They often develop stipulations that the servicing firm will not engage in other large contracts while working on their project. Buyers face uncertainty in all types of buying situations, such as when buying a new car, home, or a computer system. However, the uncertainty is very high when buying professional services, and when contracting design and programming in particular. Buyers of professional services have the common problem of evaluating the characteristics of an offer prior to the purchase and use of the service.
In programming, and to a large extent, design, buyers often have difficulties evaluating the service even after its purchase and use. The intangibility of services like programming and design makes it hard for clients to differentiate between competing proposals. Clients usually do not differentiate by methodology or by content of information. Often, a lack of programming education and experience makes it difficult for the clients to perceive important differences between the proposals of competing providers—differences that may include unique offerings or superior characteristics.
The intangibility of the programming services reduces the perceived variation in quality and blurs the grading levels. In most cases, clients receive indications of a poor facility program only after the building is constructed. In such cases, the indicators are typically user complaints. However, at that time it is too late; programmers and designers trade the blame, and nobody perceives or mentions whether the program is done really well. Every service presupposes uncertainty and risk because no one can predict the result and its quality until the moment the service is delivered.
In the case of programming, this uncertainty is even larger, because clients do not have clear criteria for assessing a program. In addition, the evaluation of the program might be as labor-consuming as the preparation of the program itself. There is also an uncertainty in respect to the time schedule and regarding whether or not the provider will meet the deadline. Clients can partially reduce the uncertainty by knowing what criteria to use in evaluating offers for design and programming, as well as how to manage the service providers productively.
Client education and experience plays a crucial role in this process. It is the intangibility that creates the uncertainty and risk when contracting a service, particularly within the fields of programming and design. The failure of the program provider is perceived as a failure of the facility development officer who had selected the providing firm. In case of failure, the provider's reputation may suffer irreversibly, as one of the facility development officers suggested Stagg Utilities , but the facility development officers might significantly lower their status within the organization and may eventually lose their job.
This way of thinking leads to the notions of risk and accountability as a major explanatory pattern for clients' behavior. The theme of accountability rarely appears directly, but it is implicit in the organization of the facility development process. It emerges out of the analysis of the facility development structure of the organizations, which happens to be quite complex.
This structure consists of supervising and executive committees, project officers, and task forces. The division of responsibilities and power presupposes a complex loop of communication running from top to bottom and back again. The functioning of the organization is based on the notion of delegation and its constituent categories: responsibility, power, and accountability.
The behavior of the facility development agents will be construed in the context of the phenomenon of delegation and, in particular, with respect to accountability. Facility development officers operate in a real business organization, a corporation. Understanding the functioning of this organization is essential for understanding the behavior of individual agents regarding facility development. For this purpose, three basic organizational subsystems will be considered: decision-making, control, and individual motivation.
Organizational decision-making is a managed problem-solving process with many people involved. To ensure that the job will be done, the workload is usually segmented into portions and assigned to many people. The delegation of tasks and duties enables an organization to accomplish efficient decision-making. Delegation is also needed because the variety of problems in an organization is enormous, and therefore it is necessary to assemble staff with diverse expertise.
Such an approach also allows for specialization and better performance. In this regard, it is important to look at delegation in relation to categories like authority, responsibility, and accountability. Authority is the power to make decisions. Responsibility is the obligation that is created when an employee accepts authority. Accountability relates to the system of control. Responsibility, authority, and accountability will be used as major concepts in interpreting the behavior of the facility development officers.
The principles of human behavior regarding accountability and control highlight the reasoning of the decision-makers in the facility development process. When people have the responsibility to do something, it is necessary to periodically evaluate performance and to determine whether agents have successfully discharged their responsibilities. By enforcing accountability, the organization is able to control the behavior of its members. Accountability also presupposes that employees will be judged by the extent to which they have fulfilled their responsibilities.
The knowledge that accountability is forthcoming makes agents consider the implications of their performance in terms of possible sanctions and rewards. The prospect of rewards and penalties becomes a potent force that shapes the motivation of the facility development agents as human beings in organizational environment. In the most general and fundamental sense, what the corporate clients see when buying a professional service is uncertainty and risk. The feeling of uncertainty is not necessarily articulated by many clients, but it is there. Uncertainty with service outcome implies risk of failure, and failure has negative implications for one's professional standing.
