Guide to the Use of the Forms
Purpose of the Forms
The forms in this section of the Handbook are templates provided to assist the architect in the overall business administration or management of the practice. Standardized forms within an architectural practice are an essential management tool. Most architects customize forms for their own operations. Forms provided for reference at the end of this chapter are examples of actual or suggested forms used by architectural practices in Canada.
Many offices, large and small, now invest in software programs or platforms that integrate some or all of their financial, operational and project information systems, enabling them to plan, monitor and control their firm’s human, financial and physical resources. Web-based, server-based, and stand-alone applications are available that are both scalable and affordable for any size of firm. This Handbook cannot capture all possible functionality and features of these software programs. The forms provided in this chapter reflect a basic level of information needed to understand fundamental aspects of practice.
All employees should be familiar with the forms adopted by the practice. The architect should include the forms in an office manual (see Chapter 3.5 – Office Administration). Directions for the use of the forms, particularly for time reports and expense claim forms, should be included in the office manual. One trend in practice management, increasingly possible with web-based platforms, is to integrate instructions for the use of forms and templates with the forms themselves, in addition to or in lieu of a separate office manual.
This section provides samples of some of the most basic forms used by most architectural practices, be they part of a practice management software system or individual forms. Certain practices may require other forms, including:
Forms for human resources management
- Job description
- Application for employment
- Interview evaluation form
- Letter of acknowledgement (for job application)
- Letter of regret (for unsuccessful job applicants)
Forms for financial management
- Statement of account (outstanding invoices less payments)
- Record of drawing reproductions
- Record of telephone calls (long distance and fax charges)
- Purchase order
Forms for marketing
- Letter of introduction (to prospective clients)
- Typical résumé (for proposals)
- Project data sheet (for proposals)
- Client contact data sheet (for marketing)
See Chapter 6.8 – Sample Forms for the Management of the Project, Forms for General Communications, for forms such as a memorandum or transmittal form.
1. Forms for Human Resources Management
See Appendix A – Employment Agreement at the end of this chapter.
1.1 Typical Job Description
- assist in recruiting staff and preparing advertisements;
- assist staff in understanding their responsibilities;
- clarify the organization of the practice and lines of reporting;
- assist in performance evaluation of staff;
- assist in identifying human resource overlaps or deficiencies within the practice.
Job descriptions should contain the following basic information:
- job title or name of position;
- employment status (i.e., permanent, temporary, part-time, independent contractor, etc.);
- reporting and relationship within the architectural practice;
- description of duties and responsibilities;
- educational requirements;
- experience requirements;
- requirements for membership in professional or technical associations;
- special conditions of employment related to the position (special skills, travel requirements, languages, etc.).
1.2 Application for Employment
Applicants for employment at architecture firms typically submit a cover letter, a personal résumé or curriculum vitae, and a portfolio of work if appropriate. An application for employment is not a common form used by architectural practices; however, it may be used by larger firms, multi-office/multi-disciplinary firms, or recruitment agencies.
Human rights and employment standards legislation in most Canadian jurisdictions prevents employers from requesting the following information:
- marital status;
- family status (e.g., single parent);
- record of offences;
- citizenship, race, ancestry, place of origin;
- colour or ethnic origin;
- sex or sexual orientation.
Ensure that if an application form is used, it complies with the requirements of the applicable jurisdiction.
1.3 Interview Form: Telephone or Face-to-Face
Ideally a firm would use consistent interview guidelines for a specific employment opportunity for all applicants. This limits the possibility of discrimination due to inconsistency of questions and content.
- assist in guiding the interviewer to gather comparative information from prospective employees;
- establish a set of essential criteria that are needed to satisfy the firm’s human resources requirements;
- prevent the interviewer from asking inappropriate questions or questions that may violate human rights or employments standards legislation.
Mode: [Telephone interview] [Face-to-face interview]
- Tell me about yourself. Describe yourself.
- I have your resume but please highlight specific information that you think is most important in your education and work experience.
- What do you value?
- What are you passionate about?
- What interests you about this position?
- This is a [maternity replacement] [temporary] [life-of-the-project] position with a defined term of employment. Is that an employment situation that interests you?
- What do you know about [the firm]?
- What interests you about working with [the firm]?
- Describe the working environment that suits you best.
- Scenario: Provide a scenario(s) that the candidate is most likely to experience in their routine operations. The question is best applied when the situation(s) demonstrates conflict or stress that the candidate can expect to manage. For example:
- “This role involves working with a design project’s user-stakeholders. In many cases they are experienced professionals who will know a great deal about the operations of their organizations but little about the design process, and may have limited patience and time for your inquiries. Some can be difficult and opinionated, occasionally even rude. How would you handle a teleconference situation in which there are four people involved, the discussion is getting heated, and you perceive that you are not respected due to your status as not being a member of their professional group?”
- When can you start?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Do you have any questions for us?
