The ACA brings you the latest information and advice on running an architectural practice, with writing from experts in the field on everything from contracts, insurance and risk management, to client engagement and communication.
ACA members can also access two pertinent advisory services: the ACA Business Advisory Service, which provides advice via email from Management For Design; and the ACA Legal Advisory Service, which provides one annual 20-minute consultation with Moray & Agnew.
Skill Stack and Charge More
Skill stacking is an invaluable way for practices to differentiate themselves and corner a specific market, writes Michael Lewarne.
How to Protect your Data
How worried should you be about the recent Optus data breach? Well, worried, but so should everyone be – Optus customer or not. Frances Russell from FooForce offers some valuable advice about data protection.
How Practices can Prepare for the Future
Amid continued change, how are architecture firms preparing for the future? ACA CEO Angelina Pillai shares her thoughts on the Deltek Clarity A&E Study results.
Careers: Samantha Rich
CareerTrackers placements with Lendlease and SJB gave Samantha Rich valuable real-world experience, feedback and skills she could immediately draw upon when she left university.
Performance Solution Reports & Certificates
Reviewing reports and certificates relating to performance solutions is one of the most common requests Planned Cover has received in 2022, and 2021 before that. Risk Manager Wendy Poulton outlines some key factors to consider.
Time Management in Practice
Having enough time is one of the greatest challenges facing architects in practice. Time is valuable. Michael Lewarne advises on how to eke out more, with tips on planning, frameworks, strategies, meetings, eliminating distractions, and avoiding perfectionism.
5 Benefits of Improving PIM at your Practice
Deltek shows how improving your project information management processes will enhance document and email management for your practice.
Emma Brain shares insights about the CareerTrackers program, with interviews with University Program Director Sharon Hiserman and Alumni Program Manager and former participant Darcee Duroux.
Fee Calculation – Part Two
When it comes to making decisions on an appropriate project fee, time isn’t the only consideration. ACA Vic/Tas President Paul Viney continues his fee discussion with Madeleine Swain from AR, exploring other important factors to consider, such as risk and the value of innovation.
Trends & Challenges in Practice
Architecture and engineering firms across the Asia Pacific describe the business challenges they are currently facing and how they are planning to overcome them.
Partial services and the Architect GP
Architectural outlier Sarah Hobday-North shares her preference for partial services work – the benefits, the challenges and the fundamental differences.
Practice pressures and opportunities
How can architects tackle technology, rising costs and the race to secure great talent? Deltek and the ACA hosted a roundtable to find out.
Reducing the impacts of cyber attack
Cyber attack, data loss and cyber extortion are top risks for Australian practices. Planned Cover highlights the impact of cybercrime, some of the cyber hygiene practices that can reduce threats, and the role of cyber insurance.
How to create a good parental leave policy
A good Parental Leave Policy is essential to creating a workplace culture and policy environment that supports parents at all stages. This helps ensure that raising a family doesn’t derail or devalue the career of a talented and valued individual, while also enabling the practice to accrue long-term benefits from investing in staff training and development. This article offers an approach to developing and implementing a parental leave policy.
Referrals – the unsung hero of the marketing toolbox
Rachael Bernstone explores the topic of Referrals – how to collect them, how to use them, and how to monitor their effectiveness in relation to inquiries from prospective clients, lead generation and new projects.
Moving beyond spreadsheets
Spreadsheets play a pivotal role in business, but for many practices they have their challenges, from version control to errors to wasted time. Is it time to move beyond spreadsheets in your practice?
Five Tips for Succession Planning
Danny Chung, National Head of the Built Environment with Macquarie Business Banking, offers valuable succession planning advice, outlining five factors that will ensure you receive full value for your practice when the time comes to sell.
Architects the Prisoners of Dilemma
Michael Lewarne uses the Prisoner’s Dilemma to raise the issue of architects low balling fees and doing free work in order to win bids. What can be done to ensure architects value their work and reflect the true cost of projects when setting fees?
