Architecture is a high-pressure environment. There are clients to keep happy, deadlines to meet and project partners to work alongside. Particularly important for an architect practice is to ensure you are following the RIBA Plan of Work guidelines. Keeping on top of the organisation and management of your working processes is why it’s worth considering the potential benefits of virtual office support.
How can a virtual resource support my business?
Outsourcing is about getting rid of the day-to-day tasks that take up too much of your time, clog up your evenings and weekends and give you extra stress that you really don’t need.
Most business owners find that when they outsource these tasks, they have more time to work on the things they really want to do and save money by only paying for the resource they require rather than employing permanent staff members. And for architect firms, having someone to work with you on everything from diary appointments to final accounts and completion certificates can give both you and your customers complete confidence.
So what could you outsource? There are a few key task areas, specific to the architecture profession that are easy to pass on to a professional virtual assistance business:
- Diary management – as you move through a project, it’s important that your diary is up to date so that you can meet your obligations. From making an initial site visit to define the RIBA work stage 1 brief, to visiting the project during stages 5-6 in order to ensure work is being completed to the relevant standards – diary management and appointment setting is critical to helping you manage your projects smoothly. Choosing virtual administrative support for these kinds of tasks allows you to get on with running your business and supporting your clients.
- Programme management – before a client’s project moves into work stages 2 and 3, you need to provide a draft programme that outlines the work to be done and put timescales against them. The most efficient way to do this is to use a template – something that when using a virtual assistant businesses will allow you to outsource with confidence. In fact, you can outsource the creation of a number of templates and documents, including consultant lists, material finishes or mood boards, consents and full proposals.
- Tasks you’re not familiar with – if you’ve started your own architectural practice, you’ve probably come from working inside a partnership, or a business that has an architecture department. That means there’s always been someone else sorting out the business strategy, the marketing, the finance, the graphic design, the HR and the accounts. When you start your own business, the reality is that you have to cover all these areas yourself. That’s when outsourcing is most useful – it’s a cost-effective way to pay for the tasks that need to be done, so that you can concentrate on overseeing your clients’ projects as they progress through the RIBA work stages.
- Managing contractors – depending on how you work, your business might be project managing contractors. This could be anyone from builders to interior designers. Using a CRM system to manage both your contractors and your clients will help to keep your firm’s admin in order and help you to keep on top of your projects. Outsourced support can manage this for you on an ongoing basis.
Why is a virtual assistance company a good solution for architects?
Of course, you could always employ someone to take on these tasks for you. Plenty of small businesses do. But there are some fairly large costs associated with that, including the initial cost of recruiting the right person, paying for any training needed, providing computers, phones and software, paying National Insurance and pension contributions, and more. Not to mention the fact that your employee will go on holiday, take sick leave and possibly move elsewhere after a relatively short space of time.
Instead, using a virtual assistant means that you can access exactly the skills you need, and only pay for the time you use. It’s cost-effective, highly efficient and allows you to spend more time on your business without the hassle of being an employer.
Flexibility is the key – for example, architect firms can use a virtual bookkeeper or an appointment booking system on an ongoing contracted basis but could also pull in additional skills like database updating or issuing formal instructions just when they need them. There’s always cover, so even when your regular VA goes on holiday, your agency will make sure you still have the cover you need. Your outsourcing continues seamlessly, and you don’t have to manage it yourself.
You might be surprised at the range of support services that an experienced, intelligent virtual assistant agency can offer – everything from financial admin support to email marketing campaigns, conference planning, travel booking and managing your social media accounts. It’s all there, whenever you need it.
Find out more about virtual office support
If you’re running a busy, growing practice and you need help managing some or all of the tasks we’ve talked about or would like to learn more about our UK based virtual assistants, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above to see how we can help.