Client behavior reveals the urgency of accountability for service providers; clearly, attaining clear means of accountability is a major objective of client officers who are in charge of facility development projects. Clients are usually aware of and expect several major threats; among these are hiring the wrong consultant, breach of deadlines, and low quality.
A major threat is the risk of hiring the wrong consultants. If the consultants have not acquired adequate expertise for the project, they can deliver programming documents of poor quality. The program requirements will be useless or confusing, client money will be spent in vain, and valuable time will be lost in an abortive attempt. Another major threat is lack of schedule discipline and missed deadlines. In a tight facility development schedule, missing the deadlines may compromise coordination between different agents and cause major disorganization within the whole project.
The pitfalls associated with quality usually appear when different participating specialists pass products to the next-in-line specialty. Some of the collaborating parties in this process complain about the quality of products they were given and the difficulties they encounter because of working with faulty information.
For example, designers usually complain that the design program delivers conflicting information. Sporadic inconsistency and contradictions of programmatic requirements and project restrictions compromise both the credibility of the program as a document and the professionalism of the facility development officer who has contracted a poor provider.
Designers' dissatisfaction and complaints regarding the program may provoke an inquiry into the quality of the program, and hence the programming service. This will lead to an inquiry into the procedures and decisions made for selecting and hiring the program providers.
Such a situation can spur a major assessment of the performance of the facility development officers and bring about disciplinary actions against them. Many of the interviewees, both facility officers and program providers, shared information in this spirit. In brief, a problem with the design program may compromise the credibility and standing of the facility development decision-makers, and this could be detrimental to their careers.
The risks ensuing from the intangibility of the programming and design services present the major threat for the facility officers. Clients concentrate on avoiding the risk and construct their strategies with regard to this objective. They rely upon two major principles to reduce uncertainty and risk. The first principle can be conceptualized as reputation. This principle means that a facility development officer should hire a provider with excellent reputation—that is, a provider who will be unanimously accepted as the best possible choice in case an inquiry into the selection process is launched.
The second principle is strong control over the process. Client officers may try to cope with the risk by exercising as much control over the process as possible. They may employ the same means of control by which they are controlled themselves: responsibility and accountability. They may try to transfer to providers the responsibility for quality, and they may also try to create a clear chain of accountability.
In the process of facility development, hundreds of important decisions are made by different agents, at different levels in the corporate hierarchy, in different firms both the client and provider firm , and in different phases of the project. Many times, it is unclear who actually made the decision and who, therefore, has to assume responsibilities for failures and losses. This happens most often when decisions are made across corporate and departmental lines or when two or more organizations and departments participate in the decision-making process.
In addition, it might be unclear who actually has to assume the responsibility when authority for decision-making is given to several providers, either intentionally or unintentionally. Participating parties may be of several types: feasibility study providers, master planners, programmers, or designers. Each party works on the basis of decisions made by another party or in a previous phase. However, providers may also introduce a strong personal bias when they perform the work that must occur at their stage.
In addition, several types of specialists render advice on different matters, and they may require modifications in the decisions made by their colleagues. Once a decision is modified, its original authors may see the changes as violations of their vision, as well as a compromise to their overall plan. The original party may decline to take responsibility for the modified decision on the grounds that it violates basic premises of the program. In this regard, in a design process that involves several providers, coordination and the distribution of responsibility is controlled by different contracts.
The control can be exercised only at the time of product review and evaluation. This organization of the facility development tasks can fragment the process, causing it to become prone to inconsistencies. The solution to the problem that facility development officers have found is simple: they try to avoid hiring several independent providers to work cooperatively on the same job. Rather, they try to hire one general provider who can pledge responsibility and accountability for as large a portion of the contracted services as possible. Following this logic, clients try to assign the package with preconstruction services to one provider.
Usually, this includes the master plan, the program, and the design.