Fee Calculation – Part One
It’s a topic that is fraught for practices small and large, but the ACA’s Vic/Tas President is an expert. In the first of a series of articles, Madeleine Swain from AR and the ACA’s Paul Viney discuss the most important aspects of fee calculation.
Alternative Dispute Resolutions for Consultants
Vesna Koteska, Risk Manager from informed by Planned Cover, unpacks the detail of alternative dispute resolution for consultants through the prism of PI insurance.
Resource Management & Profitability
ACA Partner Deltek spoke to architecture industry leaders Mark Murphy from Fender Katsalidis and Scott Huston from DesignInc Sydney to learn the key to successful resource management and its effects on their businesses.
Why Novation is in the Spotlight
In November 2021, Wendy Poulton presented an informative one-hour webinar on Novation. Here she lists the reasons why the topic is so important and what makes a better novation experience.
Confidentiality in Practice
Confidentiality agreements are common in practice, but how do you manage them? Cordilia Thomas, Risk Manager from Planned Cover, takes us through the basics and offers tips on managing your confidentiality obligations.
The Value of Architecture
Rachael Bernstone of Sounds like Design connects the wellbeing of architects with fee-setting and communicating the value of architecture.
Emma Williamson’s recent presentation for the ACA’s annual Business of Design lunch in Adelaide took the audience through the strategies she and partner Kieran Wong have used in building and rebuilding their business over the last 25 years.
That’s a RAP!
On 3 June, the ACA hosted a webinar with TheFulcrum.Agency on the importance of Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs). Emma Brain provides a recap.
PI Insurance – Past, Present & Future
Planned Cover National Business Manager Cos Cirocco reflects on the evolution of PI Insurance in the building industry, the impacts of the NSW D&BP Act on the insurance market, and future changes and complexities in the industry.
Best Practices in Document Management
Efficient document management assists practices in being more profitable and reducing risk. Deltek’s Linda Dininger offers her tips on streamlining processes and freeing up your time for the more enjoyable aspects of practice.
Proportionate Liability & Contributory Negligence
Proportionate liability and contributory negligence can be powerful legal protections in the event of an alleged claim made against you, but how can you best manage your risk? Felicity Dixon offers some timely advice.
Streamlining Your Resource Planning
Resource management is crucial for architecture practices, but few have an effective planning structure in place. Deltek offers three recommendations for getting it right.
Negotiating Government Tenders
Architects must collectively resolve to stop accepting unfair or uninsurable contract terms, argues Laura Harding from Hills Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects.
Enhancing Workplace Communication
Parlour’s comprehensive Work & Wellbeing survey increases understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on Australian architecture. The answers to the open questions, in particular, contain a wealth of advice and reflection, and reiterate the need for improved communication. Anwyn Hocking identifies the core themes and assembles key advice.
Management for Design FAQs
Management for Design responds to some frequently asked questions for ACA members, covering everything from strategic plans and building a team, to resource and project management, profitability and financial control, and the critical ingredients to successful leadership.
2020 in Review and Beyond
Cos Cirocco and Karen Meiklejohn from Planned Cover review the year that was, offering a snapshot of the state of the professional indemnity market and projecting forward to future trends.
Communicating the Value of Design Development
How do we advocate for the value of this critical part of the design process? Jennifer Crawford provides a clear, concise explainer on why DD matters.
Collaboration, profitability & technology
Technology is an enabler for A&E firms. But how does it impact collaboration and profitability? In an interview with ACA CEO Angelina Pillai, Deltek explores the issues surrounding their recently published Clarity A&E Industry Report.
Demystifying Cyber Protection Insurance
Planned Cover demystifies cyber protection insurance, offering an explainer on terminology and what it all means for your business.
The Value of Good Communication
UK-based communications professional Celeste Bolte argues that architects need to become better storytellers, to engage the public, and assert their relevance through simple and meaningful communication.
Cyber Crime in the Age of COVID-19
As we all try to adapt to a changed world, cyber criminals are taking advantage of changes to our physical working conditions and day-to-day processes. Planned Cover takes a look at the issues around cybersecurity and offers tips on protecting your practice.
