The best buildings are generally designed by the best architects — however you choose to define “best” — but it is not always true that the best architects are appointed to the projects. Winning work is not only about being good at design — and sometimes that hardly figures at all. In today’s competitive market any practice that wants to succeed has to have a well thought out strategy for winning work and — if it is to remain solvent — a way to avoid losing too often.

Entering any competitive situation is expensive in terms of money and also of time. Entering competition A means not entering competition B, or not doing as good a job as one could on project C. This white paper sets out to help practices take a strategic approach to winning work. It starts by explaining the competitive landscape and the changes that are likely to come. Then it offers advice on deciding the direction that the practice should take, on how to network and become known, and on how to decide which competitions and competitive situations to enter.

Once a practitioner decides to go ahead, they need to know how to fill in the paperwork to maximise their chances of success, and how to behave at interview. Even with all this assistance, no practitioner can expect a hit rate of 100%. But do not despair: this white paper also looks at ways to turn a loss — or more especially a near miss — today, into a win tomorrow. Finally, in recognition of the opportunities that our increasingly international professional world offers, we look at what is needed to win work both in Europe and further afield.

To produce this white paper we have talked to many architects in practices of a range of sizes. Much of the direction for the work was set by an advisory panel comprising Simon Erridge, director at Bennetts Associates, Joe Morris, co-founder of Duggan Morris, and Greg Penoyre of Penoyre & Prasad. We are also grateful to Malcolm Reading, who has run many competitions on behalf of clients, for his help.

We also surveyed BD readers about the number of Ojeu notices they respond to, the costs of bidding and their attitudes to working abroad. The response was fantastic and the results are included in the white paper. Case studies of practices and of competitions have been written by the team at Building Design, and the main sections have been researched and written by architectural writer Ruth Slavid. Amanda Baillieu, editor in chief of BD, has edited the white paper to ensure it is as valuable and focused to the needs of practices as possible.

Too many architects feel that they never get the chance to display their talents, because they do not win the work that would enable them to do so. This white paper should help to redress the balance by offering practical and focused advice on winning work — the most vital element in any practice’s success.

Look out for a new extract from the report next week on building awareness with clients.