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Is Outsourcing the future of architecture?

Friday 8th April 2011

At the recent Future Leaders event hosted by the RIBA, delegates were given the opportunity to learn about the current thinking on practice repositioning in today’s' economic environment. JJ Loraine comments on outsourcing in architecture, and asks if the rest of the industry should compete or engage with the "excellent services at competitive prices" provided by outsource partners. Once seen as the 'dirty word', outsourcing is being discussed more openly as a viable project delivery solution, and JJ Loraine's speech reinforces the message that a quality outsource partners can add considerable value to projects in an ever more competitive industry. 

An extract of the speech is reproduced below, and a link to the full story can be found on the Future Leader's Programme web page here

"The profession has to find a way to link its remuneration to the value it delivers. The profession should not expect to have its hand held along the road, shepherded towards a place where the architect becomes a shareholder in the projects it delivers. We can’t just remain designers, we need to wrest control back from those who have taken the client’s ear. As Peter Nolan from Nolan Associates explained we have a choice everyday when we wake up, either do what we always did or do something different.

Perhaps the enormous potential of BIM will allow the profession to become ‘master builders’ again or perhaps we need to ditch traditional JCT contracts and standard forms of appointment to derive models that map a way for true partnering linking payment to the achievement of agreed targets. The emergence of the notion of concept architect and executive architecture further reinforces the markets reliance on enshrining excellent ideas at the outset of any project.  

As professionals we have to adapt, why try and compete with providers offering excellent services at competitive prices. Production information can be happening in Ho-Chi Minh City or Manila whilst we sleep in the West. AECOM send services layouts to China every night so client changes and mark-ups are always up to date, why shouldn’t we? Richard Saxon’s polemic on practice positioning suggested that our future lies in outsourcing."

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