We recently had the privilege of sitting down with PLATT Architecture in a panel-style webinar to discuss the growing pains of a residential architecture firm. One of those growing pains discussed was project management — more specifically, finding processes that work for your team and getting your team to buy-in.
With so much great advice given throughout the webinar, we wanted to share with you our favorite takeaways on the growing pains project managers often face. Keep reading to learn tips from pros that have gone through it themselves.
But first, meet our panelists from PLATT Architecture!
Bud Holland, Senior Project Manager
Ren Uriarte, Finance and HR Director
Jonna Heykoop, Office Manager
All projects, big or small have the same moving parts, so you need a good system in place.
Whether it’s a small renovation or a made from scratch custom house, every project has a budget, timeline, and consultants. Finding the right system and utilizing a tool like BigTime can help organize all those moving parts of a project and set your team up for smooth sailing. When looking for project management software, it’s important to find a process and program that works for your firm and people. Bud said it best, “we’re too big to be small and too small to be big. It’s about finding that sweet spot in the project management process.”
(We know the search for software is hard, check out this helpful blog about project management software)
Aligning communication across finance and project management teams can be difficult but it’s so important.
“It’s always going to be an evolving process,” Ren noted. While it can be a daunting task, getting your project management and finance teams to have an open line of communication is crucial in getting your firm to be efficient and profitable. Ren recommends first talking to the project management team as to why it is so important to be keeping track of project budgets, and why architects should be paying close attention to how their time is being spent. Finding a timekeeping process that works for everyone can be challenging but when people understand the big picture and reasoning behind it, it can allow for better adaptation and participation from staff. After finding the process that works for them, Bud shared, “We were typically tracking our budgets from the top-down, the principal and president were focused on the budget more so than the staff but now I think we’ve flipped it. Our project managers are highly focused on it and working it from the bottom up so that it makes the process go much smoother, makes everyone more accountable, and makes how we get the bills through the office much faster and more efficient”.
(Follow our 6 steps to make sure you’re getting all the value you can out of the two teams working in sync.)
Embrace change in your project management system.
Covid forced a lot of businesses to rethink internal processes. PLATT Architecture used this challenging time to their advantage by updating some old-school methods they still had in place and fully moving to the cloud. While it can be hard to let go of old practices, embracing change and new technologies can help the project management process become more efficient and provide more detailed insights. Reflecting on the past couple of years Bud added during the webinar, “Covid really was a big eye-opener for us and has been very beneficial in a weird sort of way. It exposed some of our weaknesses and helped us figure out things we needed to focus on to weather the storm at the time”.
Gaining staff buy-in on new processes is s a process in itself.
Staff buy-in is super important for any new process you implement. Jonna shared with us her process of getting staff buy-in when she rolls out a new program in the office, “The most important part for me when coming up with a new way of doing things is to get it to a point where I understand why I'm doing it and how it will work, to my core. I understand the backward and forwards and I can explain it really well. However, not so set in stone that there’s no need to get buy-in or get feedback from staff. When I go and present it to them, I know it well enough so I sound like I know what I’m talking about and they can believe in the idea but still remain flexible to hear feedback”.
Being open to improvements and new ideas is super important when it comes to rolling out a new system. If your team feels like they have a voice in the process, it’s much more likely that they’ll get on board. One other tip Jonna shared with us was to “meet people where they're at technology-wise”. Set up some one-on-one time with staff who aren’t as familiar with certain technology so they can learn more about it. “Walking them through it has really helped in making people feel like they aren't being left behind,” Jonna added.
Wait, there’s so much more!
For even more helpful advice on the operational details that are essential to successful and continued growth, watch the full webinar here.
During the webinar we discuss:
- When and what aspects of your business should be automated
- Creating project management processes for a variety of work
- Finding the right mix of efficiency without sacrificing your firm’s personality and values
- Keeping company culture alive and employee retention on track
- Aligning communication across finance and project management teams
About the Author
Content Marketing StrategistSee more by Leanna Michniuk