The changing business model in experiential design.

How an end-to-end approach is replacing an old tradition – and how it can prevent exploding budgets, finger pointing, and headaches for your client.

Here's a scenario you might recognize – and some pitfalls your clients have encountered, too.

Suppose a client is going through a major renovation or expansion. Your work as architect or interior designer is underway. And you and your client are already thinking about the intricacies of wayfinding well before your client's new facility debuts. That includes all the directional signage and graphics that will guide visitors from Point A to Point B. And C. And Z. So your client hires an environmental graphic designer. And then they hire a fabricator. And you cross your fingers that all the pieces come together. Until they don't.

What could possibly go wrong, you ask?

The designer provides a concept the fabricator can't produce.

The fabricator does not understand the design or wants to do it their own way.

Miscommunication between suppliers complicates the project for your client.

Or, at the end of the project, there's either no standard or no one to build to it.

Speaking the same language

“The environmental graphic designer would specify a product and that had to be translated to the fabricator," says Anthony Fearby, who leads Takeform Project Management team. “They had to understand what was being specified. The fabricator might not be able to build to spec, or the cost to build was going to be astronomical. In the new end-to-end model, the partner is specifying things they know they can build... on schedule and on budget."

Communication among everyone was spotty.

“Communications would break down when there were too many cooks in the kitchen," says Shawntel House, Senior Project Manager at Takeform. “Clients had to deal with the pressure and chaos of keeping lots of players in the loop, which didn't always happen."

In short, working with multiple partners — the traditional model for getting wayfinding, signage, graphics, and installations done — was slow and expensive. Because of all the back and forth, the graphics firm and the fabricator weren't always on the same page and the timeline could stretch from weeks into months.

It's a new day in the experiential graphics business.

And there's a new way to get things done: end-to-end project management. This is a process in which your client hires a single partner who makes everything happen. Bidding. Design. Fabrication. Installation. One partner who, just like you, remembers your client for months and years to come, and can pick up right where they left off.

“The old way has to do with different skill sets in different industries," Anthony says. “For example, the sign guys don't have the skill set to pull off the big picture creative requirements. So they hire a separate design firm to support them."

Ultimate control over product and cost.

And that's welcome news for architects and designers. It makes the work happen faster. Smarter. Just like the pace of today's commerce. It's about choosing a partner who can not only cover the entire process, but takes ownership and offers you support for the long term.

“The experiential design industry is changing. End-to-end capabilities and trusted relationships bring so much more to the table," Anthony says. “There are product guarantees. Price protection. With long-term partnership comes trust."

One firm. One contact. It's that simple.

When one firm designs and builds the product, there's no bidding in between. No construction documents needed, because the designer and builder are the same entity. Which is one big reason why end-to-end project management saves time and money. When one partner owns all the responsibility to design, build, and install, your client doesn't have to worry about being caught in the middle. One company is responsible for a successful project outcome, as opposed to two who point fingers at each other when something goes wrong. Which makes life easier for you, as the lead architect or interior designer.

It also means your client only has to make one phone call. Or send one email.

“With end-to-end, from the outset, you're reaching out to one person," says Denielle Wilson, a Takeform project manager. “You aren't dealing with all these different sources. Same contact from wayfinding, design, approvals, building, installation, maintenance."

“There's something to be said about building a personal relationship with your client," Shawntel says. “When you have a project manager holding your hand through the whole project. You don't have to babysit. You have one person disseminating all your wants and desires to the rest of the team. That level of comfort and relationship is most important."

But will it cost clients more?

Some organizations use the bidding process to look for the lowest cost. The problem is, the lowest price tag doesn't always translate to the best value — or the least expense. It's important for your clients to understand that.

“A unit price tag can be deceiving — it doesn't take into account the cost of delays, miscommunication, the client spending time managing/coordinating different firms," Denielle says.

Just the same, hiring a single provider can sometimes cause anxiety, especially in a no-bid situation. Clients worry about getting ripped off because their supplier isn't competing with any other partners.

That's why it's important to properly vet an end-to-end provider. A little up-front scrutiny can help clients enter the relationship with confidence, knowing that they're avoiding headaches without overpaying.

Something old, something new:

How end-to-end project management compares to the traditional projects

Traditional approach

End-to-end approach

Multiple partners, each in their own silo and sometimes working at cross purposes

One partner, one point of contact, with competencies across the board

Often no design standard to refer to for updates

Creating sign standards so that when you grow or need updates, the updates are consistent

“Project done? Over and out!"

Yearly graphics audits to see what's changed and provide updates

Unpredictable pricing, depending on volume, etc.

Price protection—the unit cost for one is the same as the cost for 1,000

Ready to start a new project?

Get in touch with us today about any questions you may have regarding a current work-in-progress, a potential new project or more information on the new approach to project management.

Reach Out Our End-to-End Process

Posted in: Project Management  |  Tagged: Certificate of Occupancy, Environmental Graphics, Facility, General Contractor, Guarantee, Installation, Project Management

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