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How Can the OAA’s Practice Advisory Services Help You?

Learning about Services and Resources Available to Members

The recent Member and Practice Surveys have been invaluable in helping the OAA understand its strengths and which areas it needs to focus its improvement. Results from the two surveys show the Association’s suite of Practice Advisory Services (PAS) tools and resources continue to be one of the most valued services offered by the OAA to its members.

The surveys showed a relative increase of 24 per cent in general member satisfaction with respect to the OAA from the last census conducted in 2011. In an opened-ended question, Practice Advisory Services—specifically the PAS Hotline, Practice Tips, and RFP Alerts—were highlighted positively by those who were generally satisfied. However, there is always room for improvement, and we are working to respond to concerns cited for a need for more education around specific practice issues or tools and resources that already exist.

An overwhelming 87 per cent of members who participated in the survey indicated that they were likely to recommend peers or friends in the profession to contact the OAA’s PAS team as a resource for practice-related issues. At the heart of this team is architect Mélisa Audet, Manager of Practice Advisory Services, and retired architects Allen Humphries and Colm Murphy, Practice Advisors. They are all supported by Administrative Assistant, Gaynor Kim-Sing.

One of most used services is the PAS Hotline. The service is utilized by practitioners from large and small firms as well as individual members and interns who contact the Practice Advisors for advice on practice-related issues. Since 2007, the number of monthly calls to the hotline shows consistent growth, reflecting the importance of this service to membership; the current average is more than 3000 calls or emails annually, including calls from clients, building officials, and lawyers.

The PAS Hotline also allows the OAA to track recurring questions on specific topics. This helps highlight the need for further consideration of those issues by the appropriate OAA Committees, and are often the basis for advice in other PAS resources like the Practice Tips and the Practice Advisory newsletter.

In addition to the hotline, other major activities of PAS include advice on standard contract language and client-originated supplementary conditions; development of standard documents (e.g. OAA 600), templates and checklists, and providing advice on Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for architectural services, including contacting the procurement authorities with recommended revisions to promote the concept of value to consultant procurement in order to find the best-qualified architect.

Where issues with RFPs are of serious regulatory concern, PAS will issue RFP Alerts, which have assisted many firms in making their ‘go or no-go’ decisions and have also produced positive changes from client groups. It has drawn the attention of owners from larger institutions that influence the industry through precedent of their actions and documents.

The previously mentioned Practice Tips are produced by PAS in conjunction with the OAA Practice Resource Committee, which includes Architects and Licensed Technologists OAA. Practice Tips provide guidance on issues affecting the daily practice of architecture. They support architects by helping them apply ‘best practices’ to meet the standards of the profession.

The OAA’s Subcommittee on Building Codes and Regulations (SCOBCAR) also operates under the Practice Advisory portfolio. It was established to maintain the architectural profession’s influence in the development of building codes and regulations in order to ensure public interest and safety is paramount, and the architectural profession continues to be solely responsible for its own self-regulation. This Committee, made up of architects, is at the centre of the OAA’s participation on both federal and provincial building code consultations.

If you have a practice question, do not hesitate to contact an OAA Practice Advisor for guidance on challenges, to confidentially discuss, or receive advice on regulatory requirements and best practices. Nothing discussed with PAS will initiate any disciplinary action by the OAA.