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outsourcing

Architecture Outsourcing Pros and Cons; A Full Review

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Have you ever heard a designer or an architect say “I’m in charrette! Leave me alone!”, or expressions like “charrette night”? The origin goes back to the intense period leading to project delivery at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, in the 19th century where a cart (which is called charrette in French) would be rolled through architecture students’ ateliers to collect the final scale models.

Students would frantically work on their work and wouldn’t give up until the last minute, so it would be called working in the charrette.

Why is that? Why do arts and design students, especially architecture majors always feel they lack behind the nerve-racking mountain of work for any project? It’s like it could never stop getting better.

Full closure; that doesn’t stop after the graduation either! Architecture firms too, always have a hard time getting by the latest stages of any project’s charrette.

One of the solutions that’s been around for some time now and has not made the big break it was expected to, is business process outsourcing or architecture outsourcing. It means handing over a part of your project to a third-party company that specializes in the particular job.

Unlike many sources you might bump into when you google outsourcing, we don’t just wanna go on a spiel about the benefits of outsourcing; rather we want to hear both sides of the story.

We will have a go at the advantages of outsourcing first. Then we discuss the downsides that have been holding the trend back from being the once-thought blockbuster.

Finally, we’ll say if the big hoopla around outsourcing is yet to come or if it is doomed to failure.

Here are the pros and cons of architecture outsourcing:

Pros

- Cut the costs, a whole lot

There’s a long list of items and services that are lifted off your responsibility by business process outsourcing particular parts of an architectural project.

Starting with the purchase and support of software load for modeling, visualization, and rendering; you will be free of all the hassle over software training and technicality that comes with it.

You won’t have to bear apprenticeship and human capital learning curve. So according to statistics, labor cost slumps by 20 to 30 percent when you outsource the presentation and modeling of your architectural project.

The added expense to keeping full-time staff for such jobs in the house like the pension and bonuses that are customary will be cut too.

- Have the latest software at your disposal

Tools to better model and showcase your design evolve over time, and with an ever-growing pace. By architecture outsourcing you can leave the headache over keeping up with the latest software’s licensing and the hardware upgrade it requires. But you leave that to a team that it is their job to worry about those.

- Buy expertise, and buy it cheap

Hiring a full-time CAD technician, for instance, would be expensive. Especially in the high-demand competitive professional market; So, outsourcing such services can go a long way.

Since all the best business process outsourcing firms bring an experienced, talented team together, employing the collective, specialized support of such firms would make much more sense than having a handful of high-priced full-time technicians in house.

The specialized world we live in is the macro visualization of such phenomenon. Industries and businesses thrive by leaving each part of the job to an expert section of the workforce that all collaboratively work together.

Being able to effectively communicate and collaborate on different portions of a project is another ability good outsourcing firms are best at; so with the right architecture outsourcing partner, you’ll have expertise brought to you all the same and better, but cheaper for sure.

- Boost your firm’s productivity

Most firms don’t just work on a single project at a given time. Passed a certain point along the development of an architecture firm, there’s usually a pipeline of projects that have to be dealt with simultaneously.

We’re not speaking out of terms here, cause such description that leads to the need for outsourcing is exactly are spoken for companies with such caliber. The ones that have gained enough fame and hence projects and have enough financial support to outsource parts of those projects.

By outsourcing, such architecture firms can put their focus where their skills lie, design; leaving parts like mere modeling or visualization of a project to a trusted third-party partner and make sure quick revisions can easily be made.

Plus, popular destinations for overseas architecture outsourcing mostly root back to countries in south or south-eastern Asia; so for example for your architecture firm in Europe or in the US, time difference can play to their benefit and have an end-of-the-night order ready on the next morning when you enter the office; all will be taken care of in your off hours.

- Make room for marketing

On the same note as boosting productivity when a firm outsources particular components of a project, the mentioned freed time can be allocated to marketing campaigns for the company and brandishing its outstanding work.

The time can be put into more properly promoting their business in the emerging market they are competing.

