DESIGN STAKEHOLDERS

Post 660 -by Gautam Shah

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A Design is generated for many types of ‘people’. Some are ‘clients’, because they appoint and pay to the designer, and/or finance+manage the project. A user of the designed entity (building, interior design, products etc.) may be a real consumer or a hypothetical profile framed by the planning-marketing consultant or team. It is possible that Design can have many levels of consumers like occupiers, regular and casual visitors and lay-people (uninvolved in design but ‘onlookers’, ‘pride feelers’ or citizens). All these, designers, financiers, project conveners, managers, consumers, occupiers, visitors and onlookers, are stakeholders.

Stakeholders meet

A stakeholder is a person, group or organization, having interest, concerns or grievances for the objectives, policies, plans of actions or effort. These persons are inside or outside the organization, but show a characteristic proximity, intimacy, knowledgeability, and have degree of physical affectations and urgency.

Women at farmers rally Bhopal India

Stakeholders Interests : Stakeholders’ interests are positive or negative but may show contradicting interests. Secondary stakeholders are sometimes indirectly affected, more distanced and may not acutely represent the urgency. Internal stakeholders, at organizational level are like staff, suppliers, consultants, financiers, investors, etc. The stakeholders’ interests could be economics, social, work conditions, safety and security, environmental concerns, public resources and enforcement of Government and other obligatory regulations. At other level the stakeholders could have political interest, propagation of ideology, support or negation of specific materials, processes or technologies.

Gujarat High Court Building Ahmedabad India

Managing Stakeholders : Stakeholders represent bridges of social connections, which if properly cultivated help public acceptance of designers’ works. The acceptances include new clients, approvals, grants, loans. The social bridges can act as buffers, to tide over the shortfall, on quality expectations, delivery schedules, budget overruns and professional competition. Stakeholders increase the business credibility of the organization, and personal social reliability.

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How to deal with Stakeholders : It is easier to deal with stakeholders as a group than in isolation. Recognize stakeholders for their geographic and class of affectation. The real affectations could be economic, social, safety, encroachment or compromise of rights and opportunities for participation in the process. A stakeholder or the group may want public exposure, a media story or political gratification. Stakeholders are societal inluencers and demand certain respect, and this can be offered through participation or engagements. Both of these can be achieved by keeping them informed in design conception, planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation processes.

Reagan sitting withstakeholders of Afghanistan-Pakistan

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DESIGN PROJECTS and CLIENTS

Post 538  by Gautam Shah

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Projects come to a Designer through many different channels. One of the simplest and obvious source is through a (user) Client. The client, in a very simplistic term is a person who pays for the design services. But a client may or may not be the person to own or use the entity to be delivered. Clients and Professional both need to have a right to initiate the relationship. The right to be a client, though fundamentally derives from the capacity to pay or compensate for the design creation services, it has many other facets. A person as a client must have:

1 investible resources or finance to execute a project; 2 a space or site as land or building for the project, 3 some form of experience; expertise or knowledge as to what the project is or know how to secure the same; 4 and an intense desire, aspiration, vision or motivation for the project.

Shop in the The Crystals in Las Vegas wikipedia image by Author Gryffindor

Clients must have a need for the design services. A project, which is fairly complex, requires some expert input, and must be handled by a professional. A client on own could have the qualifications or organizational backing to generate a design for the project, but may be circumstantially restrained to do so. Government officials and persons in charge of an organization as an employee must remain at ‘arms length where their positional neutrality can be questioned. Such clients must hire external or independent professionals.

flicker image by love2dreamfish

A client realizes the potential for a project when the assets such as land, building, money; and personal qualities like knowledge, expertise, experience; remain unexplored, or are not providing sufficient gains. In case of assets the financial adviser provides clues how to explore the situation. Personal qualities motivate a person to an activity to pursue. For the first set, the financial expert suggests the ways, and agency who can give a shape to it. For the second set, the person with knowledge, expertise, experience, will still need an agency to formulate the project. For both the cases the agency could be a project consultant or a designer. Financial advisers and project consultants are the largest referring agencies for designers. Next lot of design assignments arrive from designers of other branches of design. An architect would need services of structural, interior or landscape designer. An interior designer would have to depend on an architect, structural or landscape designer.

wikipedia image by Author Derzsi Elekes Andor

To initiate a project, a professional requires some prime information or mandatory data. The clients’ potential for a project, reflects in the nature of data, available to generate a design. Providing prime information or mandatory data is both, a client’s duty and right. A professional must get basic data like the nature of ownership or rights of access to the site, site identity, design requirements, nature and sources of funds to implement the design. A professional can get such data from other sources, yet to check out the capacity and sincerity of a client, the design professional demands such information during the first meeting. A professional relationship is initiated with handing over data by the client, to a designer. Provision of data by a client, is a token of job commitment and retention of the professional’s services. Provision of data to a design professional is a clients’ right. A client may exercise that right to control the cost (by appointing own agencies) and accuracy of the data.

