ANTHONY NG ARCHITECTS LIMITED: building towards a paperless future 2011
BSM920 Topics in Advanced Strategy
Since the 1970s, the architectural industry in Hong Kong enjoyed a brilliant growth as a result of real estate and stock market speculation. In 1996, the industry was very profit-oriented and time conscious, and heavy bureaucracy was one of the main characteristics of the market. The role of the government and others institutions such as the HKIA (Hong Kong Institute of Architects) are essential in the Hong Kong architectural industry. Anthony Ng is an architect from Hong Kong who started his own architectural practice in 1991 in Wan Chai. Thanks to his visionary and entrepreneurial leadership qualities, he succeeded in making Anthony Ng a practice able to deliver buildings on time while providing top designs. The firm has been selected for big projects such as the Verbana Heights and most recently the HK$ 12 billion new airport development project in Tung Chung. These big projects created new needs for the company in order to improve its performance. First the number of employees needed to be increased, but with that the management of information and communication also needed to be improved. Indeed, the number of persons involved in the project and so the number of documents needed to be forwarded, distributed and stored was consequent. A technological improvement of the communication system became a necessity; in 1997 Anthony Ng recognised the future potential of using a paperless system which would then improve the circulation of information and knowledge in the company.
2. Towards a paperless architectural practice
Internal pressures Inhouse Transaction costs economics
Physical storage of documents in the office of Anthony Ng was an important cost for the company. First of all, it was costing time as the tracking of the documents could take a certain amount of time depending on when they had been stored. Secondly, the storage space used for documents was big enough to fit 20 employees, and according on how the number of employees was growing throughout the years, the need for space will soon be a priority. Third, the documents filing required personal filing charges as well. Finally, the communication costs were not insignificant around 40 mails were getting in the office every day, documents needed to be photocopied too, and the communication between Anthony’s Ng employees and with clients were costing time and money.
There were for Anthony Ng undeniable in-house transaction costs which needed to be reduced. The paperless strategy imagined by Anthony Ng implied a new document management system, which would then enable the firm to reduce the costs of personal filing. The room used by the central filing storage would disappear and allow the company to increase the number of employees. In the architectural industry and for Anthony Ng, the competitive advantage lie in the creativity and originality of the designs, but the main critical success factor is time. The market is very time conscious as mentioned before. A new document management system would enable Anthony Ng to save time on communication thanks to the use of emails, on documents tracking thanks to the web-browser. By improving their efficiency on the time delivery of project, the practice would avoid minor delays, granting Anthony Ng a competitive advantage, because in 1997 the technology was not widespread yet.
External pressures Institutional Based View
One of the external pressures was coming from the government which plays a huge role in the architectural industry of Hong Kong. The HKIA also plays a huge role as it is responsible for the governance of the professional conduct of architects by making them adhere to Code of Professional Conduct. These institutional pressures come with rules and norms (certification ISO 9000), so the organisations seek for legitimacy and survival by...
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