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However, in some cases when marketing research is needed, the configuration becomes a bit different. In such situations, marketing research, feasibility study, and a basic design program are assigned to one provider; programming and design are packaged together and assigned to an architectural firm or even to a design-building firm that will also provide construction services. In this way, clients communicate with one firm only and, therefore, can maintain a tight grip on that firm, holding it responsible for any potential problem. By doing so, clients are able to minimize the risk of failure and to make their work and life easier, which is also a strong motivation for public or corporate employees.
The social forces and behaviors presented previously in this paper are conceptualizations at the macro level. In this part of the paper, a complementary perspective is developed in order to account for more specific levels of facility development officers' professional behavior. This perspective, one which is universally familiar to the officers, involves a service-buying metaphor that dovetails with the notion of hiring.
The concept of hiring is used to provide a framework for understanding the events happening on the meeting ground of clients and providers. Two levels of decision-making are clearly identified as a result of the coding and interpretation work: strategy the broad picture or plan and tactics the implementation. The first level, strategy, is viewed in terms of hiring policy.
The problems of clients are interpreted with the help of the categories "job description" and "job specification. The second level, tactics, is conceptualized as the process of selection of the particular provider. Its core is formed by the selection criteria: experience, references, personnel, and expediency. Taken together, the job specification and the selection criteria that clients formulate provide the cues about their needs, demands, and influences on the market.
The fact that services are intangible and, therefore, difficult to differentiate by quality has already been discussed. Likewise, the performance of the service provider might vary in terms of quality. Therefore, services are difficult to evaluate before buying. In such situations, clients have a hard time avoiding the risk of failure.
The only solution is to hire the best professional provider available. A good professional presupposes good performance, a good job, less risk, and less uncertainty. Clients realize that if it is not possible to evaluate the service beforehand, then the alternative is to evaluate the service provider. If the person or the firm has satisfactory qualities, these characteristics may become good predictors for the actual performance.
This is quite similar to hiring a professional, and in fact, it is a form of hiring. The difference is that the relations between the client and the professional are not administrative and managerial, but legal. Responsibilities, due dates, and compensation are defined and legally codified. For contracted service providers, the chain of command is replaced by the contract obligations. In this regard, buying a service is similar to hiring.
The principles that apply when hiring a person also apply to purchasing a service. Clients can apply their personnel hiring expertise to the process of finding the best provider. Buying services is not dissimilar from "buying" professionals; in both instances, clients rely on resumes, references, history, expertise, and so on. The risks of hiring professionals who are either unsuitable for a job or cannot perform to the level indicated by their credentials is the same in both contracting for services and hiring of employee. Employers have developed very sophisticated procedures for hiring.
There are three distinct groups of procedures that need to be performed in order to hire successfully: job analysis, recruitment, and selection. Most clients follow all of these procedures diligently and within the possibilities of the particular case.
The first phase of hiring is to understand the components of the job. An elaborate job analysis leads to a thorough understanding of the nature and requirements of the job. When a person is hired, both management and employee must have a clear understanding of the job to be performed. The second phase of hiring is recruiting a pool of people that can be considered for possible contracting. The third phase is the actual selection of a service provider. Job analysis includes job description and job specification.
Job description is based on the understanding of tasks, duties, and responsibilities required in a job. Job specification involves the identification of skills, knowledge, and abilities that someone needs to perform the job adequately. These notions can become a methodological instrument for understanding how clients conceptualize the steps in contracting a service provider. The job description is the basis of the whole process of staffing. It supplies thorough information concerning the scope of problems that the employee has to solve.
The job description identifies the tasks, duties, and responsibilities of a job. Performance standards should follow directly from a job description, informing a potential employee what the job must accomplish and what level of performance is considered satisfactory in each area of the job description. The reason is clear: if employees know what is expected and what constitutes good or poor performance, they have a much better chance to perform satisfactorily.
The concept of job description provides a tool for understanding client conceptualization of the buying situation. With regard to buying services, the job description is transformed into the notion of conceptualizing the major issues to be addressed. Sophisticated clients are quite aware of the different pre-design tasks and phases. They know what they need and what to ask for. Facility development officers often see several issues simultaneously, but they also differentiate among them in terms of importance and interdependence. The officers hold particular perceptions about the nature, complexity, and importance of the issues.