Non specific groups as clients > Wikipedia image by Author Jaimoen87

Small individual clients, casually begin to discuss their needs and dreams. A professional must accept such submissions formally by acknowledging it in writing. Organized clients, with complex projects bring in a brief or project programme. Non specific groups as clients, like a statutory body representing a mass of faceless clients, may have nothing more than the assignment title and appointment letter to offer at the start of a job. Virtually no data is offered. Projects postulated by other professionals, come with extremely detailed brief.

Projects postulated by other professionals, come with extremely detailed brief. >>> Wikipedia image by Author Smallworldsocial Permission (Reusing this file) http://www.smallworldsocial.com/press

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MANAGING FEES -for Building Design practices PART – II

Post 497  by Gautam Shah

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A design client visiting a design office or querying about design fees through a communication channel, must provide some basic details about own-self and the project (its location and scope). Such inquiries however, routine must not be answered instantly or orally. A design fee statement is not a commodity rates list, and should be presented after knowing, meeting or vetting a client. A design fee statement presented to a client should be very specific. It should never be a standard print-out with few filled in blanks.

Students People Talking

A designer must mention as to why (under what circumstances) the fees are being stated in the presentation. For this purpose a Fees statement must mention the name of the client, and some details of the project, including its location.

Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kerala India. A large building complex design has many overlapping design interests and fees for a component must have Limitations Statement.

A typical Starting Line could be > In reference to our meeting / your query of Dated: Date-Month-Year, I/We present our Terms, Conditions and Schedule of Charges for the Design Services1 for XYZ project2 for Client3 at, Location of project4.

1 = Architectural, Interior Design, Landscape Design, etc.

2 = Residential, School, Hospital, Office, etc.

3 = Mr or Mrs XYZ or M/s ABC Co (The Client).

4 = Plot or Building number, Suburb, Town, State, etc. (Location of the Project).

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It is very necessary to define precisely the scope of design services and for this Statement of Limitations must become part of Design Fees Statement. A statement of limitation restricts the liability to only the listed nature of services.

Pic from Wikipedia by Author Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Wien > French photographer en:Jean-Pierre Sudre, France, 1975.

TYPICAL STATEMENT OF LIMITATIONS >

1 We offer Design Services in the field of ____ . This statement relates to, our offer for design only services. Design services will mean and include designing, describing, specifying and facilitating (by our selves and other consultants to be appointed for sub services) the total project and its systems that are necessary. Design shall mean all drawn, written or digitally formatted documents, oral or otherwise instructed or implied schemes emanating from our office or the staff. The Period of design services shall nominally last 12 months from the date of payment of first payment of fees. On completion of this period, the Design Services will have to be renegotiated as a fresh project.

2 We offer our services as Designers, and for that we do not sell, supply or help procure any components, units, goods or materials, or provide on rent, hire or provide on any other basis: human resources, plants, tools, equipment, implements or gadgets. We also do not undertake any type of operations or servicing of jobs. We do not provide any operational surety or performance guarantees or warrantees for the items, systems, or schemes likely to be generated or formed through implicit or explicit design, suggestion, instructions drawn, described, specified in our design.

3 All payments to vendors, contractors and suppliers shall be made to the party concerned, directly by the client. As a designer our responsibility will be restricted to checking the work bills, and approving for payments, provided such bills or their authenticated copies are presented by the client with appropriate request to us.

President of UW Mark Emmert with an architect Pic from Flickr by Wonderlane

4 The job of Design shall mean designing and specifying all things for a building and its immediate surroundings (if listed in scope of a design project), and apparently for which no sanctions from any authority will be required. However, if any such sanctions / permissions are required, the client shall on own cost arrange them, or negotiate the issue separately with the designer.

5 As a consultant Architectural Designer we operate on our own, providing all such services to cause a building structure. We do not collaborate or agree to take in any help from any other designer or such experts or consultant, working on the behalf of any other agency weather paid by the clients or not. We will not accept or abide by reports, advise or observations offered by such persons or agencies. We will also not allow access or make available any copies of our documents, studies etc. to such persons or agencies.

Architects-office.

