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The OAA is developing a new course aimed at assisting architects with specific issues relating to starting and running an architectural practice.  The course offers an engaging introduction to the business of architecture with a focus on setting up and running a design-centered practice. The delivery format consist of five key lessons offered in two consecutive days.

Learning Hours: 12

Lesson 1

Architectural Practice in a Contemporary Context

The context of architectural practice is changing. New project delivery methods, new industry players and disruptive business models are altering the landscape in which architects deliver design services. Architects are no longer as close to the centre of project decision-making as they once were, with the rise of paraprofessionals and the shifting priorities of clients. This session will provide the participant with a contemporary view of the social, commercial, sectoral and environmental contexts in which to make decisions about starting an architectural practice.

Learning Objectives:

    1. Discuss the architect's interests and influence in the context of the contemporary design and construction industry.
    2. Compare the three common forms of project delivery and contemporary variations in terms of performance, time and cost trade-offs.
    3. Identify the roles of the stakeholders in the design and construction industry and the architect's relationship to each.

 

Lesson 2

Developing a Business Model for Your Practice


Intuition and gifted design ability may lead to a successful practice, but this is a somewhat romantic notion. The firm principal must make innumerable decisions about how the practice will operate, in which markets, delivering which services and how, partnering with what types of other key players, and, most importantly, how to shape what you do in a way that the customer values your services and is glad to pay for them. This is not developing a business plan but developing a business model. Most firms have shared the same business model for delivering traditional design services for many years. Although you may desire to deliver traditional services in the traditional way, it is beneficial to anticipate disruption and changing trends, and develop plans for change rather than reacting after the fact.  This session will examine the 9 components to a structured business model as well as explore developing a brand for your firm that goes beyond design sensibility and the values and behavior of the firm's principal(s).

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop a value proposition for an architectural practice building upon a selected business model.
  2. Describe the relationships between developing a “brand” for your practice and marketing services.
  3. Describe an approach, and the tasks, tools and techniques used in developing an identity for a new architectural practice.

Lesson 3A

Mandatory Requirements – Architectural Practice in Ontario and Canada

There are mandatory requirements for operating an architectural practice in Ontario and Canada. This session will address those requirements that are specific to architectural practice. The next session will explore those mandatory requirements common to all businesses. The two main topics of this session are the regulation of architectural practices by their respective provincial associations and the requirements to maintain insurance.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the requirements of and process for obtaining a Certificate of Practice and licensure in the province of Ontario and the implication of practicing in other jurisdictions.
  2. Describe the requirements of and processes for procuring the practice insurance including errors and omissions, general liability, automotive, and workplace safety insurance.

 

Lesson 3B

Mandatory Requirements – Business Structures in Ontario and Canada

Operating a business in Canadian requires compliance with federal, provincial and in some cases municipal legislation, regulations, and bylaws. This session will examine the options available to a firm in terms of legal structures, and review the various taxes that may apply to a firm including income tax and GST/HST.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the functions, features, benefits and drawbacks of sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation in establishing an architectural practice.
  2. Describe the regulatory federal and provincial regulatory requirements for operating an architectural practice in Ontario with regard to business registration and taxation.

Lesson 4A

Practice Management: Operational Systems – Finance and Brand Marketing

There are two types of systems that function in an architectural practice: operating systems and project systems. Operating systems include those processes that continue on an ongoing basis, do not have a defined end, and are, for the most part, repetitive. These include financial management, human resources management, brand marketing (not related to a specific project), and information and technology systems management. Project systems involve those activities related specifically to a project. These include client architect agreements, production processes, project based marketing (responding to RFP), and project planning.
The next two sessions will explore the Practice Management systems that are required to be planned and implemented for starting a practice. This session will address financial management and brand marketing.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the four components of a financial management system in an architectural practice.
  2. Identify a variety of marketing approaches to introduce your new architecture firm to a client segment.
  3. Develop an outline for a client relationship building marketing plan.
  4. Develop a start-up budget for a new architectural practice.


 

 

Lesson 4B

Practice Management: Human Resources, Technology and Information

The second session in Practice Management will explore the topics of human resource management issues related to starting firm, such as hiring, employment agreements, and HR policies and procedures. Also discussed will be considerations in purchasing and/or leasing technology systems (computers, servers, printers, etc.) and setting up scalable information systems that can grow with the firm.

Learning Objectives

  1. Relate a choice of hardware and software systems to a firm’s value proposition, i.e. BIM, visualization, mobility, etc.
  2. Develop an information gathering, organizing the distribution system for an architectural practice.
  3. List key policies and procedures for hiring and employing staff for a new architectural practice.
  4. Describe key components of an employment contract.


 

Lesson 5A

Project Management: Project Marketing and Fees

Project systems include those activities of a practice that are based on the life cycle of projects. Unlike ongoing practice operating systems, such as financial management, project systems are temporary in that they come to an end and have a defined, unique outcome. Project systems include project planning, project execution, project control and project closer. Being a project-based industry, by far the majority of a firm’s resources are invested in project activities. The two project activities to be discussed in this lesson are project related marketing, including responding to RFPs, and estimating project resources and analyzing market forces to develop an appropriate and competitive fee.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop a response to a Request-For-Proposals (RFP) for architectural services.
  2. Develop a fee proposal for a prospective project employing a bottom-up fee estimation process and market price comparison.


Lesson 5B

Project Management: Client Agreements and Project Planning

This second session in project systems explores starting a project on the right foot. Generally speaking, projects that go sour have often done so within the first 30 minutes of getting the commission. This is because there is a rush to get deliverables produced and an aversion to spending time on contracts, planning and other activities that do not, on the surface, generate billable hours. However, from the standpoint of practice and project risk management, establishing a system for quickly developing agreements and planning projects sets a solid foundation for firm growth and sustainability.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the functions, features, benefits and drawbacks of various client-architect agreements, including Document 6, Document 600 and client-created agreements.
  2. Identify insurable and non-insurable risks on client-architect agreements.
  3. Develop a scope, schedule and cost management plan of a typical building design project.
  4. Describe the processes of Quality Assurance and Quality Control in architectural practice design and production operations.
  5. Describe the function and features of a stakeholder engagement management plan.