IT Strategies for 5-10 person Architecture and Design Firms

Welcome to another episode of Design Under Influence!  

You’ve come to the right place to find out how you can make technology your competitive advantage for your architecture and design firm.  

Today we’re tackling a big topic: giving small architecture and design firms key strategies for improving their IT plan as they grow their business.  

As a small business owner looking to grow, it can be a little bit overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like there is everything to do but not enough time.  

Don’t fret: we’re here to help. 

As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to relinquish total control of your business. It’s your baby, and you know how to best protect it.  

Unfortunately, this strategy is not sustainable as you grow.  

Delegating and outsources tasks can free up a ton of time for you as a business owner so that you can focus on the three most important aspects of your business:  

  1. Culture and hiring
  1. Systemization 
  1. Business development 

Your time is not well spent on dealing with minute issues around your firm.  

Many entrepreneurs, as they start out, tend to be over-involved in dealing with IT despite the fact that it is outside their range of expertise.  

Busyness is not productivity. Spending hours on end on solving technological problems is not the best use of your time.  

Start out with small steps. Identify where you are weakest, and delegate those tasks to other people in your firm or outside resources.  

Information Technology does not have to be thought of as a defense. Indeed, with the right strategy, IT can serve as an offensive strategy to give your firm a competitive advantage.  

The mindset shouldn’t be: if something gets broken, I’ll call my IT guy to fix it.  

Instead, you should go on offense by hiring a trusted IT firm to prevent things from going wrong in the first place—saving your firm time and money.  

Playing defense leads to patchwork solutions, which leads to more incurred costs both immediately and down the road.  

To avoid this, you want to work with an IT provider that intimately knows your business and specializes in architecture and design.

So what are the actual costs of a defensive IT strategy?  

Through talking with our clients, and introspective reflection into the businesses we’ve operated, and an evaluation of past experiences, we’ve identified that a defensive IT strategy usually costs the founder an average of three hours per week, and the team five hours per week.  

So where do these time costs come from?  

  • Setting up computer access for employees and contractors  
  • Recovering past work  
  • Searching for information from colleagues  
  • Dealing with hardware and server maintenance 
  • Access management for various systems  

Dealing with these issues defensively will cost you, the founder, 12 productive hours per month. It will cost your team 20 productive hours per month.  

Let’s safely say your founder’s time is worth $150 per hour and your team’s time is worth $40 per hour.  

That is, at minimum, $2,600 worth of productivity lost per month, in addition to added risks such as not delivering on promises made to your clients and stagnation of business growth.  

Every minute you work in the business rather than on the business is costing you money, time, and opportunity.  

So why can’t this be fixed by your average on-call IT guy?  

Foremost, an IT person not affiliated with your company will not know the processes of your company. Without intimate knowledge of your processes, there can be no long-term solutions or big picture thinking, a recipe that is sure to allow for more problems to arise in the future.  

Additionally, they might not always be available because they have a high volume of clients just like you. There is no incentive for them to put you at the front of the line.  

These delays cost your business time. They make you and your team less productive.  

IT Guys make money off of a defensive strategy. As things break, they fix them. And because they are billed hourly, they may take more time than needed to solve the problem.  

This is not a proactive solution for your business.  

So how does your small architecture firm go about making strategic IT solutions?  

Firstly, you need to think about where you can systemize and delegate to free up your valuable time for culture and hiring, systemization, and business development.  

It’s time to let go of the illusion that being busy is empowering your business.  

Even if you do manage to solve your IT problems on your own as a founder, that’s not a win. That’s a day wasted.  

We know what you’re thinking: But won’t outsourcing strategic IT solutions be expensive?  

The answer, simply, is no.  

Considering what you are getting in return, strategic IT solutions are an extremely worthwhile investment.  

From quick responses to proactive management of your systems to strategic IT advice that can help to make technology your firm’s competitive advantage, your return on investment will be very high.  

So how can you be sure that you are getting the right IT provider for both values and cost?  

You should look closely at the following three things:  

  1. Ensure that they are responsive: you should get a response right away.  
  1. Ensure that they are proactive in putting systems in place to protect your business’s data and security. They should be proactively monitoring your equipment and implementing software that prevents issues, not waits for them to happen.  
  1. Ensure that you can have strategic conversations with them to identify new technologies and systems that can benefit the growth of your business.  

The best IT provider functions as a business partner.  

At ArchIT, we’re dedicated to providing strategic solutions for your architecture and design firm. We want to function as your business partner, not a defensive approach to IT.  

Have questions? Please reach out!  

We’d love to talk further about how technology can be your firm’s competitive advantage.