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Welcome to our new SDA Blog which we've called the e-Wire. We hope you enjoy the insights and information that will be shared here by our authors. Be sure to leave a comment and share with others.


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What IS a Hashtag Anyway?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 22, 2017


For most of us old timers, a hashtag is a pound sign.  Well it used to be until someone started using it on social media.  So what it a hashtag anyways?  Well it is a # sign before a topic, e.g. #SDA.  It is that simple.  If you are posting something on a social media outlet and would like to make it into a searchable topic, add a hashtag. 



There are some rules that need to be followed when using a hashtag:

1.       No spaces

2.       Use capitalization to separate word instead of space because it doesn’t affect the search capabilities

3.       You can use numbers, but not symbols in your hashtag

A general rule of thumb is to use no more than three in any one posting.  SDA has used hashtags when we are using Twitter during EDSymposium.  This is an easy way for someone to follow one topic.  Try it.  Look up one of your favorite topics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+.  My favorite is #TGIF.  You might be surprised at who you can meet and talk with about topics that you both like.  Using the comment box below, let us know what are some of your favorite hashtags?


Sabrina Heard, CDFA, is the Office Manager/Executive Assistant

at Randall-Paulson Architects in Roswell, Georgia

She currently serves as the SDA National President-Elect. 

Tags:  hashtag  SDA  Society for Design Administration  tip 

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Sensible Ways to Cut Overhead

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 6, 2017

I recently  received a link to a free ebook by PSMJ Resources on Financial Management.  I was skimming it and came to their discussion on overhead and the “11 Ways to Cut Overhead”. I was outraged by #9, Shift job-cost reporting, billing, and other accounting functions to the secretary who does it as a part-time, collateral duty.  In the name of all good design firm bookkeepers everywhere I would have thrown something right across the nexus in response, and it wouldn’t have been flattering. It’s right up there with their last Top Ten Overhead Cost Cutting List a couple of years ago when they said “Fire all of the Administrators.”

Their first two ways extolled the cost saving approaching of making printing a profit center.  (See list below)  If anyone still thinks that in this all electronic document/no printing 21st century world, printing is still a line item that drives overhead rates, I’m not sure where they’re working.

Another of their other dubious methods included: “5. Discontinue in-house lunches;”  when, according to a survey by Peapod, companies that provide free food have happier employees compared with those who don’t get to chow down on their employer’s dime, and forward-thinking companies know that collaboration during non-paid lunches is a free hour of work for the firm.

So  – partially tongue-in-cheek (but grounded in truth) – I came up with my own List of Top Ways to Cut Overhead:

8 Ways to Cut Overhead:

  1. Make sure the Owner has two credit cards – personal and business – and stops charging personal items on the business account.
  2. Limit each principal to 1 golf tournament a season.
  3. Eliminate big sporting events, deep-sea fishing excursions, season tickets to the neighborhood team, and kill the box at the alma mater university stadium.
  4. Lower recruiting costs by requiring each professional to join a local professional organization, network, and find the good other professionals in the community by working with them
  5. Do payroll in-house; eliminate the cost of the payroll service; have a fractional CFO to review quarterly statements instead.
  6. Make job-cost reporting and billing a full-time position with an experienced person who can maximize revenue and cash-flow
  7. Hire adequate administrative staff to take the burden off of the professionals so they have more billable hours. Push tasks down to the lowest cost level not up to the highest.
  8. Forget about losing sleep over printing, or other ancillary charges in today’s non-print, cheap communications world. Keep people focused on the project delivery.

Do you have others?  Post them in the comments below and I'll  compile them all for a state-of-the-art article on cutting overhead in SDA Today.

