An Inside Look at the New IDP: Practice Management

On June 29, the Intern Development Program (IDP) will be updated to reflect six broad areas of architectural practice. To help you prepare for this change, we’re launching a monthly blog series that breaks down the tasks associated with each area. Plus, we offer real-world examples of opportunities that count toward the IDP. First up: Practice Management.

What is Practice Management?

Practice Management is where aspiring architects will gain competency in running an architecture firm. This is your chance to learn the ins and outs of managing a business—marketing the firm’s capabilities, securing new projects, working with clients, and sustaining a positive and professional culture, for example.

Practice Management Tasks (Required Hours: 160)

Upon finishing the IDP, you should be able to competently perform the following tasks:

  • Adhere to ethical standards and codes of professional conduct
  • Develop professional and leadership skills within firm
  • Comply with laws and regulations governing the practice of architecture
  • Prepare proposals for services in response to client requirements
  • Prepare final procurement and contract documents
  • Participate in community activities that may provide opportunities or design of facilities that reflect community needs
  • Understand implications of project delivery technologies
  • Develop procedures for responding to contractor requests (Requests for Information)
  • Participate in professional development activities that offer exchanges with other design professionals
  • Prepare marketing documents that accurately communicate firm's experience and capabilities
  • Understand implications of policies and procedures to ensure supervision of design work by architect in responsible charge/control
  • Establish procedures for documenting project decisions
  • Maintain positive work environment within firm that facilitates cooperation, teamwork, and staff morale
  • Develop procedures for responding to changes in project scope
  • Develop and maintain effective and productive relationships with clients
  • Establish procedures to process documentation during contract administration

Are you having trouble gaining Practice Management experience? Reference the above tasks when meeting with your supervisor, and make a plan to complete the IDP.

Real-World Examples

During my first internship, I had the opportunity to develop some promotional materials that showcased the firm’s projects. The flyers were given to potential clients and were also featured in a local magazine! This type of experience would fall under the task, “prepare marketing documents that accurately communicate firm's experience and capabilities.” Do you help manage your firm’s website or social media accounts? You might be able to earn a few hours in Practice Management.

Some of the tasks in this area can be tough to tackle early in your career—for instance, you might not “develop procedures for responding to changes in project scope” at your first job. That’s why it’s important to have regular conversations with your supervisor to ensure you’re exposed to a variety of tasks. Sometimes, you just might have to get creative. To “understand [the] implications of project delivery technologies,” you could outline the firm’s project delivery methods, and set up a meeting with your supervisor to learn why the firm chose each of the methods.

IDP Experience Calculator

Use the IDP Experience Calculator to see how your current hours will merge into the six new experience areas! Any hours that fall outside of the six new areas can be used to fulfill additional jurisdictional requirements.

About the Author

Martin Smith has 10 years of architectural design and construction management experience. He has worked for architectural firms in New York City and New Canaan, CT. His projects varied from single and multi-family residential projects to commercial and university buildings, with an expertise in adaptive re-use and historic preservation projects. Smith holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Syracuse University. He is licensed to practice architecture in the state of New York and holds the NCARB Certificate for national reciprocity.