Elevation Architecture’s Digital Transformation
Rachel Tilleyshort of Elevation Architecture takes us through her firm’s digital transformation, with substantial profitability and productivity gains since implementing Deltek Project Information Management (PIM).
Running a Practice in Lockdown
Warwick Mihaly shares the challenges of trying to run a small practice in lockdown while supervising remote learning with small children and keeping his business afloat.
Making Marketing Gold From Your Award Entries
Rachael Bernstone, journalist and comms consultant, offers some tips on how to increase your return-on-investment for awards entries.
Effective Leadership with Remote Teams
Robert Peake, principal of Management for Design, offers his top tips for effective leadership with remote teams, including setting clear expectations and following through, giving trust freely, and managing achievement, not time.
COVID-19 Fallout - Contract Questions
As COVID-19 disruption hits projects, supply chains and timelines, Wendy Poulton, Principal of informed Lawyers Pty Ltd, looks at some popular contract questions.
IT Advice for Working Remotely
As many practices start shifting employees to working from home arrangements, Peter Johns offers comprehensive advice on all things tech, from computers, software, internet and email to useful apps and file storage solutions. He also offers some terrific tips on ergonomics, team morale and using that downtime productively.
Housing Displaced Residents
Peter Johns recalls the project to provide temporary housing at Kinglake following the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, and reflects on lessons learned and how the profession might be effectively involved in the current recovery.
Climate Change Consideration in Design
informed by Planned Cover Risk Manager Kathryn Budd offers advice on managing your risk and your professional obligations related to environmental standards and climate change. What is the role of construction industry professionals in making positive change?
Tips for Pro Bono Work
Dunn and Hillam Director Lee Hillam shares her experiences and tips about incorporating pro bono work into practice in a sustainable way.
A Review of the 2019 Insurance Market
As 2019 draws to a close, Planned Cover's Cos Cirocco and Adele Monaco take a look back, reviewing the insurance market and claims landscape of the past 12 months and advising on how best to navigate it in the immediate future.
Internet Chat in Practice
As online chat gains popularity, and boundaries between home and work become blurred, how do we take advantage of quick, easy communication without compromising our work or our mental health? Sarah Hobday-North explores the issues.
The No. 1 Mistake Architects Make With Design Fees
Design fee consultant Ian Motley explains how architects can increase architectural fees and profit margins with a simple change to their pricing strategy.
The Business of Design
Kerstin Thompson’s recent presentation for the ACA - SA was a thoughtful reflection on the business of design, busting some stubborn myths about architectural practice, and emphasising the need to balance design quality with business practice excellence, financial strength, thriving people and workplace health.
The Benefits of Giving Back
Improving the built environment of communities in need does not have to be an all or nothing proposition, says Leeanne Marshall, who presents a variety of ways to make an impact, both big and small.
State of the Insurance Market
The world of insurance has changed rapidly over the last 12 to 18 months. Planned Cover Victorian State Manager Laurence Gottlieb gives us an overview of a toughening market.
The Social Conscience of Architecture
Robert Goodliffe recently spoke at an ACA – Vic/Tas event on the importance of social responsibility in architecture, revealing how a holistic approach can build culture internally and provide a resilient business model.
Tips for Time Management
Running a practice can be unrelenting, changeable and extremely demanding. How do you manage your time in such an unpredictable environment? Rena M. Klein offers some tips.
Partnership Protection Insurance
Do you have partners in your business? Have you got a safety net in place in case disaster strikes? Planned Cover’s Sherren Hepburn explores the benefits of partnership protection insurance.
How to Solve the Building Practitioner Insurance Crisis in Australia
The PI insurance crisis is upon us - but how did it come to this? Senior Construction Lawyer Kim Lovegrove identifies the key challenges, and outlines his ideas for bringing the Australian building industry back from the brink.
Putting People in the Picture
Why are people largely absent from our architectural imagery? As a profession that designs and builds spaces for people, perhaps we need to be more conscious of including people in our floorplans and models, writes Fiona Young.
