5 Keys to Delivering Better AEC Projects: Empower Key Stakeholders with Insights

AEC firms drive their business forward by winning more projects and delivering better results. Optimizing the firm’s oversight and management of every aspect of the project lifecycle is the best way to achieve the goal – you need to sell yourselves effectively, manage your projects efficiently and account for the organization judiciously. 

To get there, key stakeholders need to be empowered with information telling them how their functional area is performing against its objectives, as well as showing the impact this performance has on business forecasts. Information empowers the stakeholder when it’s timely, accurate, digestible – and, most of all, actionable.  

Stakeholders at an AEC firm – who are they and what do they need? 

An AEC firm focuses on managing four functional areas: sales, projects, people, and the organization. In each area, stakeholders require focused measures to gain actionable insight. Here are some of the key metrics these stakeholders use to make decisions: 

Collage displaying stakeholders within a professional services firm

Sales 
Your win rate, pipeline and backlog will help you understand what the organization can expect regarding new business and top line revenue growth. Key metrics from the beginning of the project lifecycle give the firm information that will impact their approach to the market, pricing decisions and staffing levels. 

Service Delivery 
Ensuring on time and on budget project delivery requires the project manager to have immediate access to information such as budget spent, progress made, and effort billed. With the correct information, the project manager can take immediate action and avoid expending out-of-scope effort. As a result, projects become more profitable. 

Finance and Operations 
Meeting the organization’s objectives of revenue growth and improved profitability is made possible through regular monitoring of efficiency measures like revenue leakage and labor write-offs. An accurate and timely view of firmwide financial metrics drives decisions about the pursuit of specific regions, markets, and services – the entire direction of the firm. 

Human Resources and Talent Management 
For a professional services firm, nothing has a more dramatic impact on the current and future health of the company than employee attrition. Statistics show that it takes a firm more than 75 days to recruit and hire a new employee. Knowing where your firm stands when compared to peer firms informs you as to your firm’s effectiveness in the competitive labor market.  

Enabling data-driven decisions: Management dashboards 

In aec360 by HSO, we’ve developed data models that are not only specific to the AEC industry but are also specific to each of these functional areas. Role-based dashboards are designed to turn data into decision criteria. With that, we empower our stakeholders with information they need to make intelligent business decisions and drive the business forward.  

The screenshot below shows an example of a Regional Manager’s role-based dashboard.

An example of a role-based dashboard

In a typical dashboard, a graph or chart may give the stakeholder an overview of what is currently happening in their functional area. They can drill-down to explore the layer of history that uncovers why this is happening. Then, the dashboard uses predictive analytics to take that historical data and predict what will happen going forward. 

Knowing the present situation, how you got there and what will happen going forward, is the foundation for the stakeholder’s next business decision and action step. 

Role-based Information – Practice Manager Dashboard example 

For a Practice Manager, the role requires completely different information to gain insight into this functional area. Key practice level metrics are delivered with visualizers to clearly describe the current state of the practice.  

A sample of a practice manager dashboard showing the current state of the practice

The Practice Manager needs to react to measures in several areas across the entire organization.  

  • Is the firm hitting its revenue target? The Practice Manager may consider taking the step of adjusting the price or changing the profile of an acceptable opportunity in a go/no-go process.  
  • Is the cash cycle healthy? It may take too long to adjust client bills, so the Practice Manager would investigate streamlining the bill approval process. 
  • Are people fully utilized and billable? Issues with this could prompt the Practice Manager to emphasize resource management in the organization and get further involved in the process.  

With role-based dashboards, it’s an iterative process. The dashboard provides feedback as to the effectiveness of the stakeholder’s decisions and actions, allowing them to refine their approach.  

In summary, each functional area in an AEC firm has processes that generate a lot of data. Each of them needs that data turned into meaningful information. Information empowers the stakeholder when it’s timely, accurate, digestible and, most of all, actionable. This insight supports intelligent business decisions that stakeholders in the firm make to meet the company’s objectives.  

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