Clients perceive two major types of thematic areas in programming. The first one centers on the work processes that will be supported by the building. The second area has to do with translating this information into spatial requirements and solutions. These two thematic areas form the basics of the "job" description that will provide the grounds for compiling the "job" specifications.
Experienced clients conceptualize the purpose of the building in terms of providing support for work processes. Advanced clients perceive the organization and description of work operations as a major task in planning a building. The client corporation or agency may use the occasion of developing a new building to engage in operations improvement and the ensuing spatial implications.
Clients think in terms of business functions, operations, necessary conditions, efficiency, and other business-related issues. Most clients choose to discuss their operations with specific terminology, in professional jargon. When they have to select architects or consultants, clients are strongly interested in the ability of the service providers to understand how they talk about their organization and how it actually works.
This is the way of thinking displayed by clients who have to respond to strong market forces, who perceive their operations as unique and complex, and who strive to adopt the latest innovations in the industry, to become technological leaders, and to foster the reputation of a cutting-edge company. Such cases can be observed in all building types, but most often, they occur in the domain of health care facilities.
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However, since the influx of new office work practices, it is not unusual to find such clients in the domain of office buildings. In the area of assisted living, nowadays even small operators wish to adopt the latest trends in servicing and methods of care, while also accommodating changes in the legal environment. Another class of problems that clients encounter is the "translation" of work operations into spaces. The spatial implications of operations, as well as the impact of spatial decisions on the operations, can be a major problem for clients.
It is not uncommon for good management consulting professionals to make drastic mistakes when they estimate the square footage of the premises. The future building users who participate in various program committees and supply information to programmers might be great experts in their own field, but they often have major problems envisaging spaces and dimensions.
People without experience in facility planning and design usually do not take into consideration the area needed for walls, horizontal and vertical communications of all types, or a number of support spaces. Altogether, these considerations may account for 30 to 40 percent of the area of the building. Client facility development officers with adequate design education know well how important it is that programmers are able to envisage the spatial implications of work processes. Programmers should be able to estimate closely the required square footage for particular work processes and user activities; to predict how a particular spatial pattern will perform; and what its advantages and disadvantages will be.
Capital Architects said that clients usually desire that programmers take responsibility for such decisions in case programmers are hired before the architects. Clients tend to expect that program provider will consider the spatial implications for them. They want to learn from programmers as well as from architects about the functional advantages and disadvantages of different spatial options.
Imagine the number of phases, providers, and contractors in the building delivery process and it will become clear that the management of the project and its quality control is a major problem for the facility development officers. Emerging risks of failure with project management make all clients aware of the difficulties involved in contracting and coordinating the work of several professional firms.
These complicated relations present a threat to such goals as quality of the intermediate products, respect for due dates, successful building procurement, and many other considerations. Facility development officers have to consider a number of potential problems, conflicts, and critical issues that influence the quality of the whole building rather than just the program. It is very important for clients to be aware of these threats in order to develop and apply a methodology for dealing with them.
The resistance of the architects. When several providers work on a project, it is quite common that each one will blame the others for the shortcomings in the solutions. It is very easy for designers to explain building malfunctioning as resulting from mistakes in the program. Programming is like diagnosing. What one doctor will state, another may reject. Architects always seem to find mistakes, express different opinions, and practically reject the program Prairie Insurance and Stagg Utilities. At the same time, programmers often claim that designers have interpreted the program incorrectly.
Programming clients are quite sensitive to possible complains by designers who often display dissatisfaction with facility programs prepared by another firm. The interpenetration and overlap of different phases. Design is a process that deals with ill-defined problems.
The definition of the problem is evolving in the process of solving it. New and different knowledge may be required to assist with the modification of the problem formulation. Continuous information assistance is needed, as opposed to a service relationship that ends with the delivery of the program. A long-standing relationship may be very useful because a program rarely contains all information needed for reformulating the problem and designing a new solution. There is also a lot of information that cannot reasonably be expected to be presented in the program either because of volume constraints or because the nature of tacit knowledge.
The critical nature of design and construction knowledge. The conceptualization of success in the building delivery process is a very complex phenomenon. It is influenced by the interplay of a number of factors and requirements like procuring good-quality construction and delivering the building on budget and on time, as well as providing optimal support for client business operations.
