Small Firm Exchange

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Who We Are

The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:

     1. Advocate the value of small firms, the national SFx, and local
         SFx groups, both within the AIA and to the public.
     2. Curate and disseminate the most pertinent resources and
         information, from the AIA & elsewhere, that benefit small firms.

     3. Inform the AIA of current issues facing small firms and areas
         in which current resources/information are lacking.

Approximately 75% of all firms within the AIA are small firms (10 employees or less), which equates to 14,288 small firms within the organization. 

~25% = sole practitioners = 4,750

~35% = 1-5 employees = 6,650

~15% = 5-10 employees = 2,850

We need to find ways to leverage that size for collaboration and influence, just like the individual large firms do.

Be sure to "Join our Community" !  This will ensure that you're a part of our mailing list and receive our quarterly newsletter and important small firm information.

  • 1.  Looking for examples of Firm Operations Manuals

    Posted 10-05-2021 04:05 PM
    Does your firm have a written set of office manuals that describe all operations, policies and production standards to staff? It seems like the answer to this question should obviously be "yes." However, I am having trouble finding any examples or templates specifically for architectural firms.
    For my firm, I had to start completely from scratch to write these manuals using only the table of contents from other industries as a guide. Anyone have any guides or resources they would like to share?

    Jennifer Kretschmer AIA
    Principal Architect
    J. Kretschmer Architect
    Los Gatos CA

  • 2.  RE: Looking for examples of Firm Operations Manuals

    Posted 10-06-2021 07:06 PM

    We are currently in the middle of compiling our studio's operation standards. Like you, we weren't able to find any great examples. Essentially, we hired an operations manager and are now working with them to document all of the procedures we currently have in place (ie. transfer them from the principals heads into Google Docs).  It'd be great to hear of anyone else's experience surrounding this. 

    Jeffrey Guggenheim AIA
    Guggenheim Architecture and Design Studio
    Portland OR

  • 3.  RE: Looking for examples of Firm Operations Manuals

    Posted 10-07-2021 06:37 PM
    I've worked with a few firms to set up employee handbooks. I'm not sure if this has everything you are looking for, but here is an Employee Handbook we compiled from a wide range of resources:

    You can edit/adapt it for your needs and hopefully is a good place to start. 

    If you have any questions about this or want to talk through handbook ideas you can schedule a video call with me using this link: Schedule a 30 minute video call with Lucas Gray
    I love talking with architects to learn how they are approaching these things so we can all share knowledge and resources. 


  • 4.  RE: Looking for examples of Firm Operations Manuals

    Posted 10-07-2021 11:33 PM
    We just joined an HR services group. For a very low monthly fee, we have access to advice hotlines, basic legal advice, and for budget-minded additional fees, they will write our office policies and manuals using the state's laws. They have been good for this initial month. Perhaps there is a similar organization in your area. 

    Deborah J. Seitz, AIA, LEED AP Homes
    Lenhardt Rodgers Architecture + Interiors
    Fort Washington, PA