Get an in-depth explanation of Practice Management with Lindsay Green and Alex Anamos of R&A in Culver City. They’ll talk through RFP’s, RFQ’s, and help give a better understanding of staff organization. Additionally, they will discuss how to avoid risk, handling quantity of work, and confidentiality requirements.

Practical Applications

And you'll also be hearing from our other studio director, Lindsay Green, and we'll be talking about different components of practice management and how we do that here at R&A. Hopefully, you'll learn something from it, and hope you enjoy it.

The senior staff and senior leadership actually do get together probably once a month to evaluate and make sure we have people slated in the right areas, along with understanding our candidates' past experiences, because it really does influence where we place them as they come in. Once they're in and we've worked with them for a while, we then reevaluate multiple times like I said, quarterly and annually to make sure that they are placed properly. Most of our staff does come from multiple offices, whether it's large firms, small firms, residential firms, people who do mostly corporate.

We tend to make sure that we have a principle in charge on every project with a project lead heavily involved and supervised by all of our studio directors. Our entire office works as a single team. We don't have studios here, and we have key staff filling different positions, and we tend to try to make sure that our junior staff gets as much opportunity as possible as they go through the process.

So, when there is a milestone where something may go public, and then we're allowed to share that information, we then communicate, "Hey, everybody, this is now public "and we're allowed to share." At the same time the principals are really the only ones who are allowed to speak externally about confidential projects. So again, communication to the staff. Along with, we do have an external PR firm that helps us understand when is a good time to release information.

Handling the quantity of work is very important because if you overburden your staff, you're not gonna do a good job on the project. If you don't have enough work, people are sitting around not being efficient. So we have a pretty good way of projecting fees out for the next two, three, sometimes even six months.

So one of the resources that are absolutely critical, I think, is a good time management software and there are a lot available out there right now and so you have to train everyone to be sure that they're putting their time in the right place in that software database. So profitability and schedule is much more easily handled when you're collecting data like that.

We're finely did it's best to outsource a lot of this, we have found some very very good human resources, collaborators who come from bigger firms and we think that if we're gonna grow to that size, getting that big firm expertise is a good place to start instead of building it from the ground up. Also, for pay rolling so forth, most firms outsource that. Here in Los Angeles, I've found that's probably one or two that service the majority of firms and it's a relief to not have that, as part of the, you know, daily workflows, so outsourcing is a big way, especially in this growing complex and grow-increasingly complex environment for pay rolling union resources.

Quality control and quality assurance is really important to us. That's QA, quality assurance, and quality control. We have extensive checklists that we've developed in house, and project managers are required to implement those and have other people who haven't worked on the project, cross check everything, and that's a way of minimizing mistakes, and catching omissions, and making sure that the projects move forward smoothly.

A AIA contract gives you the option of arbitration, litigation, or mediation. Interestingly enough, our council has been advising litigation more often than not lately. You can always start with mediation and go to either arbitration or litigation down the road.

But again, the process here, because we have a principal in charge with each project, you'll kind of get three principals in one. Even though one person is the principal in charge, the other two are always informing the design process. When it comes to each project, when it kicks off, a lot of times we take precedents of the surrounding areas, precedent projects that we've worked on.

And by that time you've also built a good relationship and the construction process is difficult so a good relationship between the architect and the contractor done through the negotiated bid process really helps a project move smoothly.

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