Behind the scenes: Architecture project management

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The advancement of construction techniques, materials and building regulations in recent years means that the early development phase is more complex than ever before and there is a growing need for project managers to accurately record and manage the two key resources; time and money.

Fortunately a new breed of dedicated software support is available to help assist with architecture project management. Architecture project management software allows architects to focus on the design process by helping to automate much of the administration involved.

Architects are now able to take advantage of developments in enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions to help streamline their production life cycles. ERP was initially designed to help with manufacturing processes but has since evolved to provide managers with a full suite of resource planning solutions.

The key elements to a successful architectural project are time management and compliance with ever changing regulations. In isolation these are relatively easy to attain, however, all architectural projects tend to undergo many changes between initial designs and final draft and this puts pressure on projects with strict deadlines.

Architecture project management systems also incorporate changing building regulations making it possible to ensure that their designs comply with the latest rules.

Building design projects

Every building design project goes through a similar process from initial idea generation to the final design and construction drawings.

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The first phase of design is the idea creation phase. This generally involves client and architect discussing project requirements and talking about design ideas. The key parts of this process are deciding on project goals, budgets, schedule and the specific requirements of the structure. All of this must be carefully documented and agreed by both parties before the next phase is commenced.

The next phase sets the project work plan and schedule and covers tasks, deadlines for reviews, approvals and final decisions and includes contingencies for unexpected delays.

Generally this is followed by the initial site survey and field tests to determine the precise boundaries of the site and any features that need to be considered, such as water courses, trees and the topography of the land.

The next phases deal with the actual design of the new building, covers space needs and the creation of the general design drawings.

The final phase covers the development, review and finalization of the designs.

Every phase must be carefully recorded by the project manager to ensure that both the client’s expectations and construction regulations are met with approval.

Benefits of architecture project management

The main advantage of any ERP system is that it automates many aspects of projects, so that managers can focus on assessing how it is progressing rather than constantly re-writing the project plan to fit with unexpected developments.

Automated production methods allow architects to focus more time on their core skills. A good system handles much of the administration involved such as the creation of client invoices, a full audit trail of all correspondence with clients and architects, as well as the management of time and expenses.

Cloud ERP solutions

Architects traditionally avoided complex software to manage their process; much of their IT budget would be allocated to vital CADCAM software. Bespoke ERP solutions were once very expensive to implement; however, they have advanced considerably in recent years and improvements in Internet speed and security have allowed software suppliers to move their services onto the cloud.

It is no longer necessary to purchase new computer hardware to run complex ERP software, instead all data is managed on the cloud and accessed via a standard web browser. This means that ERP is not only now more affordable, it is far more accessible too. Architects and decision makers from multiple locations can collaborate on projects and access data from laptops and handheld mobile devices.

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