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Celebrating our National Volunteers

Posted By SDA Headquarters, Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Updated: Friday, April 24, 2020

It's National Volunteer Week. We have been featuring our volunteers on our social media pages this week and wanted to give them a shout out here too! Thanks you all for what you do to help SDA share the great news about education and best practices in A/E/C operations each and every day. If you would like to serve on a national committee, contact SDA Headquarters and we will get you started!







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Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Posted By SDA Headquarters, Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Happy Administrative Professionals Day! Please take a few minutes and enjoy the video from SDA National President Brooke Simcik, CDFA. Be sure to read the message below to all SDA members as well.

To All,

Administrative Professionals Day is a day to reflect on our careers, professional development, and appreciation for those we work with, and honestly, our own accomplishments and lessons learned too.  We have seen so many successes over the past year from our members and their firms.  It is an honor that SDA has the opportunity to represent so many accomplished professionals.

Sure, there have been challenges, and the way I see it, we are one day closer to one of our best years ever!  History has proven that the business professionals within the A/E/C industry are a force to be reckoned with, and together, nothing can stop us from achieving our goals.  We are the steam to the engine in this fast-paced world.

Cheers to all our SDA associates.  We appreciate all that you do, we applaud all of your accomplishments, and we look forward to a bright and fantastic future together.

Happy Administrative Professionals Day To All!


Brooke Simcik, CDFA
SDA National President
On behalf of the SDA National Executive Committee 2019-2020

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Why It Is Important to be a Role Model

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 20, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Role models are important because they help guide us in the right direction as we make life decisions, they provide inspiration and support when we need it, and they offer their experiences with similar obstacles or struggles.  Throughout our lives, we will have several different role models, from our parents and coaches to peers and bosses.  These people are integral influences in our lives and our careers.  So how do you know if you are a role model?  And why is it important?

There is no ceremony commemorating one’s transition into a “role model.”  Often times, this is a gradual transition that seamlessly happens throughout the years.  A Canstruction team member who becomes a team captain, who then joins the event planning committee and eventually chairs the event.  Another example could be someone who participates regularly with local Habitat for Humanity events and then steps up to serve as leader with a local build event like Carter Work Project.  Both of these examples allow for one-on-one connections between those in leadership positions and others, but also the connection between that individual and the organization as a whole.  Have you found yourself serving on a public or community service organization board?  Have you helped make significant sustained contributions to that organization?  Then you are a role model.

A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.[1]    When we are younger, we look up to our role models for inspiration and use this as a blueprint for how to achieve success and happiness.  It’s important for SDA members to serve as role models because it will help each member continue their personal and professional growth, continue to practice model behavior, and guide future generations of leaders.  Role models are not perfect, they are human, and they make mistakes.  Don’t be afraid to step up and explore the benefits you gain from serving others.  You may be surprised how much you get back in return. 

One of the criteria to become an SDA Fellow is to be a role model.  Have you discovered that you already are a role model and didn’t even know it?  If so, you may be eligible to submit for the 2021 Fellows Class.  If you haven’t taken that step to serve as a role model yet, evaluate your opportunities to do so in order to continue your leadership path and maximize your growth potential.




Sarah Wallace, FSDA is the Chair of the SDA Fellows and is a member of the SDA Atlanta Chapter. 


Tags:  Role Model  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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How CFOs Can Tackle the COVID-19 Financial Risk

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Friday, April 3, 2020

What can senior finance leaders do to manage these headwinds?  The construction industry is still considered an essential business in most states and construction companies need A|E firms to continue with their services to stay on schedule many times, so there shouldn’t be any problems, right?  Probably not, especially here in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.  The A|E|C community depends on the government — federal, state, and local — as a client.  While construction companies can still work, the City of Virginia Beach is examining what construction projects it can delay, so at some point, the delays are going to filter down to the A|E community.  This is similar to what occurred in the 2008 recession.  It really did not hit the A|E community hard until 2010.  The government’s response to the crisis with an economic stimulus package has been much quicker this time, however.

Three suggestions that may help your company:

1.      Conduct scenario planning and stress tests.  If you’re going to have to close down for 3 months, what is that going to look like cash-wise?  If 40% of your work is municipal, and the municipalities cut 40% of their next fiscal year’s projects, how are you going to replace that revenue?  Start conducting what-ifs and solutions to replace the revenue.  Maybe looking at more commercial projects may be a short-term solution.  Not hiring and trying to ride it out with the present staff in order to NOT have to let people go might be another.  In the 2008 recession, firms suddenly wanted to get on the government bandwagon because the commercial market had dried up, but most decided too late. It takes time to establish a new client, project type, or change your business model.  Diversity is good in any economy.

2.     Focus on key customers.  Understand your contracts and the commitments you have made.  If you are in the design|build arena, you know construction is driven by schedules.  Understand how having a quarter of your staff out for COVID-19 related absences — sick, childcare — may affect your ability to meet milestones, and work to minimize those delays.  Contact your clients, officially in some instances, that you may have a delay that will affect schedules. 