Avoiding Cyber Attacks
What are the crown jewels of your practice? Where are they stored and how secure are they? Sherren Hepburn from Planned Cover takes a look at the issues around cybersecurity and offers tips on protecting your precious assets.
Deloitte Private Principal Adam Russell explores how cloud computing and balanced strategic decision making can drive performance and growth.
Novation - A Guide for Architects
Novation can create confusion for architects and builders alike. Christopher Larcos offers a legal primer to the contractual rights and obligations of a novated project.
Forget Design Quality, it’s all about Design Risk!
Thinking about design risk in strategic terms is imperative for the profession, but it is often sidelined in practice, and is barely mentioned in architecture schools. Peter Raisbeck explores the concept of design risk.
Risk Management - A Refresher
Risk Manager Felicity Dixon takes us through the fundamentals of risk management, advising on how best to identify, manage and allocate risk.
Managing Risk 101
Risk management is crucial to effective practice management. Robert Peake outlines the key issues, from business structures and insurances to fee agreements and negotiation.
It’s time to ditch the idea of the architectural rock star, embrace a more collaborative approach, and communicate far and wide, argues Jennifer Crawford.
What difficulties can ensue if client and architect fall out? Christopher Larcos has prepared a fascinating case note on a recent court decision that could affect architects who take over mid-project.
Building Industry Fairness
The Queensland government recently issued a series of reforms to improve security of payment for subcontractors. Risk Manager Cordilia Thomas looks at the detail.
Survey Results Available!
The second independent survey of business and practice management systems has uncovered some interesting findings.
Non-compliant Cladding and Insurance Exclusions
Insurance specialist Laurence Gottlieb explores the issue of non-compliant cladding and other materials, warning of the changes afoot in the insurance industry.
A Quick Look at Anchoring
How can architects benefit from the subtle nudge of an anchor? Ian Motley takes another look at the psychology of negotiation.
The Business of Small Practice
The ACA - WA’s first Business of Small Practice forum focused on the importance of the ‘connected economy’, with networking and relationships at its core, writes Rachael Bernstone.
New Business Models
Jennifer Crawford argues that the question of fees is really a question of business models. Architects need to work out what their ‘super power’ is, and charge accordingly.
Is Regulation the Answer to Fee Madness?
Is reintroducing fee scales and further regulation the solution to fee slashing and ‘the race for the bottom’ among architects? Is this really feasible in a world of increasing globalisation and diversification of service providers? Ceilidh Higgins considers other options.
Addressing Architecture’s Wicked Problems through Affordances
Fiona Young argues that we need to understand briefing as a key part of the architect's role, develop a common understanding with clients to ensure the best outcome, and charge fees accordingly.
Fee Redemption: A mutually assured future
The conversation about fees is taking off across social media. John Held argues that many of the contemporary problems facing architects derive from unpriced risk, and that nationwide research and smarter business practices are part of the solution.
Insurance and Sexual Harassment Claims
Special Counsel Sarah Wood outlines the insurance implications of sexual harassment claims, and suggests risk mitigation strategies for architectural practices.
Insurance for Architectural Practices
Planned Cover Manager of Projects and Compliance Vanessa Collins gives a full rundown of the different types of insurance and the protections they provide.
Common Claims and How to Avoid Them
Experienced Claims Manager Kerrie McLeish discusses the most common claims she sees and gives valuable advice on how to avoid them.
Keeping on Top of Tech
Delegating your technology needs to your IT team is a mistake, argues Robert Peake. As a leader you need to understand and drive the IT strategy within your business.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Is the limit on your professional indemnity insurance policy enough? Planned Cover’s Kerrie McLeish explores the issues.
New BIM Taskforce
ACA - Qld/NT and the Australian Institute of Architects Qld have joined forces to create a BIM Taskforce to help architects and practices become BIM capable.
Should You Merge Your Firm? Probably!
Merging your firm can make good business sense. Robert Peake outlines the many benefits that a company merge can have for small practice owners.