1.4 Interview Evaluation Form
This form can be appended to the applicant’s submission and interview form; however, it may be preferable to separate the two forms for purposes of confidentiality.
This form is used to make:
- a record of the interview;
- a record of the interviewer’s personal notes and observations;
- an appraisal of the applicant.
The Interview Evaluation Form should contain the following information:
- date of interview;
- name of applicant;
- name of interviewer;
- interviewer’s personal notes and observations;
- salary expectations;
- verification of references.
1.5 Performance Evaluation Form
See Chapter 3.6 – Human Resources for information on performance reviews and evaluation.
- describes an employee’s attributes;
- identifies career and professional goals;
- measures productivity;
- adjusts salary or pay scales;
- assists as a tool to improve performance.
The content of this form varies, based on the approach of the architectural practice to employee performance evaluation. Some possible information includes:
- name of employee;
- existing job description;
- review of current workload;
- assessment of competency — the fulfilment of duties and responsibilities;
- career and professional goals;
- communications and interpersonal relations;
- professional development or training;
- a specific outcome or “deliverable”;
- a method of measurement;
- a time frame for completion;
- signatures of employee and employer.
2. Forms for Financial Management
The recommendations and forms that follow are largely for illustrative purposes. Note that many firms use spreadsheet or other financial management programs; however, these should nonetheless include the information recommended below.
See Appendix B – Financial Forms at the end of this chapter for sample forms.
The invoice is the document which lists professional services rendered, together with prices and charges, based on the client-architect agreement. The invoice should indicate the basis for the fee (fixed, percentage of construction cost, per diem, etc.), and provide an orderly calculation of the fees itemizing the services rendered and fees for same. Where additional services are provided, these should be detailed. Reimbursable expenses may be included in the invoice; however, some practices prefer to bill reimbursable expenses and/or additional services separately so that if there are any disputes around these amounts, generally much less than the basic fees, then the resolution of those disputes should not affect the prompt payment of basic services fees. Expenses may be supported by receipts or proof of the expense.
Sophisticated and institutional clients may require the architect’s invoices to include specific information needed for processing payment. The architect is advised to review the client’s requirements carefully and augment invoices to meet clients’ information requirements.
The invoice should contain the following information:
- name of client;
- project name and number;
- Business Number issued by Canada Revenue Agency (Goods and Services Tax [GST] number or Harmonized Sales Tax [HST] number);
- list of professional services rendered;
- fee earned for services rendered to date;
- list of reimbursable expenses (this may be a separate invoice or appended to the invoice);
- previous payments;
- appropriate taxes (such as GST, HST or TVQ);
- current amount due and payable.
Architects are advised to ensure that their invoices meet the requirements of any prompt payment legislation in their jurisdiction.
See the sample invoices Forms 2.1 and 2.2 in Appendix A of this chapter.
Form 3.11 Form A represents an invoice submitted at 60% of the completion of the construction contract. In the example, the estimated cost of construction at the design stage was $200,000; at the working drawing stage (construction documents phase), the estimate was $220,000. The successful bidder’s tender of $218,000 was accepted, and change orders during the construction adjusted the contract amount to $226,000.
An example of additional services, in this case billed hourly for design and documentation involved in the preparation of the change orders, are shown on the sample invoice (as per Schedule B, Additional Services, of Canadian Standard Form of Contract for Architectural Services Document Six). In this sample case, only the contract administration services for the change orders are covered in the percentage fee which is based on the revised contract amount. The architect’s fee is 8%. The fee during the construction administration phase is applied to the current contract amount. Consistent with the definitions of construction cost in both Canadian Construction Documents Committee (CCDC) contracts and RAIC Documents Six and Nine, value-added tax, either GST or HST, is not applied to the contract value in calculating fees.
To facilitate payment, cash flow, and cost control, it is sometimes preferable to issue separate invoices for:
- fees for basic services;
- fees for additional services;
- reimbursable expenses.
Refer also to Chapter 3.4 – Financial Management, and to Chapter 3.9 – Architectural Services and Fees.
2.2 Fee Calculation
Except in the case of an hourly-fee based project, the practice must determine the costs of providing the necessary services before submitting a proposal or fee quotation. This calculation is sometimes called a fee forecast. The calculation is based on a projection or estimate of costs using the life cycle phases of the design project. The calculation requires an estimate of the number of effort hours required to do the work of each life cycle phase, i.e., schematic design, document production, etc., and the blended hours’ rate of the firm. This approach applies to projects from simple to complex.
For complex projects, each life cycle phase or “deliverable” can be broken down into subdeliverables and then, if required, into tasks. The key to the effective use of this calculation method is being able to access historic data of the actual effort hours expended on a deliverable-by-deliverable, subdeliverable-by-subdeliverable, or task-by-task basis from past projects.
A fee calculation sheet is necessary to:
- determine the payroll cost and other costs of providing the service;
- identify appropriate personnel and consultants for the service;
- assist in scheduling work within the office;
- assist in fee negotiations with the client.
