Archive for the 'Systems' Category

Michael Gallin: Entrepreneur Architect

While at Carnegie Melon University’s school of architecture in the early 90’s, Michael Gallin developed a passion for finding innovative solutions combining design and technology. Although his primary interest has always been architecture, computer technology has been a close second.

Gallin founded his architecture firm just north of New York City in 1999. He recently merged his practice with another firm, forming Gallin Beeler Design Studio. The current office, with a staff of nine, has a reputation for exceptional design quality and is a frequent recipient of regional design awards, including 11 AIA awards in the last ten years.

Frustration is often a catalyst for innovation. In 2009, Michael’s frustration over how his office was managing information brought his passions for architecture and technology together.

A client requested a paint color used on a past project. After spending hours sifting through archived drawings and construction submissions, Gallin concluded that there had to be a better way. He thought that his firm’s project information and specifications should be stored in a single searchable database. The database should be instantly available for reference from one project to the next and users should be able to refine the information over time. In a controlled and managed way, clients, consultants and contractors, should all be able to access and contribute to the database during and after the project is completed.

This simple idea, to put all project information into a single accessible database, has revolutionized how Michael’s practice runs.

Initially, Michael created the database using a software called Filemaker. After refining the user interface and optimizing the database structure to be flexible and intuitive, he moved the database and user interface online. The resulting website is available to everyone at

According to Gallin, “We can now find what we specified, as well as what was actually installed on a project, in a matter of seconds. This information is available for refinement and reuse on our upcoming projects. Time consuming tasks such as producing finish and hardware schedules, managing submissions, disseminating bidding information, and managing construction contracts have all become dramatically more efficient. We have tried many ‘time saving’ and ‘quality improving’ products and nothing has had the dramatic impact that ADOSAR has in improving project quality and efficiency. The key difference is that ADOSAR is simple. Its always available online and doesn’t try to do everything. It focuses only on the information that is ideally suited for database storage while leaving the drawings and models to other better suited tools.”

The more people use ADOSAR, the better it gets. The database grows and is refined continuously.

Problem: Inefficient recovery of information from past and current projects.

Solution: Michael Gallin’s

Michael Gallin is an Entrepreneur Architect.


Anyone interested in helping to test and improve on the “ADOSAR” concept should reach out to Michael via email. Free access to premium features is available to users willing to help refine Adosar by providing constructive feedback.


How Do You Organize Your Week?

So today is Monday. I typically reserve Mondays for administrative work and prepping for the rest of the week. I work on business systems and schedule project interviews on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday is a day to wrap up loose ends and make sure clients are happy.

Obviously, in order to be successful my routine is flexible. In fact I have a project interview this evening… on a Monday.

By keeping my tasks for each day consistent, it allows me to stay focused on what I am trying to accomplish,,, and that keeps my stress levels down (see previous discussion post).

How do you organize your week?

Let’s talk.

How do you measure your success?

There’s a saying in business, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Winning companies track several metrics to gauge their performance and measure business success. ROI (return on investment), EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), average sales, website traffic, employee churn and average inventory are all key business indicators. Large retailers track same store sales, days of supply and stock to sales ratio. Public companies are required to publish quarterly results and business metrics are the tools they use to communicate the health of their business to regulators and investors.

Much like how an experienced pilot continuously views her instruments to better understand how and where her aircraft is operating, successful companies track their performance to better understand how and where to focus their attention.

Do you know how successful you are? Do you know where you need to focus your attention to improve your results? Do you track metrics?

In addition to some of the standard metrics listed above, as an Entrepreneur Architect, a few metrics you may also want to track are; the number of overall projects per year, average project budget amounts, proposals to projects ratio, time from proposal to project start, and time from project commencement to construction start.

Track whatever you think will improve your results. Review your metrics on a regular basis and view your business from 20,000 feet. You may be surprised with the results.

Do you track your performance? What metrics are YOU using?

How do you measure YOUR success?

Architects Can Learn Much from Other Industries

What can we learn from other industries to make the traditional architectural and construction processes better?

Hospitals are filled with checklists and other systems to make sure that every step of a procedure is done correctly. NASCAR racing teams also use checklists and directives from multiple layers of team members, each with their own specialty. Toyota uses their Product Development System, also known as Lean Manufacturing, to make every subsequent product better than the last.

At Fivecat Studio, we are developing a Project Manual, filled with checklists, that will make every design process more efficient and will assure that every project is well built.

What are you doing to be more efficient? What systems are you implementing to be sure your clients are happy? Are you learning from other industries?

Please share…

How You Do It

“The magic, and the way in which you win the hearts and minds of your clients, is how you do it.” That’s what John over at Duct Tape Marketing posts today.

Clients see us as all the same. One architect is just like another. We are all expected to be wonderfully talented designers. We are expected to know the codes and technical details required to construct safe and healthy buildings. In the eyes of our clients, we are all the same…unless we do something to stand out from the crowd.

That something is “how we do it”.

My firm does it differently than the rest. One example is our pre-design process. Before we design, before we sketch our first line, we perform a process of information gathering that involves a questionnaire, photo collecting and a collaborative programming meeting.

Sounds just like what you do, right?

But it’s not.

We’ve developed a process that’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s interesting. It’s an “experience”. Our clients have a great time. They feel invested in the project and we obtain all the information we need to design a great house.

Then, as a bonus, our clients tell their friends about the fun they had. A fun construction project is unexpected; something that makes Fivecat Studio stand out from the crowd – like a Purple Cow.

How do you do it differently? Share your thoughts and ideas by clicking the “comments” link above this post.

The Pain Level Chart

A trip to Northern Westchester Hospital Center today (everyone is fine now, thanks – a story for another day) got me thinking about systems and how important they are to a successful business. Whether that business is helping patients feel more comfortable or designing a home for a young family, properly designed systems can ensure a consistent, predictable result…every time.

In the hospital, everything is located in its proper place. Every piece of equipment is labeled with maintenance information, an inspection date and the initials of the individual responsible for the work. Each drawer is labeled with its contents and the exact location of each item.

Every employee knew exactly what to do and when. The registration process, the fresh naturally lit room, the nurses’ uniforms, the printed “pain level chart”, even paying for parking ; it was all planned and choreographed. From our very first point of contact, until we walked through the automatic exit door, the experience was smooth and comforting, just like a hospital should be…and it was all done by using systems.

How can systems be put in place to make your firm run more smoothly?

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