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I am a junior architect, just starting to work with the team on my third major project in a medium-sized office.
On the first couple projects I worked on, I was amazed at the sheer amount of information that needs to be kept track of. Mainly product/system information and meeting notes, but also other random stuff too. I took notes and had a notebook, but was overwhelmed with the quantity of information, and want to avoid that if possible. Primarily I want never have to say “I don’t remember” or “I’m not sure” when I am asked about decisions that have been made in the project.
It can be either digital or paper in a notebook. I do have an iPad with a stylus that I could use for this, however I think that the convenience and ubiquity of pen and paper will likely win over the iPad.
Surely some of you more experienced architects out there have good systems for keeping this all organized. So what are your tips or systems you like to use?
We use Newforma project management software. Its best feature is the ability to file and search every email coming in and out of a project. It also allows you to track downloads of transmittals to see who has received them and who has not. Between those two features, you can track and retrieve almost all project correspondence without having to max out disk space on your Outlook.
Another tip is to create a well-organized network folder structure and maintain it. Keep folders for every document release, scan every marked up submittal, record every RFI and response and do it in such a way that you will easily be able to retrieve what you have filed. It sounds obvious, but I have met very few people organized enough to do it.
Finally, keep and issue detailed meeting minutes to the entire team. Yes, these are a pain in the ass, considering how many meetings we attend, but this is not something I will leave for an admin to do. It's too important to record mutually agreed upon direction and resubmit it back to Owners and Contractors to confirm. It also helps instill confidence in the Owner that you are hearing what they are saying.
I've worked on several multi-million dollar projects and am still yet to have one claim filed against a project I was managing. I think one of the reasons why is that Owners know that I have a detailed and organized record of the entire project and are quite frankly hesitant to makes challenges because I have the record to back up my side of the dispute. Generally, Owners are not as organized on their end. It just takes an incredible amount time and attention to detail to get it right.
Big folder with colored folders inside it. Give yourself a system - red folder is for emails, yellow for shop drawings, blue for contract documents, etc etc. Use it religiously - whenever you have something related to the project either put it in or make a copy and put that in. Whenever you get or send an email copy it and throw it in - even though its still in your computer.
Use end tab labels on the folders so you can tell the different projects apart. Give yourself a some space on a bookshelf for the folders - you can use bookends (like this http://www.amazon.com/Universal-Economy-Bookends-Standard-Heavy/dp/B001E6CT8A ) to keep all the folders upright and straight.
I think you shuld also try basecamp for project management. Basecamp is a Web-based solution that offers the ability to easily collaborate and track progress via any Internet browser. Due to its ease of use and low pricing plans, it is popular amongst both small and mid-sized companies.
Project Management System