In many cases concerns with meeting the budget, the deadlines, and an optimum construction quality overshadow the importance of accommodating user needs and functional requirements. The program provider has to consider and manage problems with budget, site, and limitations of existing buildings, as well as the consequences of employing different materials and structural systems. In this regard, design education and technical competencies are very important for preparing a good and feasible design program.
The way client officers envision these major issues and the way they assign priority to them help to shape client conceptualization of the knowledge, abilities, and skills needed to solve the problems. In this way, clients construe the "image" of the provider who will best solve these problems.
Job description serves as a basis for the development of an inventory of qualifications that comprise the job specifications—a system of knowledge, skills, and competencies that provider firms must demonstrate in order to successfully perform the job. Factors within these groups include education, experience, work skills, personality traits, organizational and management requirements, and workforce availability. Job specifications tentatively outline the professional areas from which providers should be recruited.
The difference between the job specifications and the selection criteria is that the specifications indicate in broad terms what kind of professionals are most relevant to the project, while the selection criteria are more specific. The criteria are applied to the pool of applicants with the purpose of helping to assess who is best prepared to do the job.
The job specification and the selection criteria are commensurate with two successive stages: first, defining the problem for finding the type of provider, and second, selecting a specific person or firm. The job specification is construed, in this study, in the light of the three major qualifications that clients usually look for when they search for providers: expertise in operations, design experience, and continuity.
Donna Duerk - Architecture - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Requirements of these types are noticed very often when analyzing both corporate staffing practices and the programming clients' behaviors. These categories usually emerge as a natural outgrowth of the problems that clients envisage. Clients need program providers who can quickly understand the system of activities and the technological infrastructure. The program providers should be versed and competent in the client's type of industry so that they can understand the nature and functioning of the client operations.
The providers should be able to communicate with ease with the workers and operation managers in order to collect information necessary for design. Clients explicitly require that program providers command a high level of expertise in organizational design and operations improvement. At Request For Proposal RFP interviews, clients are very persistent in asking applicants what solutions they might propose for the major operational problems. These interviews are almost like an exam in the operations of the client organization. Most of the conversations are about organizational structure, workflow, and operations, as well as how the applicants view the alternatives.
For example, AD Architects said that the program is about how a business works; Capital Architects and Olsen Architects said programmers need to understand client operations, or how the clients work. Blue County's RFP competition was like a quiz in catering and food service. Many architectural firms hire operations consultants, usually from planning firms, or they make partnerships with them to participate in an RFP presentation. Planning firms are staffed with former administrators and operation managers and bring their expertise into the facility development process.
This phenomenon is most obvious in hospital facility development. Health care planning firms routinely hire former administrators, physicians, and nurses in order to provide a wide range of facility planning services. Design competency is a major quality widely sought because it brings syncretic solutions to all problems of the clients. Clients perceive several additional qualities of providers as very important: expertise about prototypical solutions in the field of the building type; expertise in relating operations to space; expertise in technical matters, prices, materials, appliances, construction products, and interior inventory; expertise in combining all these aspects of the project so that a feasible and functional solution is reached, and last but not least, expertise in project management.
There is a vast array of problems that require expertise in technical matters, such as costing, materials, construction products, furniture, and equipment, as well as experience in coordinating all of these aspects so that a feasible and functional solution can be reached. This is an area wherein clients feel a deficit of knowledge. They would like someone to step in and help them. Experience in planning and designing in the area of a particular building type brings a complex set of expertise. Such expertise is acquired through site visits, formal and informal post-occupancy evaluations, planning and design, and extensive research in the building type literature.
Clients believe that experienced providers can guarantee better quality of service. Facility development officers may even use experience and erudition as performance indicators instead of inquiring about the provider's methodology. Capital Architects said that clients want expertise, not novices that will learn the trade on their project. Capital Architects and Uptown Consultants believe that experienced providers can shortcut trivial matters and invest more time on important issues. In this way, they increase project quality, save billing time, and allocate more time to elaborate special details that otherwise may be overlooked.
