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I've been with my small firm for almost 3 years and am recently transitioning into a new role - Operations Manager - to improve our inner-office organization, client communication, and achieving deadlines.
Our firm comprises 7 designers and 2 support staff; we have one all-office staff meeting on Tuesdays, and one "priorities" meeting with Our Principal, Project Manager, Ops Manager, and Financial Manager on Fridays. I often feel like we're not communicating enough.
I am curious how other small firms coordinate their project management. I am NOT a fan of useless meetings (no one is), but could we be having different meetings? Are 2 meetings with the focus on project deadlines + critical tasks not enough?
Before working at this small firm I was at a firm of about 120, where organization was critical to succeed. I don't know how to translate the "large firm" organization knowledge into this smaller scale.
Any feedback on organizational management is VERY welcome!!
------------------------------Jordan Albrecht AIAUrban Design Associates Ltd.Scottsdale AZ------------------------------
We are a small firm of 5. We meet Monday morning to kick off the week, Friday afternoon to see how far we got with projects. When I had partners, I tried to meet with them on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. we discussed accounting, legal and marketing objectives.
I own a 10 person firm and we have one Monday morning meeting with the entire staff to go over all projects and staffing needs. We have a monthly Principal management strategy meeting once a month. But we mandate that all staff use TEAMS and communicate with each other especially in a hybrid work environment.
I own a practice of 3 senior architects, 4 associates and one support member. We have bi-weekly meetings with the entire group to discuss all projects. Important are the deadlines, schedule, budget, and potential invoicing of each and to resolve an questions or concerns of every member. We also include a topic of learning or interest that range from code, accessibility, sustainability to how to handle different type of situations regarding document development, clients or construction administration.
Weekly, I, as the owner, sit with the business manager and senior architects to discuss associate scheduling, priorities for the office and forecasting for the following week.
Monthly, the business manager and I review business financial health, office culture, staffing needs and other needs the firm might have.
Laurie A. Gunzelman, AIA
GUNZELMAN architecture + interiors
333 Stewart Ave
Columbus, OH 43206
o l 614.674.6696
c l 614.203.5252
I'm a sole proprietor of a 40+ year old firm. For most of that time (pre-Covid) I had 4-6 full time employees. I broke my staff down into design/production groups of 2 or 3 depending upon the workload. I always had one, most experienced employee as an office lead while I was out who managed the work. For us, one meeting a week was more than adequate with rare exception. That one key employee is the most critical component.
We are a 3 person architectural firm in Upstste NY. Over the years our increased work load forced me to develop having Monday morning meetings. It''s a good opportunity to review the progress of the current work and to prioritize what is going be addressed next for the upcoming projects during the week. This is a great organizational tool.
My office consists of myself and three associates and one support staff member. We have office meetings to review and discuss all projects every two weeks. We set priorities and designate tasks.
DiSunno Architecture, P.C.
P.O. Box 1567 -or-
36 W. Water Street, Ste. 201
Sag Harbor, NY 11963
As the owner of a Small Architecture firm, I do look forward to these insightful comments from our Architectural Small Firms community. Thank you.
Meetings are a necessary evil sometimes but should be limited. Before my architecture career I was an Engineering office in the military and I have been to and conducted more than my share of meetings - well run, and not so well run. I think two meetings is plenty. My advice is look for quality in your meetings. Have a set agenda with the information you need to cover and stick to it. Make sure everyone knows who is running the meeting (it's not always the senior staff, and they should respect the person who is), no sidebars, and rein folks in the moment you get off track. I'm a firm believer that any meeting can be done in under an hour.
As Ops Manager, I assume you have firm-wide SOPs that everyone follows (with some minor exceptions)? Well-written SOPs, principals' buy-in, and firm-wide adherence and can you a lot of time in meetings. Good luck and congratulations.
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