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Writing an Effective Project Brief

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Once your project is posted, it will get exposure.  But that exposure will not necessarily translate into interest from providers.  Getting the best results for your architectural or design projects, and generating optimum interest from providers is often determined by how best you describe your project.  The best projects are borne from briefs that are open enough to inspire ideas, while being specific enough to feel workable.

Whether you are a designer or a client, an effective project brief is the single most critical factor in ensuring a successful collaboration .  A project brief is a document focused on the desired results of project.  It should primarily focus on the results, outcomes as well as other objectives of the project.

Why Provide a Project Brief?

  • The purpose of the brief is to get everyone started with a common understanding of what’s to be accomplished. It gives direction and serves as a benchmark against which to test concepts and execution as you move through a project.
  • The ultimate responsibility for defining goals and objectives and identifying audience and context lies with the client. Another benefit of the brief is the clarity it pro¬vides you as the client about why you’re embarking on the project.

Writing An Effective Brief

The goal is to provide as much detail as possible.  You will need to come up with a list of requirements and include all relevant information meet your requirement.  After you’ve posted your project with your brief, it is quite possible that further questions will arise form provider try to get further clarification.  Below are a series of items you should be prepared to provide:

Who are you? What do you, or your business do?

A description of yourself often provides important information regarding the services and type of product you require.  Do not assume that the providers will know anything about you or your company.

What are the project goals?  Why?

  • What is the overall goal of the new project?
  • What are you trying to communicate and why?
  • How does the project differ from anything else out there?

Is there a targer market other than yourself? If so, who?

  • What are your target market’s demographics & phychographics? ie. the age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography, lifestyle of those you want to reach.

Tip: If you have multiple audiences, rank them in terms of importance.

What additional images/files/documents are needed?

  • What pictures / photographs / diagrams etc need to be used? Who is providing these?

What are the specifications?

  • What size is the design going to be?
  • What are the critical elements required?
  • Are there any limitations?
  • Where is it going to be used?

Tip: Unless you must, Don’t prescribe solutions.  You are paying for professional skills and ideas, so avoid the temptation to tell the service provider exactly what to do. Instead, be clear about what the project needs to achieve, so the designer can explore ideas. This is where you need the designer’s expertise.

Have you got a benchmark in mind?

  • You should provide the provider with some examples of what you consider to be effective or relevant results. This will set a benchmark for your provider.
  • Provide a list of things not to do, and things you do not like or wish to see in your project. This will give the provider an idea of what to avoid and will avoid disappointment on your behalf.

What Is Your Budget?

  • Providing a budget prevents providers wasting valuable time and  resources when trying to maximize your budget.
  • Providing the budget upfront also allows designers to know if the project is going to be worthwhile to complete. Make sure you are worth their time.

What is the timeframe / deadline?

  • Give your provider a detailed schedule of the project and set a realistic deadline for the completion of the work. You should take into account the various stages of the design project such as consultation, concept development, production and delivery.

Tip: Mistakes can be made if a complex job is pushed through without time to review, however, there are times when a rush job is needed, and in these cases you should be honest and upfront about it.

How will the project be delivered?

  • What Delivery Mechanisms do you prefer? If any require additional costs, make sure the provider is clear that this is covered in your project budget.
  • Describe any formatting issues you have with electronic media.

Remember, the more clues you give about your design tastes, the more likely your provider will be able to produce something close to, or even beyond your goals.

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Curb Appeal, New Eyes, and How Archability can Help

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I’m sure just about everyone is aware of the many difficulties the residential real estate market has been facing and may continue to encounter for the foreseeable future. According to the experts a combination of issues has contributed to the problem – over-building, foreclosures, sub-prime mortgages, and poor lending practices are all terms that have been included in the discussions.

If you have a home listed for sale or plan to put one on the market shortly, in all likelihood you’re experiencing the frustrations of trying to move a home in this depressing climate firsthand. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that sales contracts for previously occupied homes fell sharply in April – down to their lowest level since last fall. Home values have continued to drop in many regions – a trend attributed in part to the number of foreclosures still in the pipeline. So how do you sell a home in a market like this without losing a bundle in the process?

Fortunately, all the news isn’t bad. The NAR also reported that existing home sales for the first quarter of this year were up 8.3 percent over the fourth quarter of last year and we’re now on an annual pace of about 5.14 million existing home sales for this year. That’s a lot of homes that are being purchased — perhaps all you need to do to contribute to that statistic is price your house competitively and make it stand out from the rest.

A realtor contributing to an article in Remodeling Magazine made the comment that in today’s real estate market “curb appeal is king.” When your home is competing with so many other homes for the few qualified buyers considering a purchase, catching buyers’ eyes from the moment they pull up can help swing a deal in your favor. It may be as simple as having a beautifully landscaped front yard or creating an enticing entryway that’s easily noticeable from the street. Small roof line changes to the front elevation can sometimes give a home a fresh appearance or adding a little faux brick or stone might be just the small touch your house needs.

The secret is having an educated new set of eyes look at the front of your home. You’ve been looking at your house with the same set of eyes every day for months and maybe even years, but a landscape architect, draftsperson, or architect might take one look at the front of your home and know exactly what can be done to set it apart from the others.

When I build homes, I always have another construction manager walk them just prior to settlement and point out any defects I may have missed. It always amazes me how many small items I’ve walked past on a daily basis that a new set of eyes are able to pick out in a moment. Let the architectural service professionals you connect with through Archability be your new set of eyes and with a few inexpensive improvements, give your home the great curb appeal it needs to sell in a tough market.

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Finding Great Talent

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Great talent is hard to find. The recent global recession has only exacerbated the situation. And while this talent has been riding out the labor market Ice Age in an office or a cubicle somewhere, technology and the internet have been changing the work environment at a dizzying pace, and making the job of sourcing talent more complex, turbulent and inconsistent than ever before.

Here’s what you must know in order to stay relevant and keep your talent pipeline brimming.

A-level talent is already plugged into new technology. They are savvy and comfortable with using online job-search resources and are occupationally mobile. They are the antithesis to traditional labor concepts. And as you read this article, they are already roving the internet, tapping colleagues and looking for new opportunities.

So how do you find and acquire them? The simple answer is: Get on the internet. But the true answer is deeper and messier than that. You are going to have to fully commit to plugging into technology and the internet to source great talent. In addition to technology – people in general have changed.  They want personalized experiences in their job search, faster and easier methods to apply, efficient means of displaying their skills, and constant communication throughout the process. In order to find great talent, you must be engaged and active in all of these tactics and opportunities simultaneously, around the clock. And let’s be honest, if you had the time, money, resources and know-how to do this, you would already be doing it. Maybe you’ve tried some of these tactics to no avail. But chances are you need help.

By engaging these new mediums and tactics to source A-level talent along with the tried and true recruiting fundamentals, you will build the visibility and credibility of your brand. And when you do that, the tables are turned: A-level talent comes looking for you.

People also need to consider how they can best add value. The complexity of the recruitment landscape means becoming bogged down in transactional tasks, at the expense of more strategic priorities – acquiring A-level talent.
As a result, people and companies are shifting their focus to outsourcing the talent acquisition function as they realize they cannot (and should not) be all things to all people.

Outsourcing some of the functionality can free time and resources for people to start to look at how they are meeting more important and strategic goals. You need a partner who’s plugged into understanding your industry landscape, the competencies a candidate must have to succeed in delivering your projects, and the quickest and cheapest way to beating your competitors to the best talent.

Archability is that partner.

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