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“Workflow automation” and what it means for architects

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From single architects being able to design complex installations for Burning Man, in a week, with no draughtsmen, to the digital delegation of previously time-consuming tasks like builder sourcing and tender management, workflow automation is changing the way architects, and indeed the world works.

Broadly speaking, an automated workflow is one where predefined rules trigger predefined actions. If you’ve ever filtered your emails into separate inboxes by subject matter, you’re already familiar. But it can support far more complex tasks, like time and resourcing management, too. When new tasks crop up your automation tools might assign them to the team member with the time and authority to handle the job in question.

 
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In short, if there’s time-intensive admin and resource-sapping work to do, the potential for automation is never far behind. And that’s why studios are now actively seeking out recurring tasks – those that distract and demotivate their team – and implementing software to speed them up or eradicate them altogether.

Take sourcing builders as an example. Rather than ringing around to find builders, architects are using tools like Weaver to be matched automatically based on their project criteria – timings, required skills and so on. They can then invite them to tender in a click.

Automation is being used to streamline tenders, too. Architects are able to add builders to a central dashboard, which manages the end-to-end process from sending out tender packs, setting reminders and notifications on their behalf. This eliminates the need to stress about incomplete tasks and impending deadlines. An automatically generated tender report, meanwhile, provides a comprehensive and standardised analysis of the quotations you receive, and an itemised breakdown of the costs and timeframes involved allowing for simple like for like comparisons.

 
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Thanks to these types of tools, the architects putting the least amount of effort into these processes are finding more time to focus on the work that matters and increasingly delivering the best results. And this is only the starting point for workflow automation.

The future of architecture will be one where the day to day looks very different,  and it will be the architects adopting these technologies now who’ll be best placed to deal with the exponential rate of change that comes with new technology adoption.