Handling software preferences of clients

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Handling software preferences of clients

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    Leslie B Wagle

    OK this is going to come across as a micro concern, but I told somebody else I would start it. Has anyone run into situations where potential clients are starting to insist on certain software being used….and I’m not talking about in collaborations with other professional offices on CAD platforms. Just your business and even residential type client?

    I have usually gotten below the surface to find out what they “really” need, to be reassuring that I can deliver a competent service and a useable file format…and sure enough, they are fine with what I offer if given some portfolio examples. But taking them literally would have meant eliminating myself from consideration. The example below is the easiest to explain but there are other cases where the client prospect has just heard of a product used on a particular rendering or another job context and wants that result, not understanding what matters is in the hands of the practitioner. The client unless a professional needing collaboration, maybe shouldn’t even be trying to specify products used by the designer, but you have to respect there could be a valid hidden reason. It could be, for facilitating passing the work along in a sequential process to other offices, or use in a sophisticated publication. On a downside, it could be like specifying dental tools rather than looking at the overall effectiveness and patient satisfaction achieved by the dentist.

    So here is the theory: What may have happened in the “lay person’s” mind is that they have heard of “SketchUp” and they think it is some kind of fast concept SKETCH and so they specify it. The catchy name has messed up the market! It doesn’t hint at being a kind of demanding modeling (probably seen by client applied to building design) type software. And that is worth scratching the surface to find out (as diplomatically as possible without looking like you want to just do what you find easy and comfortable). Same may go for even needing digital vs. hand illustration at an even more basic level. Some stages are stil used in offices, and could save the client costs or offer more ideas for study in less time, if he was told an alternative path.


    Yes, it’s becoming pretty common in large government and commercial work for the client to request digital deliverables in particular formats. This usually has to do with facility management and GIS databases. Even in these cases though, it’s usually a simple conversation with the client to determine what they are trying to accomplish and how you can deliver in an alternative format and still meet there needs. I have had residential clients request Sketchup and Photoshop files. I just charge an additional fee for those deliverables and provide them upon final payment and completion of contract. The majority of the time, the residential clients arrived at this request because they were shopping around and had been told that they would be given these things by a competitor. When they realize they just want a pretty picture of their project and would not be able to use the aforementioned file formats, they drop the request. I frequently have contractors request in progress CAD files. I typically do not do that unless they have a very specific reason for it, sending PDFs or prints instead. Usually, they just want to do take offs or develop some documents that need to show plot boundaries, etc. When I tell them that I can provide the take offs automatically or some of the exhibits they need, they lose interest in the design files and happily pay for additional doc prep. I think you said already, but figuring out the reason for the request usually solves any potential issues. Plus it can lead to additional services 🙂

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