Here's the full listing from PSMJ Resources:

  1. Require all project-related printing to be done outside the firm so vendor invoices can be passed on to clients as reimbursable expenses.
  2. Charge all plots to the client; no free in-house plots.
  3. Eliminate company cars.
  4. Charge computer purchases requested by an individual to his department or to the specific job for which it was requested.
  5. Discontinue in-house lunches.
  6. Limit company-paid professional registrations to one per person per year.
  7. Limit company-paid membership in national organizations to one per person per year.
  8. Eliminate your in-house bookkeeper; use outside service vendors for your payroll.
  9. Shift job-cost reporting, billing, and other accounting functions to the secretary who does it as a part-time, collateral duty.
  10. Use students as part-time employees for deliveries, routine filing, posting of invoices, and other clerical tasks. 



Deborah Gill, CPA, CGMA, CDFA is the Chief Financial Officer at Precision Measurements, Inc. (PMI), a 50+ person land-surveying firm located in Virginia Beach, VA.  Before joining PMI, Deborah was the Director of Business Operations at Clark Nexsen, PC, a 550 person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering, planning, and interior design firm located in VA, NC, GA, and DC. 

Tags:  Accounting  Cost Cutting  Design Administration  Finance  Overhead  Profits 

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Resolutions and Goals

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Updated: Monday, January 11, 2016

The dictionary tells us that a goal is an objective that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve. A resolution is the act, operation, or process of resolving.  Resolutions are the way to obtain the goal. Goals are the end result of the resolution. In order to obtain the goal you must set up a system to achieve the goal.

Here is an example, say your goal is to get a promotion at your job.  You can try to earn the promotion from hard work, loyalty, seniority or you could set a process (system) to obtain it. Perhaps it’s taking classes to further your education or obtaining a certification in that subject area.  If your goal is to complete a marathon, you have to set up a training routine. You certainly can't expect to complete the 26 miles without any time spent training.

What are your goals for the coming year and how will you resolve to obtain them?  

                                                      Monica Hodges is the Office Manager for Barker & Associates in San Antonio, Texas.

                                                      She currently serves as the SDA National President-Elect.


Tags:  Goals  Resolutions  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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The Giving Season

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ah the holidays. Everyone loves the holidays. We take time off from work. Visit with family and friends. Go to parties. Shop for gifts.

By definition a gift is a thing given willingly to someone without payment. A natural ability or talent. Have you ever considered giving the gift of yourself instead of something purchased?  It can be as simple as a handwritten card instead of the standard store bought with prewritten words. Or in today’s world an email or text. You could donate your time to a charitable organization, say a soup kitchen. Perhaps if you are talented enough to know how to play a musical instrument or sew, you could give lessons.

What about giving back to an organization that as given so much to you year after year?

Being a member of a professional organization affords us countless opportunities, from creating professional relationships, career advancement through continuing education, leadership growth, skill development and camaraderie.  We all know in order for organizations to thrive they need members to volunteer, to chair and serve on committees, to sit on boards, locally as well as nationally. 

This season I wonder if you would consider giving the gift of you to your organization.  Volunteer for a leadership role or serve on a committee. What ways can you give the gift of you? 


Monica Hodges is the Office Manager for Barker & Associates in San Antonio, Texas.  

She is the SDA National President-Elect.

Tags:  Give Back  Giving  Volunteer 

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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Leadership.  An intimidating word!  You’ve been hearing your whole life that you should be a leader, not a follower.  But what does being a leader really mean?

Leaders inspire others.  They can identify a problem before it gets out of control. They find a way to connect with others and take them where they need to be.  They are the decision makers.  They show their leadership through results, not talk.  And they know how to achieve goals. A really great leader motivates people to do things they didn’t even know they wanted to do and leaves them with a feeling of personal accomplishment.  They let others shine.

In this world where we are too often more interested in taking the credit then accomplishing the goal, it is difficult to be a good leader.  It’s hard to put the objective ahead of ourselves and let others get the praise.  But if it was easy, everyone would do it. 

John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  SDA embodies this sentiment by providing an opportunity for both to all members.  Who has inspired you?  What leadership role are you motivated to try next?  

Wendy Callahan is the Director of Financial Analysis

with Davis Brody Bond LLP in New York, NY

Tags:  Leader  Leadership  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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