COMMITTING a CLIENT for JOB

Post 489  by Gautam Shah

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For a young and fresh professional, a new client is like a girl (or boy) friend. You look for the right occasion and mood to propose. And perhaps discuss the terms and conditions. The client may not run away, but will also not indicate any commitment. A fresh professional is always very eager to secure the job, and may not wish to disturb the budding but fragile relationship with the client. But a client detests any formalization of relationship so early with an age-old excuse, ‘does not fully know the professional yet’. That translates to the reality that client wants to delay the decision. Clients are also shrewd enough to have a free taste of thing to come before formalizing the relationship.

When a professional and client decide to establish a relationship, it usually occurs very gradually. An established professional will not show any haste. Rather, express a desire to know more about the project and perhaps the client, before establishing a relationship. All seasoned professionals expect new clients to be familiar with the design field and their projects. This is quite different from fresh professionals who are required to establish their bonafide.

All design professionals (fresh and established) need to know, if they decide to take on a project —what will be their gain, and if they do not take a project —would there be a loss ? To accommodate (accept) an odd project or unusual client, a professional may not only shed profits, but end-up disturbing the routine work and culture of the practice.

Ecrivains_consult_-_Texte_4_mainsFor all professionals, requisition of a formal commitment (consent) from a client, for a job, is a very difficult exercise. Formal commitment binds a professional to deliver the expected services. A professional begins a job, by investing in labour, stationary and intellectual skills. Whereas, a client awaits with uncertainty whether the professional will at all deliver the project with required quality, and in time. When a professional fails to deliver, not only client’s time, but effort expended reaching to this stage are wasted. Clients’ time and efforts both are non-calculable and recoverable entities. And when the client fails to appreciate a professional’s work, all the labour, stationary and intellectual skills are wasted. Few of these can ever be determined.

A variety of problems manifest, till a client formally commits a job to the professional. In case of an individual client (private), only a personal whim can cause a problem in the job. In case of a client representing a formal or informally constituted group, the leader’s relations and position with the group, if changes, it can necessitate recasting of negotiations. In case of group clients or committees, all decisions and actions are necessarily formal, and so job commitment is not a major problem, though there are inevitable delays.

Pic Wikipedia Uploaded by russavia, Author: Richter Frank-Jurgen

Ideally a client and a professional should enter into a contract as per the law of the land. But a contract is a very formal expression of intent. It is too much to expect a client and a professional to formalize their relationship with a contract, when they hardly know each other, or have not formulated the project. Just the same, even in the absence of a contract, they must nurture the relationship. In a normal course this is not very difficult, as both the parties are willing. However, at a later stage if there is a problem, either of the parties may refuse to recognize the fact that there was a budding relationship between them. In such a situation a professional will lose all that was invested in understanding, preliminary working, planning of the project. This could include not only labour, stationary but patent ideas. On the other hand a client will never recover the time that wasted in searching, identifying, convincing the professional and waiting for solution.

Angelo Litrico 1957 Italian fashion designer

It is very natural that clients and professional are extremely careful about things they say and do. For a professional, (who is operating in the absence of a very formal commitment), it is necessary to create an evidence that, a client did commit the job or at least was aware that the professional is working on it. The evidence in such a case is usually circumstantial. Circumstantial evidences are not generally tenable in court of law, unless corroborated by other circumstantial or real evidences.

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Best commitment, next to a legal contract is payment of a Retainer amount. A retainer fee, however small, signifies establishment of a relationship, between a client and a professional. (retainer amount or fee should not be confused with retention money). Ideally a retainer amount should be large enough to cover not only the labour, stationary and skill, but the cost of patent (original or exclusive) ideas required to generate a schematic design (or such other stage when fees again become due). The cost of patent or unique idea is collected at first go, because a unique idea or a concept once exposed to an outsider like a client, loses its originality and so the value.

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HOW DO PROFESSIONALS and CLIENTS SEEK EACH OTHER ?

Post 484  by Gautam Shah

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Professionals and clients seek each other in a variety of ways. A client can go about it without any inhibitions, whereas a professional can go about it with certain restrictions, depending on the type ethics followed by the profession. Client and professional come to know about each other primarily through intermediaries like friends, relatives and so on. However, in a rare case, the client may contact a professional directly after seeing or experiencing the work as a real entity, sketch or a publication about it.

CLIENTS’ approach

A lay-person as an Individual is always free to appoint any person as an adviser or helper for the professional services. Here no Government regulations or rules of the professional bodies like council or guild can be operative. Perhaps by dealing with ‘unrecognized professional’ one may not get legal protection or redressal.

When an organization, as a client is not allowed, or authorized to deal with any professional, on a person to person basis; a process for an appropriate selection of a professional is required. The process of selection begins with invitations offered to:

  • any competent member of society,
  • member of bodies with a certain level of competence
  • members of a body who necessarily have certain level of competence.
  • persons belonging to a certain geographical region, experience, age, sex, nationality, religion.

