Fully leverage your technology to build a better organization
I don’t need to tell you that 2020 has been a year requiring massive adaptability from every business owner. Architecture billings and starts are down, wildfires are shuttering construction sites and COVID-19 has reshaped so many markets from retail to corporate office space to hospitality and the list goes on. Company leadership and principals have been learning real-time how to navigate working apart for the first time how business and technology needs change in our new normal.
Visionary leadership shifts have been required of leaders even every industry – and Architects are certainly no exception. Firms with a solid Digital Transformation strategy stand to benefit with increased profitability, recognition, scalability and internal performance visibility. At the same time, they see their tech initiatives implemented successfully and properly aligned to the business outcomes they’re designed to solve. All while incorporating more of the agility needed to make it through days like these.
Put simply, Digital Transformation is what’s needed to give your firm a competitive edge in this crazy year of evolution and change.
OK OK, I know that’s a lot of boring words. So let’s look at some actionable steps your architecture firm could take today to start realizing these benefits ASAP
First, we will focus on DATA — clear visibility into your firm’s Operations and Finance KPI’s
Many times leaders know the challenges in their firms but struggle to quantify the issues and to effectively delegate their resolution to their teams. Given our current uncertain realities and distributed workforces its more important than ever to have clear visibility for decision-making and peace of mind.
Here’s an exercise to attack this:
- Consider the financial or HR issues you most need to fix now – think overhead multiplier, utilization rate, effective cost rate, aged A/R, net revenue per employee
- If you’re already reporting on these numbers today – great – move on to the next step. If not, then take a look at the underlying system(s) that track that data (T-sheets, Deltek, Quickbooks, etc) and ensure your team is doing time entry, book keeping etc consistently and the data you need exists and makes sense. (if it it doesn’t we’ll come back to this in the “Process” section below ????
- Either speak with the vendor to get assistance with creating interactive Business Intelligence dashboards within their software, or use Microsoft’s Power BI and connect it to your platform(s)
- Starting with your one most important metric, get this reporting through your dashboard so that current and historic data on this KPI is at your fingertips.
- Now, distribute access to your leadership team and setup a regular rhythm to review
Second, we move on to PEOPLE – empowering your team to collaborate and setting them up to succeed
Pretty much 100% of Architecture offices worked remotely for a few months of 2020. Most of them – in our experience – had almost no formal plans or solutions in place for this. So it’s been a year full of learning and re-writing management and collaboration practices to build newly-hybrid team cultures.
One immediate step you can take to ease this process – for those of you who are still remote, but also those who knew another lockdown could happen any day – is to create Remote Collaboration Protocols and share these with your team. Think about things like
- How do we re-iterate and maintain our company culture while communicating digitally?
- Where do we primarily collaborate internally? Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc?
- What should be in a channel so everyone can see and learn from it, and what should be in a direct message chat?
- What are the expectations around video and audio participation? (we recommend video on as much as possible!)
- What are the expected availability hours and response times? How do you indicate that you are away?
- When is in-person better than remote?
More resources we’ve prepared on this topic
- Don’t forget to check out our Better Team Meetings Checklist
- And our video about Technology’s impact on company culture
Third, we move on to PLATFORMS – Standing out and facilitating easier in a scalable way
Firm’s want brand Visibility, seamless project acceptance and sales process and easy to scale teams. Too often we see companies neglecting modern practices for outsourced execution and virtual team building. This ends up with marketing done inefficiently without measurable ROI, lengthy sales process and which ends up with valuable internal resources completing tasks better done by someone else – who’s specifically not on your internal payroll.
Focusing on the scalability piece, we’ve seen immense benefits of leveraging virtual team members to complete specific, specialized design and operational tasks in a variety of departments. Make a list of things that you yourself, a highly paid team member and/or someone who is not specialized in this task is currently completing. Focus on tasks like the below that are easily completed by experts and Virtual Assistants on remote work platforms such as Upwork – usually more reliably and cheaper than having it done in-house.
Once the list is ready, sign up for a free Upwork account and search for a couple of these – you’ll be amazed at what’s out there!
- Specialized design work that’s not worth the time/effort/money to train your team on
- Room or site scanning
- Backend design work that could be outsourced to virtual team members to keep your team focused on high value work
- Marketing and Sales
- Lead sourcing for business development initiatives
- Client and Project research projects
- Graphic Design for Flyers, Blog Posts, E-books etc
- Visual elements and brand application to Powerpoint Presentations
- Accounts Receivable process with your clients
- Recurring bookkeeping tasks
- Preparation of Business Intelligence Reports
- Agenda preparation
We’ve got some great resources for you on this topic as well
- My video on Scaling Teams on a Budget
So, what now?
Hopefully these tips are helpful for you to see how Digital Transformation really applies to firms of all shapes and sizes. We’ll be posting Part 2 soon.
In the meantime, get in touch with us for a benchmark session to find more opportunities for transformation now!