The sheet should provide the following information:
- project name and number;
- construction value for the project;
- list of professional services required;
- fee forecast:
- payroll costs;
- consultants’ fees;
- overhead and profit.
2.3 Project Cost Control Chart
This form can serve as a tool for tracking payroll costs related to a specific project.
The form can be used as:
- a status report on each project;
- a performance evaluation tool;
- a reference for future fee calculations;
- a warning to indicate when payroll costs have exceeded the budgeted amount;
- a project planning tool.
The form should include the following information:
- project name and number;
- construction value of the project;
- percentage of architectural services completed to date;
- staff involved, including project manager;
- effort-hours expended to date;
- budgeted effort-hours remaining;
- payroll and other costs to date;
- fee billed to date;
- fee remaining;
- budget comparison (comparison with Fee Calculation Sheet).
2.4 Time Report
Time reports are an essential management tool. Effort hours should be completed on a daily basis by employees and submitted weekly by every partner, shareholder, and employee in the practice as well as by billable independent contractors. Where reports are generated weekly, it remains a best practice for everyone to capture time use continuously. This produces the most accurate historical reports as well as capturing events such as telephone calls and impromptu meetings, which are often, in fact, additional services.
Time reports are:
- a basis for remuneration to employees and independent contractors;
- an historical reference for project scheduling and allocation of human resources;
- a record for monitoring payroll costs and scheduling;
- an evaluation tool for employee performance;
- a documented record of services and additional services provided to clients;
- a management tool for analysis of work activities;
- a record to assist in the completion of the Canadian Experience Record Book for intern architects.
Every time sheet, whether in manual, spreadsheet or work-management application, should include the following information:
- employee name (and number for larger firms);
- time period;
- project name and number;
- type of work activity;
- tabulation of daily and weekly activities by fractional hours—capture to the nearest 1/10th hour is recommended.
- employee and supervisor signatures.
2.5 Expense Claim Form
The use of the expense claim form must be coordinated with the office procedures to ensure that allowances for travel (rate per kilometre), meals, etc., are fair and current. Receipts for expenses are usually attached to the form in order to substantiate expense claims.
Expense claim forms are used as:
- part of normal accounting records, which may be subject to audit;
- a record to prepare invoices for reimbursable expenses;
- a management tool for project budgeting.
Expense claim forms should include the following information:
- name of claimant;
- time period;
- approval signature (if required);
- purpose of expense;
- project name and number;
- itemized list of expenses (with receipts):
- travel (mode, distance, and destination);
- other out-of-pocket expenses;
- amount of any advances;
- total amount claimed;
- signature of claimant.
2.6 Purchase Order
This form is not normally used by architectural firms, although it may be commonplace in larger organizations or institutions where architects are employed. A purchase order should never be used in lieu of a contract, to secure architectural services.
A purchase order creates a simple contract between the organization practice and the supplier. It also:
- outlines the terms and conditions of the purchase;
- helps control overhead costs within the firm;
- provides a record of material and equipment (reconciliation or a type of partial inventory).
A purchase order form should contain the following information:
- name of supplier and purchaser;
- purchase order number;
- method of shipment;
- quantity and description of product;
- unit price and total price, including taxes;
- conditions of purchase (warranties, support, delivery schedules, etc.);
- project name and number (if applicable).
Purchase order forms are often pre-printed and may be sequentially numbered to control purchases. Some organizations advise their suppliers that invoices will not be paid without an authorized purchase order.
3. Forms and Stamps for the Management of the Practice
3.1 Project Directory
The project directory is an internal document used for a variety of marketing and management functions. It may be a single document or a database that summarizes information for all projects or a separate document for each project. Increasingly, much project directory content is taken from a common practice database so that project information is available to a project team without providing all information to all teams. A project directory has many functions:
- a list of information to use as a filing reference;
- identification of staff responsible for each project;
- a list of project consultants, contractors and perhaps major suppliers;
- a reference for key dates, such as the date of project commencement;
- a management tool for a variety of functions;
- a financial management tool, if it provides the following additional information:
- construction value;
- indication of the percentage of completion for the project.
3.2 Office Stamps
Each architectural practice should have a series of electronic or traditional ink stamps or notes which are used to indicate the status of a document or drawing. In the past it was common to apply these notations using rubber stamps with a separate ink pad or self-inking stamps, and this is still applicable for paper communications received or sent by mail, as well as scanned paper documents.
The following are some common stamps used in an architectural practice:
3.2.1 Received/Routing Stamp
This stamp registers the date of receipt of all incoming documents (correspondence, trade journals, catalogues, transmittals, drawings, etc.).
This stamp can also be used to indicate the routing or circulation of the document.
See Appendix C – Stamps for two sample illustrations—the second example allows for the insertion of a sequential list of recipients as well as their initials indicating review.
3.2.2 Other Stamps
Examples of other useful stamps are:
- For Deposit Only
- Day File
See Appendix C – Stamps for illustrations of the stamps listed above.