architecture blog

Digital Organization with ArchiOffice

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 10:07 AM

If you ever want to feel like an architectural community insider, just ask an architect "What CAD software do you use and why?" This will undoubtedly be answered with more information than you care to know about the digital world of architectural design. Explanations as to why their CAD software is the best, most efficient, a great design tool, etc, etc.

Now ask that same architect, "what office/project management software do you use?" Most often, this will be met with startling silence.

While most architecture firms pride themselves on their CAD prowess, they often ignore or undervalue all of the other important aspects of running a practice. These include contact organization, timecard and expense tracking, project management, correspondence, billing and calendar coordination. Sure, they probably have something to handle these items, but more often than not, these seemingly mundane tasks are accomplished with disparate pieces of software.

Aware of this hodgepodge way of doing things, we instead opted for a software system that manages all of these items in one concise, easy to use database. Our office/project management system is called "ArchiOffice" This system is used as much, if not more than our CAD software.

One example is the timecard portion of the system. We diligently use the timecard system to track hours for all projects, office overhead and marketing. This information is not only used for our billing, but also provides us valuable historical data over the life of a project. How efficient were we on this project? Did we make a profit? Can we be more efficient? We also use this stored information to give future clients a proper fee on their project because we know how much time was spent on past projects of a similar nature.

Here is a sample screen shot of a timecard from last year.

Note that the system tracts the project, project phase, job code, description of what was done, and the amount of time. The system is easily navigated via the top menu with icons of the various modules in the system: Contacts, Time/Exp, Projects, Billing, etc.

The ArchiOffice database is stored on a central server here in the office. Every memo, e-mail, project and contact are interconnected and automatically sorted, so no information is lost or improperly filed. All appointments and tasks are easily accessible to everyone in the office. Invoices are directly tied to to our timecards and expense reports. This ease of using this seamless system versus a mixture of non integrated software packages allows us to spend more time on design. This approach not only helps us run a better office, but it helps us better serve our clients.

Being creative doesn't mean you can't also be organized.

Tags: Organization, Software, Business

Innovation = Trust + Risk

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jan 17, 2008 @ 11:01 AM

Last month I had the pleasure of seeing Dov Seidman give a lecture related to his new book, "HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything in Business (and in Life)". Dov's primary stance is that our current society has become so hyper-connected and transparent that HOW we do what we do has become more important than WHAT we do. In essence, business ethics matter.

One of his more interesting points was how true innovation comes about. When people think of how to innovate, they imagine a group of people getting together in a room to brainstorm. Innovation, however, is really only possible when you have trust and risk. You need a team that trusts each-other and is willing to take risks. I completely agree.

For more info on Dov, here is his company website.

Tags: Organization, Innovation, Business, Ethics

Monday Morning Meetings

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Mon, Jan 14, 2008 @ 06:01 AM

It sounds simple enough, but proper communication is one of the keys to our success here at Modative. Although much of our daily internal communications are informal: a quick e-mail, a check of the office calendar, or conversation while walking to get coffee; there is a weekly ritual that ties it all together: The Monday Morning Meeting.


Monday mornings at 9:30 a.m. everyone in the office meets to review all projects and internal office issues. Meetings are guided by a multi-page list showing all tasks, appointments and milestones for each project along with who is responsible for each item. These are not design meetings, but rather organizational open forums - an exchange of information and ideas related to office and project management. These Monday meetings really set the pace for the week around here.


For us, designing how we do business is as important as what we design in our business.


Well ...have to go now, the meeting starts in a few minutes.

Tags: Communication, Organization, Business