For complex jobs, selection of a professional is done through a competition, wherein professionals are required to tackle certain essential components of the job, or offer a holistic concept towards the issue.

Intermediary

A client may not contact a professional, unless there is some foreknowledge, reference or suggestion by someone. This usually comes through another professional, like a financial adviser. Members of the society usually know where and how to locate professionals of well established or traditional fields. However, in newer branches of human skills, the professional and the client do not have an appropriate forum to interact. In such situations, the intermediary professionals help to bring together the potential clients and professional.

PROFESSIONALS’ approach

A professional on realizing a person’s potential as a client, may seek the person directly or through a mutual acquaintance or a friend. However, if the person concerned is a potential client in the official capacity (employed official of Government or private organization), than an official appointment with the clear declaration of intent is necessary.

A professional can seek a client in a variety of ways. Most of the professional bodies regulate a professional’s exposure and consequently the behaviour with the society in general and with potential clients in particular. Many professional bodies discourage direct advertisements by professionals to seek clients and assignments. “An advertisement however effective cannot project the professionalism or the competence of a professional”. It provides an undue advantage to the user.

Lawyer of the years

Most professional organizations believe that professionals should receive jobs in proportion to their professionalism and not their capacity to project through media. Paying out any consideration or any promise to that effect, to procure a job is also considered unethical. Problems of this ground arise; when a person is a client on the basis of the official position (so is capable of selecting / appointing and compensating a professional).

1024px-Consultation_-_Health_Check-up_Camp_-_Howrah_Swamiji_Sangha_-_Dumurjala_-_Howrah_2015-04-12_7598Cultivation of social contact is the most common method for a professional to come into contact with a potential client. Other Personal approaches include, specific letters, generalized bulletins, telephonic calls and face to face meetings. The impression created through a meeting or telephonic call may not be of desired type and intensity. Letters are very objective, last longer but have to be brief to be effective. Professionals get clients from other professionals. Here their competence is assured by the referring person.

Bio-data or resume is ever lasting, and very effective medium of exposure. Bio-data may contain basic information about the person, professional achievements and competence. Bio-data could be a very specific document, prepared (tailor made) for a potential client or could also be a generalized document that may serve to a set of potential clients with similar needs. Bio-data could be a very general introduction, good for any person whether potential client or a lay person.

A bio-data that is tailor made, may reveal or emphasize data that is relevant to that particular exposure. Concealment or non emphasis of data in such a bio-data is intentional and is generally not unethical though could be malafide. General bio-data tends to create impression of a commodity pamphlet. Creative professionals generally do not favour this type of medium. Internet has become an ideal medium for placing a Bio-data. A digital document is very flexible and accessible worldwide.

In dealings with clients, what kinds of behaviour, actions or attitude are considered as unethical, malafide or bad, varies from country to country, region to region, profession to profession, and time to time. In professions where rules regarding behaviour have not been formalized, it may vary even from a professional to professional.

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INTERIOR DESIGN and CLIENTS

INTERIOR DESIGN and CLIENTS

Post 413 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 

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Interior designers deal with many types of clients, knowledgeable, curious, domineering, modest and ignorant ones. But, two distinct classes of clients profoundly affect the design process. One, where the clients are corporate or organizational entities, with factual and detached interest in design, and Two, ‘personal-clients’ are inquisitive, participatory and subjectively involved.

For a designer continuous interaction with a client is important for a satisfying design process, delivery of a final product, and continued relationship. A professional designer needs to be aware of all the above three objectives. A satisfying design process helps in most appropriate product delivery. And an appropriate product backed by persistent concern creates a long-lasting relationship bringing in new projects and clients.

For a design professional stacks are very high in seeing that clients derive satisfaction during both the design and execution phase of the project. In case of Interior design, the design and execution phase converge, so it becomes all the more necessary to keep in touch with the clients.

During the design phase, corporate clients are satisfied by a stated programme and perhaps a discussion on it. The need to keep in touch during the execution phase is often perfunctory. Involvement of a corporate or organized client during the execution period may become necessary, when design-documents are inadequate in detail or when changed circumstances force a rethink.

During the design phase ‘personal or individual clients’ (like a family) if involved and curious would have many dreams about what product they need. These dreams consist of diverse unrelated stacks of images, collected from other impressionistic situations like media, magazines or actual examples. For designer the problem occurs in perceiving a holistic image out of it, or in offering and convincing the client about a novel offering that is far more exciting.

