Architecture Practice Management with Phil Snowdon of Ola Studio

Ola Studio a Melbourne based Architecture practice portfolio varies  from multi residential buildings to enclosures at Melbourne Zoo. Director Phil Snowdon shares what he’s learned about practice management since setting up his business.

What systems do you use and would recommend for day to day administration of your practice?

We use MYOB Essentials for accounting. It’s good, easy, cost effective and links with our bank accounts and streams our super contributions. It seems to do everything Xero does. We’ve thought about changing over just because the interface looks better.

We use Harvest for tracking time and project budgeting. It’s also good, easy and cost effective.

We use a spreadsheet for projecting and tracking cash flow.

Do you have a business plan?  If so how did you approach writing one

 We started one, using a template. But we got too busy to finish it. The template was similar to this one.

What do you now know about running a small business that you wish you had known when you were starting out?

The importance of understanding in detail the costs involved in keeping the business running.

What are your top three tips for running a successful small practice?

  1. Don’t commit to things that cost money that you don’t yet have.
  2. Always keep looking for new work.
  3. The most successful form of marketing is to do good work.

Tell us a little bit about your practice

Ola is a design focused studio run by myself and Manos Mavridis. Our first office was in a small bungalow in Preston where we worked predominately on small scale residential jobs. We were lucky enough to outgrow that space and as the practice has grown so too has our range of project types and scales. We now find ourselves covering on an interesting mix of residential, multi-residential, bars, restaurants, and zoological work. Recently projects have also expanded beyond Melbourne with several projects now interstate and also a couple in France resulting in us opening a new satellite office in Paris.

We are very passionate about the work we do and strive to create warm and inviting spaces through a rigorous and collaborative design approach. Integral to our design methodology is a focus on how we can contribute positively to our living and natural environment and minimise the negative environmental impact our work may cause.We advocate passive thermal efficiency through clever and sensible planning, and aim to keep mechanical systems for energy and thermal control simple and to be manually operated when possible to minimise ongoing maintenance and encourage user engagement with their environment.