Make it Easy to Stay Connected
In a small architectural practice, a database is a fundamental tool for efficient communication. When a new contact is created, first thing, all the information belonging to that contact is assembled, then made available to all the team members within the company.
In the past, my small office had very clumsy database, each time the project was passed onto another team member; from marketing, to client/architect agreement, to design, to construction documents, to tendering, to construction services, each person created their own list of contacts. Imagine the time and effort required for everyone to set up their own list each time the project was passed from one office member to another.
When I began in business in 1978, we attempted to maintain a database to organize all of our contacts, clients, engineers, suppliers, etc. This was, of course prior to the days of the computer. Maintain this database was laborious and yet when the effort was made, the rewards in time saving were obvious.
In the early 1990’s with the advent of computers, creating and maintaining a database became much simpler and more effective. It was and continues to be a highly beneficial time saving tool for small architects. However, even with right tools, time needs to be invested to reap maximum time-saving rewards.
For example, in an office with a well-managed database, each person accessing it, cansave up to 15 minutes net each day. Assume there are 10 team members in the office. Doing the calculations:
15 minutes per day / .25 hour per day
10 team members
200 working days per year
$45 per hour
.25 X 10 X 200 x 45 = $22,500 savings per year in wages
If this were in billable time it would be X 2.5 = $56,250 extra in billable hours.
So why would you not want to develop and maintain and effective data base in your office?
Of over 25 small practice architects I surveyed, only 2 had an effective database. Another 10 of the 25 use some form of database which is only maintained on a hit-and-miss basis. 13 of the 25 have some form of ad hoc list of contacts – not what one would call a database.
There are simple and complex databases. To begin with, I recommend a rather simple data base and once it becomes and effective tool for use by all team members, it can be expanded to become more complex and serve the company in ever different ways. It might be advisable to contact a database consultant to design a custom database tailored for your company.