- Setbacks are not as time and resource-consuming anymore

Since you don’t have any concern over the quality and performance of the results you get from a trusted architecture outsourcing partner, a firm itself that comprises professional team members, frees up some time on your packed schedule behind a deadline and so setbacks and major modifications won’t take as long or at least you’ll have time to handle them correctly.

Plus, you’re on the brink of a road that your professional outsourcing partner has been down to, a bunch of times; so they know their way around the part they are assigned to and the chance to come to revisions in the first place will be much lower. Another worry you have to check off.

- Have constant care and support

It’s customary for all well-established business process outsourcing providers to offer 24/7 support services. So, one of the other benefits of outsourcing would be the time-independent communication with your partner; something you probably can’t have with a full-time technician that leaves after the end of the business day.

- It’s what makes sense

Down the road, it always comes down to money and the fact that it usually calls the shots. Outsourcing overseas can be all the rage since it helps the global economy and makes demanding, labor and cost-intensive projects feasible and all the more reasonable.

Plus, fees for the same service can vary greatly in different countries for reasons we won’t get to here; but the upshot is that the finished price for the same service can vary greatly by outsourcing; making it a benefit of outsourcing.

Cons

- It might jeopardize your firms’ long-term interests

Cynically put, dependence might mean liability and would be at odds with self-interest for a firm that’s trying to secure and expand their hold in the market.

On a broader scale, it might mean dependence to foreign labor which would raise patriotic or security concerns. One of the reasons for resistance, especially to outsourcing overseas is just that.

- Ineffective communication

Patriotic or national security concerns might seem like a bit of a stretch, but one of the most raised issues with outsourcing that’s withholding its full big break is unproductive, unwieldy communication among the employer and the business process outsourcing company.

Of course, not all outsourcing firms are perfect and live up to world-class standards. So that might be why a lot of sources have voiced ineffective and frustrating communication with an outsourcing partner that makes the employer forget about outsourcing altogether.

- Foreigners’ lack of knowledge

Let’s imagine you’re carrying out a building project in Ontario, Canada, and you are pondering outsourcing a part of your structure design to an architecture outsourcing company overseas where they don’t particularly have too many trees and so not a lot of lumber around for sure.

Your outsourcing partner probably wouldn’t have too much experience designing in such fashion and that would mean more time, likely having faulty final results, and missing deadlines for the revisions that follow.

The inadvertent lack of knowledge by outsourcing partners that are unfamiliar with domestic ways in design and building has been cited as another reason for companies to avoid outsourcing, decades into its initial boom.

- Only medium steps of a project can be outsourced

The whole purpose of architectural outsourcing would be erased if the outcome of a trusted outsourcing partner had to be over-checked and repeatedly handed back and forth for revisions.

So the parts of a project that are too subjectively reliant on your firm’s specific touch and style, cannot be trusted with a third-party company. Usually, the final presented results to your client, fall into this category and therefore, only routine stages of an architectural or a business process outsourcing project can be handled by an outsourcing partner; not the final part you’re pretty much occupied with, during the charrette!

Conclusion

Outsourcing is not the solution for every overwhelming project at your architecture firm. It might not even be the right prescription for any given bout through your pipeline of projects you have at hand. But given the specific circumstance and shortage of resources, it might be your best chance to get a hang of your objective just the way you want it to be.

It cuts the costs through less staff and office space, cheaper software and hardware run and support, competitive fees overseas, and more productive revision-proof handling of your project. Although, inefficient communication, lack of knowledge through having different standards, and long-term dependency concerns might be the caveat to outsourcing after all.

Over to you! let’s pick your brain about this. What encourages or makes you paused about outsourcing parts of your architectural project?

Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Mitchel Sardy
Author: Mitchel Sardy
I am a Computer Engineer and an architecture enthusiast, graduated on both majors up to the master's degree from the University of Washington; I'm an advisor to early-stage architecture startups all around the globe; the ones using computer-based solutions to design in architecture.


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