Understanding the ARE 5.0 Divisions: Practice Management vs. Project Management

Last month, we launched a new blog series to help you prepare for the late 2016 launch of ARE 5.0. In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at two of the new divisions: Practice Management and Project Management.

Practice Management

Practice Management is all about how an architect should manage a firm. Expect to see content about:

  • Different types of business structures
  • The laws, regulations, and ethics surrounding architectural practice
  • Financial issues and responsibilities
  • Other aspects of a firm that must be in place before a client contract is signed

The ARE is designed to test a candidate’s ability to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. What does running a practice have to do with any of this? Quite a bit, actually.

According to NCARB’s 2012 Practice Analysis of Architecture [PDF], an understanding of the laws and regulations governing the practice of architecture, along with the ethical standards and codes of professional conduct, are vital for recently licensed architects.

Ignoring these areas can lead to many problems within a firm. For instance, imagine an architect who spends so much time balancing the books, he doesn’t have time to review drawings. Or an architect who doesn’t bill clients on time, so she doesn’t have funds to pay her staff and consultants. Or an architect who is thrilled to accept a commission in a neighboring state, but doesn’t know to apply for a reciprocal license. These are all issues that effective practice management can prevent.

Think about Practice Management as the division that assesses a candidate’s ability to manage an architectural firm—everything related to ethically and effectively running a business and securing work.

Project Management

Project Management, on the other hand, is all about how an architect should manage a project. Content here will focus on:

  • Establishing and delivering on contract requirements
  • The development and coordination of project teams, both internal and external
  • Client, fee, schedule, and overall risk management
  • Effective communication and quality control throughout the project

It’s important to keep in mind that Project Management touches on all phases of a project—in essence, arcing over the remaining four divisions of ARE 5.0. Effective project management includes establishing processes and protocols to ensure architects maintain an acceptable standard of care throughout the entire project. While the other divisions are concerned with the specific tasks and skills needed to plan, design, detail, and construct a project, this division is focused on the operational aspects of running a project: schedule, budget, coordination, and team management.

The “line” between Practice Management and Project Management is the point at which a contract is signed and a project begins. Project Management will cover the execution of all contracts, including Owner-Architect agreements, Architect-Consultant agreements, Owner-Consultant agreements, and others.

Curious about the rest of ARE 5.0’s divisions? Stay tuned for our next post, as we compare Project Planning & Design to Project Development & Documentation. Plus, here’s a sneak peek of ARE 5.0’s new item types.