Clients in spite of being extraordinarily inquisitive cannot construct an executable image out of it, or can understand the formal language of drawings or graphical representations. During discussions they grab familiar words or terms and hang on to it. So designers have to be very careful how and what they express. For example, between ‘a red floor’ and ‘bright coloured floor finish’, the commitments are very different. Individual clients are very fast learners, and designers must expect them to be a super designer, by the time execution starts. With the fast learning their capacity to suggest changes enlarges many-fold, but designers should take this enhanced ability as the readiness to dabble in complex issues of design.

Interior designers must ‘engage’ their clients by adequately answering the quarries, offering convincing explanations, and by providing economic and technical comparisons among various options.

Interior Designers need to continue to satisfy their clients even after completion of a project. This helps clients come back to the original designer for the next Interior Design Job. A visit to the designed house, shop or office keeps the relationship with the client alive.

In interior design, the next job usually arrives within Five years, unlike in Architecture, where it may not happen in the current generation, i.e. not before 20/25 years.

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CLIENT and DESIGN PROFESSIONAL -Relationship

Post 305 – by Gautam Shah

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Relationship between a client and a design professional depends how they are introduced to each other, the status of client and design professional, and if it is fresh or renewed contact.

Relationship between a design professional and a client develops very gradually. The Client and professional usually have had some rapport, or social introduction even before a job is discussed. Any premature attempt to formalize the relationship disturbs the rapport. Difficulties occur at both, the client’s end, and the professional’s end, so they need to proceed carefully.

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It takes few meetings to formalize any level of relationship. Delays in relationship occur due to both the parties.

A client wants to delay because:

  • The client is unsure, if a design professional is needed.
  • The client is also not certain if the (introduced) design professional is the right person for the job.
  • The client, as an official, may not have the authorization to initiate the retention process for a professional.
  • The client may not have clear land ownership, adequate funds, or capacity to own-operate a project once it is delivered.
  • A shrewd client may wish to negotiate with other professionals.
  • A client may wish to collect many freebies (design ideas), and than perhaps carry on the job on own.

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A design professional is in a different setting.

  • A fresh starter -professional, is always very eager to get on with the job, yet such a professional avoids the formalized relationship, so as not to disturb the budding but fragile relationship with the client.
  • An established design professional, on the other hand is not in a hurry to formalize the relationship so early, till all facts about the client are known (status, land entitlement, funding, etc.).

Design professional desire, an early resolution to the dilemma. A relationship can be construed to have occurred when a formal commitment is available. For a design professional, securing a formal commitment (consent) from a client, for a job, is one of the most difficult of tasks. Consent commits a client to pay the design professional for the services to be rendered. The professional also becomes obligated to deliver the expected services.

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For a design professional the job has already begun the day the idea of a project is discussed. The design grows to a concept (sketch, doodle or ideation sketch) with investments in labour, stationary, materials, and most importantly the intellectual skills. All this process the client invests in time, remaining worried, if the design professional will at all deliver. When a professional fails to deliver, (even if any advance that may be fully refunded) client’s time and effort are wasted. (both non calculable entities).

On discussion of feasibility of a project, if a client refuses to appreciate the design professional’s work, not only calculable inputs are lost, but abstract cost of intellectual skills, go uncovered.

Ideally two parties must initiate their relationship with a contract, according to the laws of the land. A contract, is a very formal expression of intent. It is too much to expect a contract level relationship in the initial stage of a job, when the client and the professional hardly know each other, or have fully formed a project. Just the same, even without a contract a relationship must be nurtured. Normally this is not very difficult, when both the parties are willing, enthusiastic and have a mutual faith. A memorandum of understandings (MoU) is a less formal tool, frequently used as a step towards a full legal contract.

At a later stage when problems arise, either of the parties may refuse to even acknowledge the relationship between them. An informal relationship could turn very vicious. The design professional and client, both lose calculable and abstract costs.

It is very natural for clients and professional to be extremely careful about things they say and do in the initial stages of a job. For a design professional who is often operating without formal consent, securing a proof that his involvement has a tacit approval of the client, is very important. The evidence in such a case is usually circumstantial, and generally not tenable in a court of law, unless corroborated by other circumstantial or real evidences.

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The best commitment, next only to a legal contract or a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), is payment of a Retainer fee. A retainer fee, however small, signifies establishment of a relationship, between the client and the design professional. Ideally the quantum of a retainer fee should be large enough to cover the labour, stationary, and the cost of patent (original or exclusive) ideas, required to generate a schematic design (or similar a stage, when the first fee becomes due). The cost of patent or unique idea is collected at first go, because a unique idea or a concept once exposed to an outsider like a client loses its originality, and so the value.

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