Learning from your challenges

Professional service firms should strive for continuous improvement. Firms that systematically review project outcomes and decision-making processes and then make the necessary improvements in policies and procedures will improve their chances of a more favorable outcome the next time they encounter a challenging situation. Firms should consider developing a “Lessons Learned” program that is intended... Continue Reading →

Prepare your crisis management plans

In light of the sudden collapse of the condominium building in Surfside, Florida in June of this year, every design firm should think about what they would do in a crisis. While sudden catastrophic failures are very rare, each firm should go through the steps of planning different scenarios that are specific to their practices.... Continue Reading →

Be aware of current CDC mask recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that everyone — including fully vaccinated individuals — wear masks in indoor public settings in all areas with substantial and high transmission of the COVID-19 virus. They also recommend testing following exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. The CDC made this... Continue Reading →

Be wary of underfunded clients

As the resurgent economy demands more housing, private infrastructure, and other capital assets, a design firm faces the increased possibility that a client might encounter financial troubles. In addition to carefully vetting your client to determine their ability to successfully fund a project, you should understand your legal positions if a client experiences cash-flow problems.... Continue Reading →

New ESG baseline for professional services

In May, the Biden Administration issued its Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk to establish a policy framework for maintaining the integrity of the US financial system as it relates to climate change. The Order was aimed at prioritizing climate change from an economic standpoint and raising the flag for the continued risks of physical... Continue Reading →

NOAA documents increasing high-tide flooding

Design firms have to be aware of the changing climate and variable weather patterns when providing services for new capital assets. Such awareness is especially vital when designing facilities in coastal areas. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) annually publishes information on “high-tide flooding.” That refers to tides that reach anywhere from 1.75 to 2 feet... Continue Reading →

Define communication protocols in your agreements

Clients are increasingly using text messages to provide direction and relay important project information. This can be problematic for design firms that want to document such communications in their project files. Firms find that following up via email takes additional time, and the client may not respond to the email, which creates ambiguity. Firms that... Continue Reading →

Environmental, social, and governance disclosures for private design firms

Although most design firms are privately owned, they, too, are dramatically impacted by the demand for businesses to address and disclose environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. Firms face increasing pressure not only from environmentalists and human rights activists, but also from elected officials, regulators, and even their lenders. ESG disclosure is becoming necessary because... Continue Reading →

Designer risks in commodity pricing and supply chain disruptions

As the US emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased demand for construction materials—a demand that will surge if Congress ever passes infrastructure revitalization investment legislation. Limited product inventory and ongoing supply change disruptions only compound the issue of swelling demand as this leads to increased construction costs and longer lead times for obtaining materials. In... Continue Reading →

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