Juror Robert Yuen’s advice for applying to AN’s Best of Practice

To Crowning the Best

Juror Robert Yuen’s advice for applying to AN’s Best of Practice

CEO and cofounder of Monograph Robert Yuen is a juror for Best of Practice 2024

Robert Yuen is the CEO and cofounder of Monograph, a software company that organizes and streamlines performance and management for architecture and engineering firms. As a result, he has become a leading voice in the AEC industry, promoting the importance of business performance and helping firms improve their workflows and profitability. It’s no wonder then that Yuen—who also studied architecture as well as architecture and technology—is a juror for 2024’s Best of Practice Awards, which seeks to crown the best companies in the AEC industry.

To get a better sense of what makes a practice award-winning, AN spoke to Yuen about what he’s looking for in this year’s applicants. Read the interview to get his advice and apply for Best of Practice before the deadline on April 19. Also, in case you missed it, check out what juror Susan Jones is looking for in applications.

AN: What inspired you to cofound Monograph? How did the idea come about?

Robert Yuen (RY): As a trained architect, I’ve experienced many of the common challenges that plague the practice first-hand. What inspired me then and continues to inspire me today is that I find great joy in helping the industry build, grow, and manage their businesses effectively.

The idea for Monograph came in 2018 when my cofounders and I noticed many firms struggling to monitor their business performance accurately. The tracking systems that were in place often failed to integrate data effectively, relying on outdated systems and disjointed spreadsheets, which effectively made information on projects, budgets, time, and clients both unusable and unreliable.

We began by addressing the simple problem of tracking an architect’s time and rate throughout the duration of a phase, which allowed firms to easily see all of this in one chart. We incorporated in 2019 and, since then, our mission has been to always be in service to architects and engineers. We continue to do that by empowering them with financial literacy and a dedicated operating system for their business.

AN: What are some of your favorite accomplishments with Monograph?

RY: In just under 5 short years, we’ve grown to support over 1,200 firms daily, managing more than 9,000 architects, engineers, and employees. This is an incredible milestone, and a testament to our team’s hard work as Monograph strives to become an end-to-end operating system for the entire industry.

From the perspective of our product, I’m proud that our team has continued to add new solutions to improve our customer’s business operations. In addition to our core project management product, we’ve also added Monograph Payments which helps architects get invoices paid faster and Monograph Payroll to help our customers run payroll seamlessly. These two new product lines allow our customers to accurately track profitability and utilization rates instantly, in real-time. The only one in the industry!

All that being said, I’m most privileged to continue growing our company from 3 to 50+ employees today in a way that celebrates excellence, transparency, and holds a very high bar for a people-first culture.

AN: What are the types of things that you’re looking for in Best of Practice applications?

RY: I’m both excited and honored to serve as a juror, as I believe these awards exemplify the growing promise of the industry. As someone who transitioned from being a trained architect to the CEO of a technology startup for architects, I plan to take a comprehensive approach in reviewing the applications. This includes assessing business excellence through their social and financial impacts. Given the wide range of categories and regions, it will be fascinating to see how design, culture, and performance vary across typologies.

AN: What advice do you have for people filling out their submissions?

RY: As architects, we understand the critical importance of visual representation and image selection. Experience with competitions and portfolios teaches us that sequencing and storytelling through representation are crucial.

But I would also stress the importance of the 500-word statement to help paint a picture of how the firm is positioned relative to financial, project, and employee performance. And, to the best of your ability, add a one-page client testimonial to help focus our attention on the impacts of your work.

Best of Practice submissions are open until April 19. Learn more about eligibility, see the full list of categories, and start applications here.