To maintain client satisfaction and develop new business, professional services firms must deliver quality projects on time and within the designated budget. Unfortunately, delivering quality projects is often a challenge, especially when managing multiple large-scale projects simultaneously.
Accurately tracking the progress of projects is one of the keys to delivering better AEC projects. The most referenceable clients are those that have their projects delivered on time and on budget. So constantly staying in tune with how your project is progressing every step of the way will help you win more business. Once again, for AEC firms it’s all about profitable projects and happy clients.
What is Project Progress?
There are different flavors of measuring project progress. Here are the three most important measures to track:
- Project Manager’s (PM) Progress: The percentage of work that has been completed on the project.
- Billing Progress: The percentage of the contract that has been billed to date.
- Revenue Progress: The percentage of the contract value that’s been recognized as revenue.
At any point in time, these may all be the same. But for a variety of reasons, they may differ over the life of the project. The PM’s assessment of progress may drive the other two measures, so let’s focus on that.
How can you accurately track the progress of your AEC projects?
From a project manager’s perspective, there are two critical factors to track on any project – what has already been done, and what is left to do. Due to the complex nature of AEC projects and the individual tasks involved in the larger effort, tracking completion percentage is not always easy.
aec360 Project Operations from HSO offers a clear view of a project’s real-time status and trend information. The screen shot below demonstrates the information a PM is given to assess the current status of the project.
In this view of aec360’s Project Operations software, the PM can see how the project is trending. With Planned Effort, they see how much time is projected to complete the task based on their original plan. Actuals will be automatically populated to show how much Effort was expended by the project staff. Then, the system will show the PM the percent complete – the actual Effort divided by the Planned Effort.
With this, the PM can see the Estimate to Complete (ETC) – the remaining effort based on the plan. But what if things aren’t going according to plan? The PM considers what it’s really going to take to finish the task and if it’s going to take more time, they update the ETC. And at the end of it all, the system tells the PM the new Estimate at Completion (EAC). This is their new reality.
Giving project managers insight into a project’s financial progress
Project managers play a vital role in helping to optimize an AEC firm’s actual revenue – keeping a project on schedule while limiting internal costs helps to maximize that revenue.
Giving your project managers even greater insight into a projects financial progress will help them drive the project with an eye on revenue.
A great way to look at the financial impact of tracking progress in relation to the project plan is through Earned Value Management. The screen shot below shows how the system uses the PM’s update of the ETC to produce a graph of the financial progress of the project.
When we look at Earned Value, we want to catch a snapshot of the project’s progress at various points in time. This gives the project manager a great idea of when the project deviates from the plan according to various measures. The inflection point of any of these lines provides the insight the project manager needs to steer the project back on plan – or least stop it from going further off track and putting profitability in jeopardy.
For example, when Earned Value (EV) and Planned Value (PV) start to separate, the project manager might ask themselves, “are we doing work that is out of the project’s original scope? Will we have to write-off some time?” It’s time for them to investigate what’s going on and adjust the approach to compensate.
This insight can help the project manager drive projects that not only amaze customers but also provide the maximum revenue for your firm.
Effective AEC project tracking can help you deliver better projects and improve revenue
aec360 Project Operations, from HSO, provides the PM with a great tool to track the project’s progress and monitor productive and potentially unproductive time. Minimizing out of scope effort will reduce unearned time that is charged to the project and leads to a more profitable result. That’s great for your firm. It will also lead to finishing the project on-time and on-budget, and that’s great for your client! Interested in learning more about aec360? Contact us today.
Read our next article in the series on how to maximize collaboration and communication.