3.     Get a jump on cash flow.  Recalculate 1. how much cash you need to keep your business afloat. Here are a few ideas to consider:

·        Line of Credit. Lots of firms are going to be looking to max-out their lines of credit.  Contact your banker and discuss this to ensure lines of credit remain available.  Be prepared to handle the fact that if your line of credit is not now personally guaranteed and if you ask for a larger amount, the bank may look for a personal guarantee from the owners, at least temporarily.

·        Factoring Companies. Look for alternative sources of cash.  There are factoring companies for your accounts receivable, but you need to get in touch with them now.  Your bank loan officer is a good source for a lead on a company.

·        Owners personal cash reserves. Owners need to reexamine their own personal cash reserves, too, and assess the liquidity of any assets they may need to count on for cash.

·        Stay on top of Accounts Receivable.  Do not let this slide.

Read the entire article by downloading the attached file.  Share your comments below on what your firm is doing to manage the financial risks during the COVID19 pandemic.

Special thanks to Deborah Gill, CPA, FSDA from SDA Hampton Roads Chapter for sharing this article.

 Attached Files:

Tags:  Cash Flow  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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First, Fire All the Administrators? Here's Why That's Bad Advice.

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Updated: Thursday, March 26, 2020

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on UnsplashThe gut reaction in some A/E firms is to first ‘fire all the administrators,’ a statement made by Frank Stasiowski in an article advising on how to get through the 2008-11 recession.  Here is why that’s bad advice.

Now, more than ever, administrators have specific skills and duties that are always necessary, such as project administration, spec preparation, payroll, finance, as well as the specialized software knowledge to manage all of those functions such as Newforma, Vision, Ajera, Masterspec, and Quickbooks.  They’re also the ones who maintain a relationship with your bank’s loan officer for your line of credit, manage your Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable. So why would they be the first to go?  The business of architecture and engineering has become much more complicated since 2011.  Keeping the business personnel in your office allows you, the design professionals, to do what you do best--design.  Isn’t your time better spent reaching out to clients, asking if they’re in need of anything, such as help on scheduling issues, coordinating with other consultants or construction firms on their behalf, rather than collecting timesheets and making sure the billing still goes out?  Your business personnel are the ones with existing knowledge and relationships with the bank and insurance companies.  The first thing that happens in a down economy is construction companies start filing lawsuits. That’s when you need access to A|E business networks like SDA.  Why spend your valuable time trying to get up to speed in any one of those areas?  The COVID19 virus pandemic is a marathon not a sprint, and just as it is hard to find good architects and engineers (heck any architects and engineers), it is very hard to find an administrator who knows Vision or Ajera.  Ask more of your administrators, yes, just like you’re going to ask more of your technical personnel to compensate for possibly sick personnel or family members but maintain your staff levels.  Everyone in your firm is probably more capable than you think, when asked to step up.  Let’s all step up together.     

Share the Pain. Wouldn’t it be fairer for everyone to take a 10-15% pay cut or reduce everyone’s hours by 10% and keep the family that is your firm working hand in hand to overcome this challenge?  Come August or September when things start getting back to normal and everyone is in a rush with accelerated schedules, do you really want to spend time and energy hiring and training new people?  The new OASDI or social security tax relief passed today will provide you with some relief. The example below shows that the new legislation just passed could save you $120,000 or the salary of at least 2 or 3 of your lowest paid employees for a 20-person firm.    

$5,000,000 gross revenue

$3,000,000 net revenue

$2,100,000 labor expenses

$1,575,000 labor expenses last 3 quarters

$120,488 7.65% of labor – savings under new tax relief

And, you also do not want your unemployment coefficient to go up because your fired employees file for unemployment.  The these firings will follow you for three years into the future. 

Think long-term.  Some of the strategic planning tasks administrative staff can be working on:

  • Have marketing brush off or write a 5-year marketing plan.  Research new project types you’re interested in pursuing
  • Have accounting write up accounting manuals – especially in the event this crisis lasts longer than we think. There are no accounting manuals for Ajera, Vision, or QB out there.
  • Have human resources keep up with all available information on the business aspects and effects of the COVID19 virus.  Examine your employee handbook and note any policies that are in discrepancy with practices you’ve implemented to adapt to the situation. Write a pandemic policy for now and the future.
  • Clean up those databases, libraries, storage unit, employee files, plan files
  • Develop standards for CADD.
  • Emphasize over-looked training and new certifications that will position individuals and the firm in a better place when the pandemic ends.  

Take the Lead.  Show your clients and employees you have the business savvy to weather this storm.

What are your firms doing to weather the storm? Share your ideas in the comment box below.




Deborah Gill, CPA, FSDA is the Owner of Profit by Design in Norfolk, VA

Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration  Staff Retention 

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