It's been a long time coming, but we've finally made it to the beta release of Format Projects, an operations management platform that helps new and existing small businesses operate more efficiently. While we've been using a more paired down version of Format Projects in our architecture office for a few years, we recently decided to open it up to all types of project-based businesses in the design and construction industry.
While we're not quite ready for a full public launch, we're currently granting a limited number of small offices access to help us work out some of the kinks. If you're interested in getting involved or just want to check it out, shoot us your email and we'll reach out when we send out the next round of invites.
Wait, operations management?
Yes! There's a whole world of productivity and project management tools out there these days. Many of these platforms target day-to-day coordination that help to make running a business more efficient: task management, to-dos, team communications, scheduling, etc. These tools are incredibly important for making sure granular tasks are being addressed efficiently and team members are synced. However, they typically don't tell you much about your overall operations:
Will I be profitable this year?
How much should I pay myself?
Can I afford to hire someone?
What is my hourly rate?
How much should I charge for this service?
Zooming out to a more operational level, Format Projects provides tools to help you get a handle on the overall health of your new or existing small business. By tracking key budget, schedule, billing, and hours metrics for each of your projects, you can more confidently make decisions on hiring, billing rates, service fees, and project staffing.
As your operations mature and you complete more projects, Format Projects becomes an invaluable resource when writing proposals for potential new projects. No more guessing on typical construction budgets or project schedules. No more second guessing if your proposed fee will cover the amount of hours your team will need to complete a certain phase of your design process. While we can't promise it will eliminate all the stress of being an entrepreneur, we do think it will help to eliminate unknowns, which in our opinion is half the battle!
How does it work?
Format Projects provides a flexible framework for tracking your projects from proposal through design, construction, and close-out. Because it was built specifically for project-based businesses in the design and construction industry, it's set up around a set of concepts that most offices operating in the industry will already be familiar with: scope, services, budgets, schedules, etc. Once you have a few projects set up, it then becomes an invaluable tool to analyze and visualize your project data and office-wide revenue projections.
For architects by architects
Format Projects was born out of a need we had when we started our architecture firm back in 2016. After quitting our day jobs to start Format Architecture Office, we quickly noticed how much guesswork our operations relied on. Proposals? Let's throw this number at them and see if it sticks... Pay ourselves? Wait, what's in the account... Hourly rates? $100 /hour sounds respectable... Hiring? Yeah right... Will we be profitable? What does that even mean?!?
While we had a pretty good handle on the architecture side of things, a lot of what we were doing initially from a business perspective was through trial and error. It became increasingly clear that if we wanted to start making confident business decisions, we needed a way to track our project metrics in a consistent way that could easily be referenced and applied to future projects.
We began development on Format Projects alongside our architectural work, and over the years it has grown into a full-fledged operations management platform that has helped us take some of the guesswork out of running our business and given us the confidence to grow our business.
We're working hard on a full public release in the coming months, but while we're doing that, check back here for more articles on starting and maintaining a small business!