Experience also enhances the project management aspect of program delivery. Experienced providers know well how to schedule projects, where to press, how to insist, and how to organize and manage their own staff and hired consultants. Such programmers can be more trustworthy regarding delivering the project with high quality and on time. This kind of reasoning strongly affects clients' choices and creates demand for experience.
A major management problem that clients conceptualize is how to control performance quality of different providers—in other words, how to keep them accountable and responsible for the services they deliver. Clients are vulnerable to providers that blame each other for building failures. The solution that clients see is bringing continuity to the process. Continuity fosters higher overall project quality even when in some phases there is mediocre performance or even glitches.
Clients have learned that the easiest way to control providers is to hold only one firm responsible for the work of all professionals. Charging only one party with responsibility for the whole process provides not only administrative leverage control , but also technological conditions for smooth interaction and transition between the phases and from one service provider to another.
The ability to provide continuity in the pre-design stage becomes a major qualification that the applicants for the job should possess. For most clients, the provision of continuity in the facility development process becomes more important than the search for a high-quality programming service.
Moreover, the performance evaluation of the facility development officer is based on the tangible phases of facility development such as construction and design, rather than the intangible activities such as programming. Even educated and experienced clients who understand the limitations of architects as facility programmers may hire them to develop the program.
The reason is that the disputes between program providers and designers who constantly blame each other for project failures force clients to retain the same service provider for both programming and design. Facility development officers evidently prefer that architects manage the whole "intellectual" part of the facility development process and consequently take full responsibility for the outcomes.
Service provider selection can be conceptualized as a process of matching up a job with a professional. The success of the programming project depends on how well providers match the nature of clients' problems. The analysis and definition of the job is the initial step in developing the tools that enable the recruiter to make the best possible match between the job they have, the focus of the recruitment process, and the selection of the applicants.
Stated in a more specific way, job analysis provides information about client needs and preferences regarding to service providers. The selection policy of the clients is based on two major premises. The first one may be conceptualized as predicting performance on the basis of provider declared potential. The second one is based on the assumption that the history of performance is a good indicator for future performance. These premises lead to the formulation of the selection criteria. Experience: the wisdom of trial and error.
The major group of selection criteria refers to the record of qualifications acquired through professional experience. The applicants are evaluated and scores are assigned to expertise, erudition, and specialization. One of the questions most frequently asked is about past projects that are similar to the client's job both in type and in size.
This procedure insures against the risk that the provider may experiment for the first time with the client's project. If the provider has an excellent record of experience, and nevertheless fails, the facility programming officers can claim that at least they selected the best possible candidate. This consideration is strongly influenced by the risk-avoidance imperative.
This consideration is in line with the traditions of domains like professional services buying and personnel hiring where it is accepted as the basis for applicant evaluation. Its procedural incarnation is the resume. Personnel potential: size, staff, and management methods of the provider. This group of criteria is both the most formal and the most holistic. The size of the firm and the list of specialists employed provide a general orientation regarding personnel potential. The size of the organization is a good indicator of its ability to allocate enough staff for the project.
A large organization can commandeer many people on a project and do it for a short time. Such organizations may easily cope with new projects and residual load of old projects. Some clients even inquire about the organizational structure and the management methods of the provider. These questions also stem from the logic of the risk-avoidance principle.
In this way, clients get a kind of guarantee about the ability of the provider to keep to the time schedule and to manage a uniform level of quality. At the same time, such information provides hints about the ability of the provider to control the process, as well as the possibility that the client may easily control the provider. References: are others clients satisfied? References from other clients are a general method for ensuring that the provider is capable of doing the job. This method is based on history of performance, history of relations, and evaluation of the provider by other clients.
Such a battery of insurance policies should satisfy even the most demanding supervisors. Careful attention to references can be viewed as the most viable method of avoiding risk. If a provider has performed well in ten other situations, even if they fail now, it will be considered a mere coincidence. The facility development officers will be saved from accusations about neglecting selection principles and procedures. Expediency: meeting the deadlines. The history of punctuality is used as a performance indicator and predictor. It is yet another instrument for avoiding risk.
In this way, clients can judge the risk of being left in the chaos of unfinished work, with angry subcontractors and prolonged building delivery time to contend with. In organizations that are very sensitive about moving into the new facility on time, this is a crucial criterion that can sometimes overshadow the rest of the qualifications of the provider. The preceding section of the paper presented the major patterns of thinking and decision-making of facility development officers.
