Financial Management for the Small Architectural Firm 101 - BQE Software
Software for Architecture Project Management
Architecture firms deal in complex work and need robust management solutions. Learn how to keep your team on track with the best architecture project management software.
Effective project management software offers your architecture firm the planning and collaboration tools it needs to save time, meet every deadline, stay on budget, fulfill client expectations, and increase profits.
If you’re interested in project management software for architects but are unsure where to start, we’ll walk you through which features to look for, the potential benefits you’ll see, and what you risk by failing to adopt PM software.
The Difference: Architecture Software vs. Project Management Software
Architects use programs like SketchUp and AutoCAD daily for planning, drafting, and modeling. From concept sketching to photorealistic renderings, architectural firms and their clients are accustomed to designing, collaborating, and managing projects solely using computers.
While computer-aided design software allows architects to work more efficiently and provide clients with a clear idea of what a completed project will look like, it lacks the project management capabilities that firms need to streamline workflows and successfully deliver projects.
Project Management Software
A project management platform helps your architectural firm’s team members collaboratively work on projects. PM software enables you to view progress, monitor and identify at-risk deadlines, and share status, all while organizing and centralizing your documents and communication. Popular project management features include task management, time tracking, resource planning, and third-party integrations.
What if I Don't Use Project Management Software?
Implementing PM software might seem unnecessary for your architecture firm, but in reality, failing to do so can cause severe and long-term business issues.
Lost time. Wasting time isn’t an option when you're on a deadline, which is why you shouldn’t spend it on manual time entry or searching for documents. Project management software automates various tedious tasks and provides metrics dashboards that visualize vital figures. With a tool like BQE CORE, you spend less time looking for data and details, as it’s already made readily available to you.
Poor communication. Good communication is crucial to delivering a successful architecture project. A communication breakdown can lead to delays, going over budget, unsatisfied clients, and sometimes even rework. The right PM software helps you easily share questions and concerns, communicate with external stakeholders, and automatically keep records of all task actions.
Disorganized virtual workspace. Spending too much time every day looking for project details, such as KPIs, emails, and downloaded files, is a fundamental business issue that causes you to fall behind on more important tasks. Centralizing and organizing your virtual workspace simplifies documentation, reduces paperwork, and adds efficiency to your workday.
Low accountability. Hold your team accountable by establishing roles and responsibilities that everyone involved understands. Resource planning ensures everyone knows what needs to be accomplished, when it needs to be completed, and who is responsible for each task. An effective project management solution visualizes accountability by reminding team members of upcoming deadlines.
Difficult to track time. Your team might find it challenging to track time due to manual tracking processes, tasks not planned or documented with enough detail, or a lack of communication. Inaccurate time tracking affects project costs and could make the difference on whether a project is profitable or loses money.
Difficult to track expenses. If you don’t track your expenses, you risk overspending or running out of money before completing the project. Budget tracking keeps your team on course, reassures clients at key milestones, and helps you forecast profitability.
What features to look for?
Your firm is unique with its own priorities and goals, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all project management tool for architects, there are some essential PM software features to consider before purchasing.
Think about the tools your team likes and uses frequently. While the right project management solution will eliminate and replace many of the disparate tools you use, you may need to retain a select few. Depending on your needs, look for PM software that connects with G Suite, Dropbox, Box, One Drive, Stripe, Xero, and QuickBooks.
Project management software makes it effortless for stakeholders to communicate throughout a project. Features like task management, unified calendars, and message boards foster smooth communication and offer insight into each team member’s daily tasks as well as the firm's overall project progress.
Shared calendar. A team calendar for scheduling and organizing meetings and deadlines is a must-have for PM software. Creating a shared calendar that synchronizes with popular calendar tools like Google Calendar ensures that every collaborator receives notifications about upcoming check-ins and deadlines. You can even add critical due dates to your team calendar so each member is aware of milestones.
Message board. Built-in PM message boards allow your team members to quickly pitch ideas, communicate real-time status updates, ask questions, and discuss issues. Message boards enable you to share and find information in a centralized place, rather than hopping back and forth between emails and direct message threads.
Share project goals. Viewing project KPIs provides a quick overview of whether the team is reaching its goals, leading to more informed decision-making. Using a shared metrics dashboard and message board, every stakeholder can express their ideas to improve project performance.
Time tracking software documents the time spent on tasks, helps you accurately calculate billable hours, and can even automate your invoicing process. It’s one of the most essential project management features because it offers clients transparency into your processes, fosters employee accountability, streamlines your billing workflows, and provides insight into resource and time management. When you’re able to optimize your time management and employee utilization rate, your firm’s profitability will skyrocket!
Budgeting and Accounting
Effective PM software facilitates the switch to online billing and automatic invoicing. At the end of an arduous project milestone, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour manually creating and customizing an invoice to send to your client. There are numerous tools out there to set you up with recurring invoices and customize them for multiple contract types and percent-complete billing.
Document manager. Document management makes it easy to share and work on files together at any time and in any place. Any team member can attach files quickly for others to access, so you can keep all project information centralized and seamlessly share important documents with your team.
Content storage. Choosing PM software with a place to share documents, files, and images gives everyone on the project access to everything and makes content easy to find. Many platforms offer free storage for uploading files and data.
If all goes according to plan, your architecture firm will use its project management software every day. That’s why you need one that’s user-friendly and easy to navigate. There’s a learning curve with any program, but the right one should allow you to get up to speed and feel comfortable using it in only a couple of days.
Make sure the platform you select offers readily available customer support, troubleshooting tips, and supporting documentation to help you understand the product’s features. Consider if you need a mobile app option or if you'll primarily use a desktop version.
BQE CORE offers project management software designed by architects for architects, to enable you to save time and focus on work you enjoy. We provide all of the project planning and collaboration features you need, with the flexibility to work on desktop or mobile, and the integrations for RFIs and ASIs built right into our product.
Our intelligent resource management tools and interactive Gantt charts give you complete control of project schedules and employee workload. Teams receive automatic notifications of project updates, so work gets done on time and within a task’s allocated hours. CORE's intuitive dashboards let your firm measure profitability at the project level, enabling you to increase overall profits and client satisfaction.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive business management solution built to the specific requirements of an architectural firm, try a 15-day free trial of BQE CORE today.