18 November 2008 : Operations at Design Companies

Our November 2008 forum event provided an opportunity for directors, managers and senior operations staff to discuss the issue of improving operations and business processes in design and professional companies.
The forum was held at Saatchi & Saatchi on Charlotte Street, W1 from 4-6pm on 18 November 2008.

Summary

  • Graham Clark from Cranfield University spoke about about how design companies can achieve operational excellence without "losing their soul". Graham's presentation is here.
  • Monica Parrott from Gensler spoke about "The Case for Quality Management". Monica's presentation is here.
  • Michael Jones from Broadway Malyan, reflected on their current business process management systems, and what they are looking for in a new system. Mick's presentation is here.
  • Rory Campbell-Lange of CLW discussed the role of operations in design companies.

November 2008 forum

Forum Notes

The aim of the forum was to gain insights into effective business process management through a series of presentations.

Michael Jones, the Director of Architecture at Broadway Malyan, spoke about the development of their process management systems and what they are looking for in a new system, including what their pioneering use of project management software has taught them.

Monica Parrott, a Senior Associate and the Quality Manager at Gensler, spoke about ISO-9001 certification and its implementation at Gensler, as well as the general benefits of quality control management system compliance in architectural firms.

Graham Clark, the Director of the Executive MBA Programme at Cranfield University and a Senior Lecturer in Operations Management, spoke about management systems and the benefits of standardising as much as possible without losing the company's 'soul'.

Rory Campbell-Lange, a Director of Campbell-Lange Workshop, rounded off with a presentation on the importance of integrating IT systems and business process management to form an effective whole.

IT Strategy Diagram
Viewing Operational Strategy in context. From Rory's presentation

All the presentations focused on the central importance to design firms of standardisation and transparency in their operations systems as the best way of combating common problems in the industry. The most important of these were the danger of 'reinventing the wheel' with every new job, and the waste of time and money involved in using ad hoc operational procedures.

Each presenter focused on the issues from a different angle. Graham noted that from a general management point of view, systematising as much as possible makes economic and operational sense. At the same time he emphasised the degree of support that ought to be given to staff in order to streamline the process while ensuring that the company does not lose its individuality. In a similar vein, Monica noted the current ubiquity of ISO certification in the construction industry, and made the points that compliance can not only ensure quality and efficiency, but (if tailored to the specific company) will actually promote innovation and flexibility. She cited the use Gensler had made of templates and filing systems in order to achieve this end. Rory emphasised the increasing necessity of integrating IT and business process systems to maximise the potential of a company. Michael described Broadway Malyan's work to build business process systems, showing where successive iterations of these had succeeded and failed. From this experience the company has identified the key requirements and features of what it is looking for in a new system.

Broadway Malyan's list of system requirements
Broadway Malyan's list of system requirements.

Speakers

  • Monica Parrott, Gensler
  • Mick Jones, Broadway Malyan
  • Graham Clarke, Cranfield University
  • Rory Campbell-Lange, Campbell-Lange Workshop

Attendees

  • Jevon Tucker, 3dReid
  • Gem Ahmet, AKT Engineers
  • Liz Parr, Allies and Morrison
  • Sam Hayles, Allies and Morrison
  • Steven Griffin, Allies and Morrison
  • Maria Nearchou, Cartwright Pickard
  • Jochen Glemser, David Chipperfield
  • Paul Crosby, David Chipperfield
  • David Appel, FCB Studios
  • Robert Wilson, Heatherwick Studio
  • Liz Middleton, Heatherwick Studio
  • Patrick Nee, Hopkins
  • Stuart Gateson, Hopkins
  • Ben Marston, Jestico and Whiles
  • Richard Brown, Keith Williams
  • Craig Barrett, ORMS
  • Jacquie Went, Stephen Davy Peter Smith
  • Rob Naybour, Weston Willaimson

Suppliers

  • Peter Walsham, Axomic/Open Asset
  • Daniel Logiudice, Cubic Interactive/Rapport
  • Matthew Nickerson, Union Square
  • Andy Heath, ProjectMinder

About the Forums

Campbell-Lange Workshop runs forums on a regular basis. Most are for IT managers, and are intended to provide an informal environment in which attendees can discuss ideas, approaches and ways to improve working practices while keeping abreast of changes in the industry.