Architectural Project Management
A technique or a profession?
An article by Miguel Ángel Álvarez
Unfortunately, most architects consider our profession only as a matter of design and building techniques. Even the education that the schools of architecture provide, mostly do not incorporate the matters related to business and management.
Only when we begin our design practice, we now see that we are underprepared for facing the genuine problems of the profession. There is something really important that was left away by our teachers and that is:
How to manage the practice of the architectural profession, not only in terms of making good designs technically but also in terms of client satisfaction with our services. That is the foundation for having new commitments and the key to be successful in our profession.
I have lived with my own problems related to the above issues. I finished my studies of architecture in 1974 in Madrid (Spain). During the years of my professional practice, I have accumulated many mistakes - many situations going ahead and going back again; some clients lost not only because they were not interested in my designs, but also in the way my services were delivered; some projects lost money, because of the lack of a plan, or a under priced contract. Such troubles from my resume could have been averted if only I had a chance to know more about some principles of management during my school of architecture.
Application of the management techniques is absolutely necessary to the growth of an architect in his/her profession. I believe that it is necessary for every school of architecture to consider teaching ‘Architectural Management (AM)’ before awarding a student the degree as an ‘architect’.
At this junction, we understand the importance of AM in the professional life of an architect but at the same time, we also face a dilemma whether AM is only a set of techniques or a profession in itself. I don’t think that it is possible to choose one of them, because really, it is both. Alongside of being a separate profession of its own, it is also a good set of management techniques that shall be employed in many different facets of the architectural profession. It is a theoretical foundation which can be used in practice by every phase of architectural offices - from small size offices to large-scale ones.
In a small size, design firm, architectural management can be considered as a set of management techniques which are used by all the team members involved in routine operations. Only, as the firm matures, it may be necessary to specify the tasks of architectural management to an exclusive group of people who plan, prepare, implement and monitor the architectural process in the projects. If we look at the job advertisements of architects closely and try to revise them, we will see that good Architectural Managers are frequently required and usually better paid than the designers.
To sum up, I would wish to state that while Architectural Management is an essential profession inside the architectural concern, it also consists of management techniques that can be enforced to all sizes of architectural places.