Williams Blackstock Architects Streamlines Site Management Processes with Deltek ArchiSnapper

February 09, 2023
Williams Blackstock Architects

We talked with Matt Foley, Principal at Williams Blackstock Architects, a 50-person firm based in Birmingham, Alabama. This innovative firm offers architecture, interior design, and planning services—as well as environmental graphics and branding.

Most of Williams Blackstock Architects’ work comes from repeat clients or responses to RFQs. “We focus on providing a high level of service for our clients. We listen to our clients and put our creativity to work to deliver unique value that keeps them coming back,” Foley explains. “Doing a great job for our clients is the best way to generate new business in the future.”

To improve the service the firm offers its clients, Foley is trying to focus more on improving processes, procedures, and training—increasing the efficiency of the team, improving quality control and mitigating omissions.

“We’re not as standardized as we should be in terms of design templates, training standards, software adoption and construction administration systems,” Foley explains. “We need to fine tune awareness, communication and training. And then, once we have that foundation, we can introduce more integrated workflows that will improve our design process and deliver more value to clients.”

Adopting the right technology and processes can transform project-based businesses, improve operations, and even win more work over time. But managing digital transformation on top of client projects can be difficult. In fact, the 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Report found that only 3% of firms currently describe their digital transformation maturity as advanced.

Keeping up with technology is a challenge faced by many firms in the architecture and engineering (AE) industry, including Williams Blackstock Architects.

“Technology is changing at a rapid pace, whether it's new applications that you haven't used before, or even if it's the software that you've used for years – it is constantly evolving,” Matt Foley tells us. “Keeping up with that can help you be more efficient and produce better work. But even if you do have people dedicated to that, you still must implement the software and get people to use it and help them get maximum value out of it. That requires a lot of effort, energy, and repetition. It is a challenge.”

Streamlining site management processes

One way Williams Blackstock Architects leverages technology to standardize and streamline to process of site inspections, field reports and punch lists, is by using Deltek ArchiSnapper. “We moved to ArchiSnapper because it was geared toward architects,” says Foley. “We can edit the language and templates to match the service we provide—and ArchiSnapper has a lot of graphical flexibility in report design, too. It suits the role that we play in the building industry.”

Although ArchiSnapper is still new to Williams Blackstock Architects, the team is already requesting it on their projects. “When I log on to ArchiSnapper, I can see that people are generating lots of reports on their projects,” Foley explains. “We've gone through a couple of our first punch lists, and we've done some testing and made some improvements to make sure it suits the way we operate. An advantage of using ArchiSnapper is that everyone is using the same templates, so we work in a standardized way and all field reports and punch lists have the same structure and branding. Also, having all the field data in one cloud system is much better than having it spread over Word docs and photos in mailboxes and folders.”

One of the primary projects Williams Blackstock Architects first used ArchiSnapper on was for an adaptive repurposing of a gym to create a community center for senior activities and recreational team sports. Foley tells us: “That was our test project to do field reports and then start using punch lists to track issues and items for that site. ArchiSnapper helped us save a lot of time on this project so we decided to use it on other projects as well.”

In addition to the community center, the inspiring design firm is busy creating spaces that transform the human experience and focus on community advocacy, such as the Children’s of Alabama project, pictured below.

Lee Building Children’s of Alabama – Lee Building & 4th Avenue Parking Deck – Birmingham, Alabama

Three quick wins, thanks to ArchiSnapper

Foley and his team see three clear benefits of using the product:

  1. Ease of use

    “I like that I can just take my phone and walk around the site. It's more convenient. It just feels like you're a lot more nimble in the field.”
  2. Automated field report generation

    “I can snap a bunch of photos and—if I have time—dictate comments for each room on site. Or know that if I don’t have time now, I can easily get to the typing and cleanup later on the web.”
  3. Improved environmental graphics processes

    “We’ve also used ArchiSnapper in environmental graphics, to run reports on existing conditions and then even document a signage plan.”


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