Three Keys to Creating a Valuable Social Media Presence
Social media should be an important part of the every architectural practice's communication program, but not all architects know how to proceed. Kate Potter explains how to get started.
We Need to Talk about Money
Peter Raisbeck provides a snappy outline of the ten profit drivers of small architectural practice.
Business Systems Survey Results
Do you know where to start when choosing a new business management system for your practice?
Construction contracts - avoiding the pitfalls
Do your construction project contracts reflect your appetite for risk? Mark Glynn explores the issues.
Managing your way to profitability
Dynamic leadership, talented employees, exciting projects and appreciative clients mean little if a firm is stressed and struggling with its bottom line, says Jennekin Dicks. Managing profitability well can make all the difference.
6 Business Tips for Architects
How do you increase the value of your business and put your clients front and centre? Lindy Johnson shares six helpful tips.
Negotiation tactics: Preconditioned to succeed
Preconditioning is a negotiation tactic with a friendly facade and a dangerous bite. Ian Motley from Blue Turtle Consulting shows us how to use the preconditioning tactic to our advantage.
Social media in practice - a case study
Emma Brain outlines CODA's approach to social media, which has enabled the Fremantle-based practice to build a national profile and engage with clients and colleagues across the country.
Who Takes the Risk?
Wendy Poulton reflects on the changing landscape of risk in architectural practice, and offers a check list of ten things to look for in commercial consultancy agreements.
Do Your Contracts Contain ‘Unfair Terms’?
What will the new Unfair Contract Terms law mean for architects? Planned Cover and Jackson Macdonald take a look.
Negotiation - Beware the Nibble
One of the least ethical negotiation tactics clients can use is the nibble. Design fee consultant Ian Motley explains what it is and how to strategise to achieve a good outcome for all.
Research in Architectural Practice - 6 ways for architects to create upstream knowledge
How can your practice amplify its research capability? Peter Raisback suggests six strategies.
Ensuring Australia's future in BIM
It's essential that Australia has a consistent approach towards BIM implementation, ensuring its future growth can support international opportunities, argues Rebecca De Cicco.
Architecture and Design Fees: Why Hourly Rates?
The value of a company today is based on ideas rather than assets or staff numbers, so why do architects still charge by the hour? Ceilidh Higgins explores the possibilities for non-traditional fee structures.
Becoming a B Corp: Using business for the power of good
Lee Hillam outlines the process of becoming a B Corp and the benefits that flow from it.
A Cautionary Note on Software Cost Structures
Software costs structures are changing; this could have significant impact on your business’s long-term profitability. ACA - WA outlines the issues.
Where to From Here: Embracing technological change
Is architecture on the verge of the greatest change in centuries? Ceilidh Higgins looks to the future and predicts disruption of epic proportions. Part of the ACA's Where to From Here series.
Managing for Happiness
Nurturing a company culture of opportunity and challenge, support and appreciation is not just about giving you a warm fuzzy feeling - it can increase your bottom line. Rena Klein makes the case.
How to Improve Productivity with Design Thinking
Your staff are the best people to work out how to improve the productivity of your practice. Rena Klein explains the benefits of an Operational Improvement Charette, and provides a guide to running one.
Want to be More Profitable? Here's How.
How can small architectural practices be more profitable? Rena Klein outlines the issues to consider, and some strategies for getting started.
Splitting the difference
Is 'splitting the difference' really fair? Ian Motley explains how to respond to suggestions in fee negotiations.
Using the Security of Payment Act - Q&A
Robert Macindoe has successfully used the Security of Payment Act to recover outstanding fees. He answers key questions about the process.
A Seven-Step Guide to using the Security of Payment Act
Robert Macindoe offers a guide to using the Security of Payments Act, based in firsthand experience.
When to Keep Silent in a Fee Negotiation
Ian Motley discusses body language, the power of silence and how architects can turn these tactics to their advantage.
BIM - the Architects' Trojan Horse
Peter Barda argues that BIM offers a way for architects to regain their role as trusted advisor.
