ARE Project Management Subject: Developing and Maintaining a Workplan
A workplan is a term that describes how an architect (and the project team) will execute the scope of work of an architectural project. The workplan is most often internal to the project team and is linked directly to an architectural firm's operational approach that considers, balances, and aligns several factors:
- Project Schedule: As with any plan, schedule is a critical component. A workplan will need to address all aspects of the project schedule and the following questions: when is occupancy expected? Is there an established construction start date? When are permits needed? When will the project go out for bid? Are there specific design review submittal targets (dates) to obtain the necessary project approvals from the governing agencies?
- Project Scope: A thorough understanding of the project scope and identification of the tasks needed to be accomplished are critical to the development of a solid workplan. Consider the following questions: what services will the firm be providing to accomplish the project scope? Will there be any pre-design services needed such as programming or assistance in procuring site surveys or geotechnical reports? Is the project "ground-up" new construction, addition, remodel, or combination? What consultants are needed as part of the design team? How does the client anticipate selecting a general contractor: via design/bid/build or via a negotiation process? What are the specific tasks required by the project team to accomplish the scope?
- Staff: Matching staff to the specific assignments/tasks required by the project will often determine how successful the project is for the firm (and the client). Consider the following: who will make up the project team? What roles and responsibilities will each team member have? How well does each staff's experience match-up with the roles and responsibility needs of the project? How available are the staff? What are the billing rates of each staff member working on the project? Are all staff on the project experienced in the firm's operational processes, or will some staff need to receive on-the-job training?
- Fees: Considering the previous three factors, project schedule, project scope, and staff can help determine the professional fees needed.
Armed with a solid understanding of the project schedule, scope of work and tasks, team make-up, and fees, a workplan can be developed to methodically progress through the project. The workplan provides a big picture view of how the project will be completed, down to what needs to be done monthly, weekly, and daily. Further, a workplan will establish target durations for tasks needed to properly coordinate the work with the broader team, including consultants. These target durations are tracked and aligned with professional fees to help the team stay on-budget, which can lead to a profitable endeavor for the firm. The bottom line is that a workplan is an architect's game plan for a successfully executed project.