Jim Moore is a licensed architect, Chief Operating Officer and Principal at Studio W Architects, who brings more than 25 years of expertise to managing the operations and business practices of architectural firms. He has been with Studio W Architects for the past 12 years and prior to that, he served in a similar role for a design practice in Santa Barbara, CA. His success has been recognized by PSMJ Resources, Inc. as Outstanding Design Industry “CEO of the Year” in the middle firm category and he assisted both firms to win the prestigious PSMJ Circle of Excellence Award. Through his leadership, Studio W has been awarded the Top 50 Fastest Growing Firms Award in consecutive years from both the Sacramento Business Journal and Silicon Valley Business Journal. Here, he accounts the tenants of successful business practices of architecture firms, as proven through his many years of experience …

Under Jim’s leadership, Studio W Architects has been honored as a PSMJ Circle of Excellence firm & consistently appears on the Sacramento Business Journal’s and Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies lists

 

1 – Find, hire & retain candidates with natural artistic talent: Architectural firms require strong project managers with creative problem-solving ability and technically competent architectural staff, but in my opinion, strong artistic design talent is the primary driver of long-term success. Architectural firms are hired to deliver quality designs to their clients, so finding, hiring and retaining candidates with natural artistic talent (hand sketches, watercolors, painting, graphics, etc. – such as the examples below which were created by Studio W staff) typically translates into architectural designs with excellent proportions, scale, three-dimensional space and color, all key aesthetic elements.

Variety of hand sketches by Studio W Architects team members

 

2 – Promote, recognize & reward creative problem solving: Each project presents a unique set of challenges a firm must creatively solve on behalf of the client. Promoting, recognizing and rewarding staff who proactively resolve project challenges builds confidence firm-wide and builds trust with clients that their project is on a path to success.

3 – Manage projects by schedule – starting with the end in mind: Preparing a project schedule is one of the first steps on a new project. Building a successful schedule starts at the end, working back from the owner’s desired occupancy date, as in this sample public school project schedule:

  • The project completion date is typically related to the end of summer break.
  • Prior to the start date, the school’s staff will require move-in time, which follows the contractor completing all construction work and testing building systems.
  • Allowing for a reasonable construction duration based on the scope of work and complexity of the project, we work backward to determine the construction start date and the construction contract award by the Board of Education.
  • The bidding process precedes construction, meaning we work backward from the contract award date to set the bid due date and thus when the invitation for bids needs to be publicly advertised.
  • Prior to bidding, the plans require agency approvals. Based on experience, we have relative timeframes for review and approval by the various governing agencies. Knowing these timeframes allows us to set the agency plan review submittal date.
  • Working backward from the agency submittal date through the design phases determines the design start date, preceded by securing an executed contract with the client, which initiates the project.

After identifying the project’s critical path by working backward from the end date, the project schedule can now be prepared from start to finish and presented with confidence to the client.

A sampling of the projects Jim Moore has been involved with over his tenure at Studio W Architects
Top Left: The Bayshore School
Top Right: Cañada College Kinesiology & Wellness Center
Bottom Left: Christopher High School
Bottom Right: Mendota Elementary School

4 – Honor commitments: After agreeing with a client to complete a project task by a certain date, then endeavor to do so on or before that date. Completing each task on time incrementally builds trust with a client. If a task involves multiple staff or consultants, prior to making a commitment with the client, coordinate and confirm with your project team that they can complete their part of the task. When a client trusts an architectural firm, they are more likely to award future projects to the firm.

5 – Communicate milestones: As a project progresses, successful architecture firms consistently communicate each milestone task completion with their clients. Most clients are focused on their own business, so letting them know when a task is completed builds trust over time that the architecture firm is properly managing it. Clear and concise weekly project updates allow the client to know the project is progressing on schedule and also means the client can easily assess and approve the firm’s monthly invoice for completed work.

Blog post authored by James Moore, Chief Operating Officer & Principal