We have files everywhere. Can we bring them all together in one place?

Welcome to Episode 2 of Under Influence Architecture and Design!  

It’s Alex and Boris, your hosts here to help architecture and design engineering firms create their competitive advantage via technology.  

We feel that the inability to utilize tech to its fullest advantage is like designing under the influence. This might be desirable in certain situations, but it’s not sustainable.  

Today we’re going to face down a problem that Boris deals with every day in assisting with IT—how firms store their files.  

For example, an architecture firm might use a local drive for projects, a file-sharing system like Google Docs for collaborative work, while accounting, HR, and other departments use their own software.  

Without having all your information in one place, organization and easy access can be difficult to manage.  

Security, disaster recovery, and general file management all run at higher risk without the consolidation of files.  

We have files everywhere. Can we bring them all together in one place?  

While it would be great for the answer to be 100% yes, unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated.  

The specialization of different programs requires varying formats, types, sizes, and systems where the files are stored.  

So how do architecture and design firms begin to solve this problem?  

In short: it’s important to consolidate as much as possible. That means that no file should exist exclusively on a local drive; it should also be accessible in a cloud storage program like Microsoft Office 360 or Google Drive.  

Most importantly, you have to understand how various systems operate to simplify them. 

While having an IT professional is helpful, high-level individuals in architecture and design firms should take it upon themselves to communicate between department heads to best understand company needs. 

What ends up happening is this: different groups and collaborators within a company will use the technology that they are comfortable with to share files, rather than prescribing to a centralized plan set forth by higher management.  

Business owners must communicate with their staff to understand what’s being used to store and share files, and then come up with creative strategies for the consolidation.  

We’ve laid out some steps you can take to consolidate files and increase productivity at your company.  

Step 1 can be defined as taking inventory of file management systems. You must evaluate who has access (HR, Accounting, etc.) to what systems, and what information is stored in those systems.  

Step 2, then, is looking at your specific business needs for successful file management. Once you have identified your requirements, you can begin to eliminate tools that don’t meet those requirements to streamline the process.  

You don’t want to end up in a situation where you have excess features that can be helpful, but neglect to lay a foundation of basic software needs.  

Step 3 becomes choosing the right tool through a feature set studyThis is based on various factors such as:  

  • What extra tools can benefit the business: how can certain file management platforms best serve your company’s niche? 
  • The learning curve for employee usage: how quickly will your employees be able to feel comfortable and confident in using the new management system? 

Step 4 requires looking at the finances of the consolidation project.  

  • Financial survey: whether or not this project is feasible under your current budget. 
  • Cost-benefit analysis: can the cost of licensing be offset by increased efficiency?  

You might be wondering: Is this something your business should actually take on? It seems pretty complicated to figure out.  

But there are huge time savings that come from consolidation.  

Without having to search for different files and information in different places, your employees can be more productive and get to work faster.  

Very conservatively, many firms are wasting at least 10 minutes per person per week on sifting through files, which is highly counterproductive. In a fifty-person firm, that could mean wasting over eight hours per week.  

And if each hour (on average) costs $50, poor file management is costing you over $2,000 per month.  

Especially in the new age of remote work, it can be more difficult for employees to collaborate with one another to find files.  

Instead of leaning over to the other desk to ask where something can be found, an employee might have to send an email and wait hours for a response. This takes us to: 

Step 5: rollout and implementation. This will include  

  • Setting up the new service  
  • Giving employees access  
  • Migrating data  
  • Securing the data based on department needs 

Especially with Step 5, you will likely require some IT muscle. You can certainly try it on your own, but outsourcing to solve problems that aren’t in your own skillset can save you your sanity. 

Focus on your unique abilities; outsource the rest. Implementing file consolidation technology can save your business a ton of money, and ArchIT can make that happen.  

You can be more agile with the proper technology.  

Consolidation of files can make it easier to accept new bids, turn around projects on time, and of course, save money on labor costs.  

At ArchIt, we help architecture and design firms to discover the tech that works best for them. We’ve been doing it for years, and we’re happy to help.  

As always, feel free to contact us! Whether you have suggestions on what to talk about on the pod, want to discuss something, or would like to work with us; we’d love to hear from you.