TOP 3 IT Challenges for Architects Designers and Engineers

Onboarding New Employees 

When bringing new employees aboard the first impression you make as a company is very important. It will go a long way in determining how happy the employee is with your company and how they view your company. You want to make sure that your organization is perceived as having all your “stuff” together. 

Your employee will likely spend most of their time working for you in front of their computer and this means that their computer needs to be set up perfectly to make the best impression possible.  

In an architectural design firm, there are a variety of tools that need to be properly installed and configured for that perfect first-day experience. Installing and configuring these correctly, creating the required accounts, and purchasing licenses can take quite a bit of time and require some effort on the part of the person handling the configuration of the computer. 

So how do you ensure that your new team member has a positive experience on Day 1?   

Have a checklist for all the tasks that need to be performed during onboarding. Start with the time they sign that offer letter and checklist all the tasks that need to be done after that point. Your checklist should have things like: 

  1. HR Functions 
  1. Accounting and Payroll 
  1. IT Functions 
  1. Welcome Committee Functions 

Looking at the IT checklist in more detail, it is prudent to identify the exact software and tools the new person is going to need. It should be based on the person’s role within the company and the standard set of tools for that role.  

Did we say standards? Yes, we did. You should have a list of standard hardware and software for every job role within your company. This may not matter as much while you are a smaller firm but as you get to 10+ people, a proper IT onboarding checklist is a must.  

Start with these three profiles: 

  1. Architect / Designer – This profile will require tools needed for your design workflows – Revit, Autocad, Sketchup, Archicad, Vectorworks, BlueBeam, Enscape, Lumion, etc. This position will require a powerful hardware machine to run these applications properly. 
  1. Project Manager / CA – This profile will require project management software as well as some design software – BlueBeam, Excel, MS Project (or other PM software), Revit, etc. 

These could be less powerful machines than the profile above. 

  1. Admin – this profile is for any other function in the office – office administrator, accountant, HR manager, marketing (this could be a separate profile as you grow). This profile will have a variety of software, but the core will be Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe CC Suite, and other tools specific to their function. These computers are usually the least powerful machines and have fairly basic hardware specs.  

Once you know the software and hardware the person is going to use you will need to make sure that you purchase the required hardware as far in advance as possible. The point of having a checklist (see above) is to be able to plan and execute that perfect Day 1 experience for your new team member.  

Finally – remember to provide orientation and training on the first day and during the first week. The new person needs to know exactly how your firm does things, where to find information and what tools your firm uses, and how you use them in your workflows.  

Managing various software versions in your organization 

This is a bigger problem than most people realize. Your software tools have major versions and minor versions which may or may not be compatible with each other.  

For example, Autocad 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 are all major versions. Autocad 2022.1.0 and 2022.1.2 are minor versions. 

Many firms understand that they need to standardize the major versions of the software. This is true because most tools will not allow you to open your project in a different major version of the tool, without upgrading the project. The upgrade process also makes the project unusable in the older version. I’m sure we’ve all upgraded Revit projects in the past only to realize that other team members and consultants we work with can no longer open them. 

The way to go about managing software versions and keeping your sanity in the process is by identifying which versions of the software are required going forward. There may be legacy versions still needed as your project is taking a long time to wrap up – Revit 2016 anyone?  

There should be a policy in place to review tool versions in your organization every 90 to 180 days to identify versions that can be removed, and new versions that should be managed and installed across the board. This includes the minor versions as well.  

Don’t Update for the sake of updating! 

Minor updates have bug fixes and other improvements, but they shouldn’t just be installed on a whim. Many times, updates actually create more issues than they solve. We have seen instances of model corruption and other bugs introduced with the latest updates.  

You should validate the update in a test environment first and understand if the update is required in your environment to fix a bug or improve a workflow. Once you identify that the update is required, plan and schedule the installation across the board for all the machines. You should not be updating your tools more often than once every 90 – 180 days unless there is a CRITICAL security patch or a bug fix. 


Don’t put your company at risk just because you don’t want to think about cybersecurity. Even if your company doesn’t need to get hacked directly, it could be your consultants that get hacked and you are exposed because of that as well. 

ArchIT has put together a Free cybersecurity course for architects, designers, and engineers, to help you and your team to stay secure.

After you take the course talk to your insurance broker about your cyber exposure and make sure your cybersecurity policy is in-line with your risk profile.  

Lastly, you need to constantly train your team on cybersecurity. At least once a quarter get together for a cybersecurity training session.  

One of your biggest risks is getting ransomware and having your files held hostage. Not being able to work on a project, bill time, and basically shut down your business for a week or more will have a huge impact on an architecture firm of any size.  

Other risks include scams that can originate from your partners, consultants, or project owners. Download our Free Cybersecurity e-book, distribute it to your employees and get together to review your security processes and procedures.  

If you have questions or need help please reach out to us. ArchIT specializes
in providing IT services for architecture, design, and engineering firms.