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An Account of Change

I’ve just changed my accountant from a reputable ‘traditional’ accountancy firm to an accountant some distance away who will access all my data via an online ‘cloud hosted’ software package. I should have done it years ago and saved the money that this approach allows.

Tea anybody?

Tea anybody?

It’s not just accountancy that is facing technological change. The practice of architecture has changed enormously in the years that I’ve been in the profession. When I first came to London in the 1980’s the big offices who handled the big jobs were for the most part based in the West End. So were the structural engineers, building services engineers and quantity surveyors as well as many of the clients. I worked on one big project where we alternated the design team meetings between the team members (rather than at the architect’s office) as all were within walking distance. The big offices carried out the big jobs because they had sufficient numbers of technical staff to complete the technical design stage which is the labour intensive part of any project. Big offices also had their own prized office specifications and large ‘hard copy’ technical libraries with at least one full time librarian. This all changed on account of architectural computing. Desktop computers have so much power and save so much time (especially when it comes to repetition or making changes) that they did away with the need for large teams allowing small practices to carry out large projects. The online national building specification did away with specifications that were the property of one practice and online technical data did away with ‘hard copy’ technical libraries which are often frowned upon nowadays as they are likely to carry out of date material.

Location is no longer a factor either in winning work. With emails and online communications project design teams can be assembled from all over the UK. In my practice it is sufficient simply to be within a train ride of central London and within a short drive of the M25.

The good news for clients is that constant competitive pressure has ensured that the efficiencies brought about by technological change have all been passed on to clients in the form of reduced fees and I expect my saved accountancy fees to be reflected in my own fees as a reduced overhead.

Iain Miller