Cyber Attacks and Insurance
What are the exposures of hacking and other cyber criminal activity to your business? Alex Conlon of BJS Insurance Brokers considers the issues in this emerging risk area.
Are you the Good Cop or the Bad Cop?
Ian Motley provides advice on how to respond when potential clients use the 'good cop / bad cop' tactic during fee negotiations.
Unfair Contract Terms
The Federal Treasury has committed to extending unfair contract protections to small businesses. Mario Dreosti provides an overview.
Are You Negotiating Against Yourself?
Ian Motley argues that fee erosion is often the result of standard negotiation tactics. He explains how to recognise when you are ‘negotiating against yourself’ and how to avoid it.
BIM and Insurance
What are the insurance implications of BIM for architects? Alex Conlon of BJS Insurance Brokers considers the issues in this emerging field.
Making Strategy Happen
Does your practice have an effective strategic plan? Robert Peake, of Management for Design, outlines the importance of strategy, and suggests some ways to get started.
To BIM or not to BIM? What a Question!
How might the industry encourage clients to take up BIM?
Presenting to Government
How architects present in government contexts can have a large impact on their chances of getting the job, or gaining support for a project. Jill Garner, Victorian Associate Government Architect, offers some tips.
Navigating planning systems
Planning lawyer Paul Vergotis offers a set of tips to help manoeuvre an architectural project through planning systems from proposal to success.
The Art and Science of Increasing Profits
Ian Motley argues that the profession needs to radically rethink the overall approach to fees and pricing work.
Architectural Fees: what, how and where to...
Antony Di Mase canvasses the complexities of setting fees and the valuing of architectural work, arguing that we need consensus on how fees are determined.
Into the Abyss
Does excessive fee-cutting mean the profession is presiding over its own demise? George Zillante outlines the issues.
An essay by Randy Deutsch that argues that architects need to rethink and redefine their role if the profession is to survive.Link
Client Risk Management
What potential risks might clients present? What are the warning signs? What strategies and structures can architects use to reduce risk?
10 Principles for Building an Architectural Business
How do you build an architectural business? Charles Justin offers 10 principles to guide a practice.
Head in the Cloud
Is it reassuring or not to be told there are many definitions for ‘the Cloud’? Dean Wood reports and reflects on a recent ACA - WA event.
I've Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now ...
John Held considers the opportunities and costs of cloud computing in small practice.
Making Email Work
Useful tips from Prodonovich Advisory.
Professional Indemnity Insurance, Risk and AS 4122
Jack Birrell on the things to consider when choosing your insurance provider.
Changes to the Privacy Act
An overview of changes to the Privacy Act from March 12.
New Insurance Agreement re AS 4122
A new agreement with Planned Cover means that architects insured with it after 17 March are automatically covered for the current version of AS 4122 - 2010.
Getting Paid: Security of Payment
Peter Sarlos explains the Security of Payment Act and how architects might use it to their benefit.
More on Fees and PI Insurance
Damian Harrison, of BJS Insurance Brokers, responds to Peter Sarlos’s concerns about PI insurance precluding claims for fees.
Architects & Social Media
How can architects use social media effectively for business and professional development?
AS4122-2010 General Conditions of Contract
The ACA recommends members use AS4122-2010, General Conditions of Contract for consultants.
An Insurance Perspective on the Assumed Liability Exclusion in AS 4122-2010
Damian Harrison comments on recent concerns about the ‘assumed liability’ exclusion in AS 4122-2010.
Fees & Professional Indemnity Insurance
Does your PI insurance preclude claims for fees? Peter Sarlos outlines the issues.
Fees - Being Able To Do What An Architect Should Do
Peter Sarlos on the challenges of calculating fees and conveying the value of an architect's work to clients.
Safe Design - What You Need To Know
Anna Piatkowksa provides an update on current safe design requirements and the ACA’s Safe Design Process.
Releasing CAD Files to Clients
Architects are increasingly being asked to release CAD files to clients. What are the implications of doing so? Damian Harrison of BJS Insurance Brokers gives an insurance perspective.