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  • 1.  Outsourcing

    Posted 08-30-2015 17:18
    This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Small Project Practitioners and Small Firm Round Table .
    Has anyone out there had success with outsourcing in an effort to stay lean?

    I was "given the opportunity" just over 3 years ago to start my own practice, and didn't know how long I'd be in survival mode. We've never been without work, and after nearly 30 years with a firm that ranged between 15 and 40 people, have enjoyed the life of a sole practitioner immensely. I'd begun to think I could just ride this into the sunset.

    The good news (and the challenge) is that we've got a tremendous amount of work. I've raised fees and turned down some off-mission opportunities in response. I confess that I suffer from a kind of Depression-baby/architect's mindset that no matter how well things are going, I'm may never eat again.

    I'd like to avoid hiring permanent staff if at all possible (I also love working from home, so staffing up has other traumatic implications). We've outsourced a some production work, but with mixed success. I can't help but feeling that we're paying too much for mediocre results and spending way too much time fixing it.

    I believe the solution lies in adopting a franchising mentality - developing standards, checklists and templates that can be embedded in an agreement -  that will make it easier for these "ghost architects" to consistently produce what I need and expect. I'm coming up dry in my search for models. Can anyone point me to some helpful resources?

    Ronald Geyer AIA, NCIDQ, Principal
    Good City Architects LLC

  • 2.  RE: Outsourcing

    Posted 09-09-2015 16:12


    I completely agree with Tom, outsourcing can work, you just need to find the partner you can trust and which is a good fit for you. This became very common among architecture firms in Europe (especially after the crisis). My design firm based in Europe, Budapest, and we work both directly with developers and collaborate with other architecture teams abroad. I do believe that you can outsource also design parts of your projects. Based on the feedbacks of our clients, the most helpfull collaborations were in the past when we had the opportunity to take on complex design development tasks that made their in-house work more efficient and profitable. This works also internationally: I just returned this spring from New York, where I have been working for a year as a Visiting Senior Architect at Perkins and Will, and since than my firm has already provided this kind of services for several American companies. Sometimes they ask me how we handle the question of liability and licensure since we do have licensure in Europe, but not in the US. For this I would rather compare this approach to a mix team, where a part of the team stays in the US (they make PM, PA roles) and the other part here, in Budapest. The part that you outsource is normally also much cheaper. In the past we always find this a win win collaboration. If you are intrested in this opportunity more in detail, you can learn more about this model in the following presentation (https://youtu.be/_m4S3SubVaE).

    Hope this helps!


    Tamás Niczki Assoc. AIA LEED GA
    Principal, NAS - Niczki Architecture Studio
    Budapest, Hungary