The process of contracting a provider was disentangled and a number of components of professional awareness were identified, including considerations, problems, and needs, as well as professional methods techniques. The components and their format in particular highlight the mechanisms of reasoning as well as the major concerns and requirements that shape the logic of contracting behavior.
In turn, this thinking constitutes and shapes to a large extent the market for facility programming services. The section below will shed light on the market and will construe the existing marketing niches of facility programmers. For the purposes of this study, the demand side of the programming market can be described with several categories, organized in two groups. One group is about building-type specialization and experience; the second set of categories is about provider firm qualities.
The first group of categories that clients look for is building-type specialization.
Programming & Analysis
Specialization is perceived as a quality indicator, supported and corroborated by thousands of clients in their long career paths. Specialization is an indicator of experience, and experience indicates expertise. Expertise is believed to contribute to good performance.
Clients demand specialization by building type because such specialization provides the most holistic experience. It includes client business operations expertise, the ability to translate operations information into design requirements, design knowledge, and project management experience, as well as the ability to work quickly. In this way, specialization is viewed as the attribute that satisfies several needs at once.
This line of thinking models the logic of the clients when figuring out the way to achieve successful building delivery. Such logic prevails among the clients of every professional service, and facility development clients are not an exception. Clients learn that providers with broader experience regarding different situations in the field of one building type are more flexible and creative, and can better deal with complex and unusual problems. Client organizations strongly believe that operating at the level of the national market helps a design firm to build a broad vision and information about new trends in the building type, including information about new developments in operations management.
The "actors" in the national arena are considered much more advanced and sophisticated than the local performers. Service providers who receive a large number of commissions and who are highly respected by clients share some common attributes that, while connected with actual past performance, are generally accepted as good predictors for future behavior. These categories are reputation, staff, and schedule discipline.
The reputation of the provider firm is both a holistic attribute and a predictor that clients look for. A firm with a good reputation is considered more trustworthy and is expected to do a better job. In the event of failure, the low performance will be attributed to disastrous circumstances rather then to poor selection by the facility officers.
One reason that facility development officers rely on reputation is the way it is built and the way it is lost.
It takes years to create a favorable image and good reputation, but s single failure may ruin it all. Stagg Utilities said that in such cases, the word of mouth about poor performance spreads very quickly among peers and the unlucky provider can be ruined for life. Provider firm staff potential. Clients scrupulously look for all kinds of formal details before they hire a provider. They often go so far as to take into account such attributes as the number of qualified staff, their personal resumes, and their delegated power. This is one possible way to predict whether the provider will be able to complete the project on time without compromising the quality.
Large, well-staffed firms are more competitive than small ones. Another attribute that clients demand is a good record of schedule discipline—and especially, a record of finishing jobs on time. Time commitments are very important in the facility development industry. This is true for both the design and construction stages. Clients demand and pay for discipline. The fact that during interviews they assign a substantial score for a strong history of compliance with the project schedule shows the importance of this performance quality and the scale of the real demand for it.
The usual practice of facility development officers is to hire a large design firm that will sign a contract and take responsibility for the whole preconstruction process. Such firms usually have specialized staff that is organized in studios by building type. However, for large projects, and particularly when the clients demand expertise in operations, design firms might subcontract facility planners or management consultants to become more competitive at the Request for Proposal RFP stage.
By subcontracting, architectural firms manage a wide array of facility development situations—from very simple to very sophisticated. When the problem is complex and difficult, sub-contractors are invited. In many cases, the name of a nationally renowned consultant may highly enhance the potential of the design firm to compete for a project. In the last decade, design firms started developing the practice of signing contracts with program providers facility planning consultants if they do not keep specialists in a particular building type on staff.
These people conduct an inquiry in client operations and user needs, develop the design program, and lay out floor plans. Such cooperation enhances the credibility of the design firm. The architectural firm assumes all responsibility and works to build its own reputation. Practically speaking, it is very rare that professional programmers are hired to develop the program because architectural firms monopolize the market for programming and design. This trend may ultimately force programming firms out of business, although it is more correct to say that this precludes programmers from entering into that business.
