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What are some benefits (staffing wise) of a firm working on similar project types?

The Staffing Plans are easier, as the staff is familiar with the work type

Determining fees are easy as a review of the accounting system and actual hours spent will be similar to what is needed for the project type

Tracking how much time was spent or is needed will be easier


How should a staffing plan be approached for a new project type?

Hire new staff experienced in that type of building design

Consult with colleagues or peers for assistance

Set an hourly fee instead of a fixed fee


When is an hourly fee more beneficial than a fixed fee?

When the project is of an unfamiliar type

When there are challenges to the project the staff may not have worked on before


What characteristics should a project team have?

Excellent communication skills

Ability to stay focused and on track

Talent for overcoming challenges and obstacles as they arise

Experience in the project type


How is a project manager different from a staff member on a given project?

A staff member might not have every skill necessary to get the job done

A great project manager is not just bossing the team around,k they will mentor and inspire the team to do their best work


Why wouldn't a project manager have every staff member working on the same project all at once?

The project fee might not be able to afford all of the staff working on that project at once

Might sacrifice profit, although this would increase the quality of the project

This is an unnecessary burden to the Project Manager when they should be focused on providing quality service


What is billing back to the client?

Hours billed directly to the client. This billing rate is usually three times higher than an employee‘s hourly rate.


What is the typical multiplier used when determining the billing rate of a staff person?

hourly rate x 3 (small firms)
hourly rate x 5 (large firms)


Why is a staff person's hourly rate different from a billable rate?

The billable rate accounts for office overhead expenses including equipment and insurance as well as covering the billable rate of the employee


Employee’s Utilization rate

It’s an employee‘s billable hours divided by the total hours they’ve worked, then multiplied by 100 to get the percentage


Who would have the highest utilization rate in an office?

Junior staff, as higher level staff are expected to spend on billable time handling firm operations


What are some factors to consider when comparing a projects design budget to the staff’s salaries?

The cost of consultants needed for the project

The multiplier for the billing rate

How much time the principal will spend on this project as a rate is usually the highest

With the staffs utilization ratio for this project would be


What role does HR play in a small architecture firm?

Typically the role of HR will be performed by the managing principal or outside recruiter


What is Onboarding?

The process of integrating a new employee into the firm, sometimes using an employee manual

A small firm, the managing principal will take this on or office manager

And a medium size firm and individual manager would take responsibility of on boarding through a formal process

At a large firm, is the HR or department managers responsibility to handle this


Other than salary, firms might offer what to attract talented employees?

Culture: a fun atmosphere and group activities

Flexibility, employees can set their own hours or work from home at times

Design, the firms reputation and quality design through recognition or awards

Responsibility, firms may offer the opportunity to take on more responsibility or manage staff

Benefits, other than paying, like vacation or other tangible benefits

Title such as senior associate

Ownership track. Offers to join with ownership stake either upon joining or after a certain amount of time


What are some options for companies when work slows down with economic cycles?

Take on work at a different location, sometimes out of the country for larger firms.

Diversify their project tape.

Loan out staff.

Rent out some of their office space.

Established partnerships.

Partner with the architect of record on a project in another city.


What are some Compensation types that firms offer to employees?

Amount of pay.
Overtime policy.
Paid time off. Retirement.
Firm ownership.
Health insurance.
Membership and dues.


Intangible benefits affirm firm might have

Firms reputation.
Firms philosophy and focus.
Office location.
Office with flexible hours.
Office culture.
The office itself is well designed.
Work-life balance. Recognition among peers. Office policies


Why would a firm offer a rate that is above market rate?

Small firm I do this if they don’t offer other benefits such as a nicer healthcare plan or fancy office like a larger firm would


What should firms maintain to keep their staff motivated and productive?

Exciting projects.
Quality work.
Work recognition.
Firm reputation.
Relationships with the people we work with.


What is the role of a project manager?

They are in charge of organizing the project team.

They must multitask while communicating and setting clear expectations with the owner.

Can convey good and bad news to the owner and the team and work to find solutions to problems that arise


Large firms are off and organized as a vertical, horizontal, or _____ system?

Matrix system: which is a combination of the vertical and horizontal systems


Large firm using a vertical organization system

Staff on a project for the project through all the design phases through to construction observation.

Staff must have a diverse array of skills to make sure they can complete the project. Is usually enjoyed by staff as they are exposed to several challenges


Large firm using a horizontal organization system

Imagine an assembly line for the project is pushed there are several departments through the design phases.

The advantage is for each department to work on their expertise on the project.

The disadvantage is the design direction may be lost while the project is moved along through production. Staff may feel burn out after repeating the same task over and over I may not feel they are given the opportunity to be challenged


Large firm using a matrix system

Uses a core team that works on the project through all design phases but also uses departments that will jump in when needed to help with certain tasks.

For example the use of a 3-D model or to start work during design development stage to create some renderings while the court team carries out their work


Midsize firm

20 to 100 employees and less corporate feeling.

Dedicated HR and marketing staff.

Works on small and large projects.

Runs using the metric system has used in a large firm, where the project manager leisure quarantine through a project and pulls in expert staff when needed


Midsize office structure A

Senior principles and principles act as consultants among each other, together they manage the project managers who manage the project architects to oversee the designers.


Midsize office structure B

Senior principles manage the managing principal and the project managers, who manage the project architect to oversee the designers.


Midsize office structure C

The design principal works on 4 to 7 projects per day and the managing principle works one hour per project per day. The design principal works under the project manager


Small architecture firm

20 or fewer employees have a flexible organization and take on the personality of its principles.

Use a vertical or matrix model system and staff take on various office tasks including marketing or administrative work.

Staff may have decision-making responsibility which is great for interns wishing to learn.

Usually have several small projects at once and staff need to be ready to jump onto another project if needed. Should not have one big project at a time in case the project is suddenly paused or principal will be too busy to find the next project.