A collaboration between David Evans & Matthew Johnson.

The value of a well-coordinated project consultant team is often underappreciated until it is too late to do anything about it.

It’s a commonly held misconception that consultant selection should be based purely on the lowest possible fee. It is also common to see fee and scope submissions from other consultants utilised to drive down the fees for the “preferred” consultant. To their own detriment, consultants often succumb to these tactics, buckle under client pressure, and offer lower fees, usually by reducing scope to such minimal levels that it sometimes becomes impossible to deliver an effective outcome with such limiting constraints.

We believe that by simply viewing a consultant team as an expense, many clients are missing the opportunity to extract the best value from their team, from their property and their total project investment.

You wouldn’t buy a small site to fit a large building; we would invest in the right property for the project. You wouldn’t build a straw house in a swamp; we would invest in solid foundations for when the wolf comes knocking. So why do we constrain scope to save cents in the dollar when we should be investing in a better project outcome.

So, how to use an Architectural Service to extract the best skills and best value from the Consultant team?

Trust your consultants

An in-house example, the POWE Team recently undertook a project for a new client, with multiple sites and business units, which needed to be delivered in a tight timeframe. The client had multiple business units, a global reach and a 24/7 business model; business continuity throughout the project was critical to the client.

To ensure continuity, the client established critical deadlines and timeframes. The POWE Team recognised the opportunity to surround the client with an effective, well-coordinated consultant team. We fostered the client’s trust to completely focus the team on delivering the best result for the client.
Our approach resulted in a project strategy and delivery based on this trust; always backed up with the hard project and fiscal reality, with regular, practical updates to cost, time and budget.

Throughout this process, time or cost impacts were immediately recognised and addressed. The approach was always about problem-solving, managed risk, continuing discussions and consultant involvement throughout construction, to reach a positive outcome.

The result provided the client with two new bespoke premises, successfully delivered to meet their client’s detailed requirements, under the original QS budget whilst continuing their ongoing operations.

For more detail, click through to read our Hexagon Case Study.

A tailored approach

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

“Make me one with everything.”

Allow your project to be like the Buddhist monk and make it One with everything by beginning your journey with a broad appreciation of all of the value that architectural consultants can bring. Too often we see scopes of service focussed on delivering a certain depth of documentation without valuing that there a many more parallel services that can be utilised for the benefit of the project.

Designing the ultimate solution for a project is not sticking to the first idea and producing reams of paper that will inevitably be difficult to construct and yield marginal outcomes for a client. The iterative process of idea, refinement, validation, reimagining sees more value realisation in producing the ideas that will ultimately be rejected but continue to spark new concepts.

As John Cleese once said about the creative approach to writing for Monty Python,

“The really good idea is always traceable back quite a long way, often to a not very good idea which sparked off another idea that was only slightly better, which somebody else misunderstood in such a way that they then said something which was really rather interesting.”

Tailored to breadth & depth

Consider the scope you need & accept your consultants service proposal for that tailored scope.
Instead of asking them to reduce their fee, ask where they can add value or find savings in the whole project, not just their own fees.

What developers often misunderstand is that a consultant team can deliver so much more than “time spent” and “drawings delivered”. Grinding down consultant fees to the bottom dollar, means consultants are unable to consider and explore additional options or solutions for a project that deliver better project outcomes in both short and long term.

This is the first of a series of short articles, collaborations between Matthew Johnson & David Evans, on how to extract the best value outcomes from a consultant team. Also in this series:

Other articles by David Evans

The New (office) Normal

Other articles by Matthew Johnson

Mastering Virtual meetings