According to one interviewed architect, only people who have some other means of financial support can afford to engage in programming. One example would be academics who perform research in this field, but who have their primary employment within a university.
This is indicative for the state of both the market and the real practices of the facility development clients. Clients have to develop environmental support for their operations—not the building. When we look at the big picture, it becomes clear that clients "buy" a building, not disparate services. In reality, the direct translation of this interpretation is the "design-build" service, wherein one contractor assumes all the obligations and benefits!
However, in most cases clients separate the planning and design services from the construction services. In this respect, clients engage in buying design services. However, clients rarely think in terms of a programming project. They have a more holistic approach—they think about a design project as the guide for construction.
Design is the core of the preconstruction project. Buying programming services transforms into buying design services. From this moment on, we enter the realm of the architectural design market and get involved with all issues associated with it. The social forces that make facility development officers search for architectural firms as program providers influence client behavior in the architectural market as well.
The considerations, strategies, policies, and standards are pretty much the same. However, by definition, the market of design services is a different area of study, no matter how close it is to this project. There is a lot of literature on the market of design services and on topics like how to select and retain design consultant, both from the standpoint of designers and clients.
In summary, this study shows that client facility development officers experience a lot of uncertainty and risk regarding service quality and timelines. Considering the systems of decision-making, control, and accountability in most organizations, the unpredictability of service providers' performance leads to tremendous pressure on facility development officers as social agents and human individuals in respect to keeping their professional status and position.
In response, they adopt risk-avoidance strategies and search for the most reliable providers. Clients demand from providers expertise in user operations, design experience, and evidence of process continuity. The major selection criteria include specialization, experience, reputation, and personnel potential, as well as evidence of discipline in time schedule. Clients usually commission their programming projects to architecture firms. The practice of commissioning facility programs to architecture firms, rather than to specialized programming and planning businesses, has important consequences for the programming market.
The marketplace is, practically speaking, monopolized by architectural firms by the virtue of the control they hold over the whole preconstruction process and the benefits they offer in this regard. This dominance of architectural firms takes place at the expense of professionals with exceptional expertise in business planning and organizational design. The planning firms, unfortunately, cannot guarantee the quality of the preconstruction phase as a whole and cannot establish themselves as a strong voice in the facility development process, mostly because their role is mediated by designers and their firms.
The ensuing implications of this situation for facility development as an industry, the impact on user needs and operations, as well as the influence on the progress of the field of facility programming will be a subject of another study. Our belief is that the market should be driven by the demand, rather than by the supply.
If the demand side cannot appreciate the importance of particular goals and overestimates other benefits, this should be construed as a social problem. The main issue is the society itself, exemplified through several sub-systems and institutions, has not arrived at a clear understanding of what are the advantages and disadvantages; what are the gains and the losses; as well as who gains and who loses in current practices. This project sets the foundations for a number of topics to be explored. However, there is one idea that deserves to be mentioned here.
However, this is another task and it will take exceptional dedication, mobilization of social resources, and a long time span. In this regard, in order to come up with more concrete ideas, it will be necessary to envisage several projects with the goal of finding feasible ways of procuring such developments. Until then, the advice to facility development officers is the following: commission your programs to architectural firms—even if the program document leads to building inadequacies, current organizational practices and patterns of thinking will protect your professional standing, livelihood, and the welfare of your families.
Working within the field of facility programming, I encountered conflicting information and experiences regarding the size of the programming market, the importance of programming that is perceived by the clients, and the clients' ability to appreciate and reward advanced programming methodologies. Residing mostly in academia, I was excited with the possibilities posed by programming and the belief that clients were ready for sophisticated programming services but were simply unable to find providers.
All interested University of Washington students are welcome to participate in this first two-year sequence. For more information or to speak to the undergraduate pre-major advisor please contact:. These include coursework in the visual, literary and performing arts, math, science, the social sciences, and other knowledge areas. The intent of these first two years is to have students build their skills in communication and critical thinking, gain broad exposure to other disciplines in order to make more informed academic and career decisions, and to provide the broad academic foundation essential to successful study in architecture.
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