Opportunities and Responsibilities to carry as a PM
“In the late 1970, the rise of construction managers paralleled the unwillingness of architects to take on responsibility for construction. This led to a loss of perceived value and a loss of potential compensation. Owners still had to pay to ensure buildings were constructed properly, But increasingly they were not paying architects for this. Only in recent years has the architectural profession begun to learn to benefit from risk instead of running from it.”
- AIA Project Delivery Think Tank, July 1999
One of the reasons why Project Management is becoming overwhelming for an architectural firm is the sheer complexity involved in the Building process. It definitely requires an additional team member to exclusively serve as a ‘Project Manager’ or ’Project Coordinator’ or ‘Project In-charge’ whose primary responsibility would involve integrating management of Clients, Designers, Consultants, Contractors, Administration, Marketing, and Finance for one or more projects.
Architectural practice as a "Design-Build" practice
As per current Architectural practices, though Architects are not directly engaged in the Construction phase such as in day to day construction and financial matters; practically they do everything to help and guide the contractor with proper directions. Many architects later realized that with their experience, skill-sets and aptitude; Project Management is not a big deal ! This has give rise to many new opportunities for architects. But, it is also important to understand what reposnsibilities come along with these oportunities.
Architectural firm as Design-Build practice
The concept of ‘Design and Build’ introduced a new practice area much more powerful and meaningful; the Design-Build firm. Today, thousands of architects are embracing ‘Design-Build’ practice as it is a much more powerful “enabler” than other traditional practices for many reasons like below:
Design-Build firm enables you to effectively manage the entire process of project development; right from inception to construction.
The project can be started much earlier and delivered on time, within the given budget.
The scope of innovation in Design and Building techniques are much higher.
A related survey by the National Study of Project Delivery Methods, sponsored by the Construction Industry Institute supports all the above by proving that a Design-Build firm is:
12% faster for Construction than Design
33% faster for Delivery of Design & Construction process
5% less in Project’s “cost of growth” despite change orders
However, a large number of architects are still hesitant to take up additional responsibilities as this demands a huge capital investment, risk management capabilities, ability to acquire new skills and knowledge along with an ability to manage it; which could potentially distract them from focusing on their core strengths. Eventually, a fiercely competitive market would push architects to embrace the Design-Build practice; which is much more challenging, which is also why it is highly rewarding!
Establishment of a construction site requires managing equipments, accommodation for labour, arranging infrastructure for constriction like water, electricity, road, safety, insurance etc. Site management is emerging as a new service for architects and project managers. As an architect and PM are responsibile for maintaining the quality control on the site, it is required that they develop a quality control framework at onset of the design process. Many architects who are involved in construction, enjoy being fully part of each and every process of their design being executed. But many may need to leave the comfort of their office luxuries and start to enjoy working in the field.
Architects are called dreamers who also dream of money. But it is also true that they are poor financial managers. When architect also dwells into a role of a project manager, his financial skills and budgeting of the project is at the test. Common mistakes contractors make are to divert the fund of one project to another project, indulging in over trading. As a total in-charge of the project, a PM's duty is to ensure timely payments to suppliers, sub-contractors and employees. Most of the firms fail due to mismanagement of the fund and cash flow. Architects who are involved in Project Management, must acquire this skill to fulfill this responsibility. Learn more about financial skills for architects here.
An architect is directly in contact with the client on a day to day basis, which provides an excellent opportunity to build your credibility and trust.
However, in construction industry clients are often observed to be very demanding and edgy. Remember, a client doesn't know the building process like an architect/PM knows. It is their resposibility to educate the client and manage the sentiments attached to the project. Thus, establishing good communication strategy will generate goodwill which is essential for the success of a PM's practice. It is an opportunity for architects to develop communication skills and establish themselves as a credible and responsible project management firm. Learn more about communication skill for architects here.
Maintenance and Post construction services
Maintaining a building is as important as making it. In fact, it is architect's duty to specify the building specifications keeping in mind the hassle free upkeep and maintenance. Care and regular service will ensure clean and pleasing environment, giving the building long and healthy life. It will be an architect's responsibility to design a maintenance strategy and educate the client for the same. Being involved into developing a maintenance plan is as essential as developing an architectural design for a project. Architects can develop this as an extended service and take an opportunity to be a part of the complete lifecycle of the building.