Keys to Delivering Better AEC Projects: Build Accurate Service Estimates

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 dealing with multiple teams, timelines and data streams.

There are several factors architecture, engineering and construction firms should focus on when considering project planning. By considering these factors, your AEC firm can build the optimal foundation for project success and chart a path towards better project delivery.  

Project success begins with accurate service estimates.

For an AEC firm, every successful project starts with an accurate service estimate. Without an accurate service estimate, cost overruns, low profitability, negative client interactions and project delays are inevitable.  

Clearly the best time to do conduct a service estimate is right at the start, optimally during the sales cycle. When you think about it, this is the main intersection between your sales and delivery teams. Ensuring that all teams are on the same page, with the same plan will help you deliver on your client promises. Proactive service estimates during the sales cycle also help to reduce change orders or awkward conversations with clients over the approval of additional funding.

A well-managed AEC firm will have a structure to the service estimate process. They will have developed a methodology, supported by a tool that provides well defined roles and, when possible, standardized bill rates. They will use their experience on similar projects and see what they were truly able to bill on those projects. The correct tool should enable an AEC firm to automatically take the proposed scope and transition it into an actual, revenue producing project, streamlining the project initiation process and eliminating any potential estimate errors or missed details.

How do you manage your service estimates?

Accurate service estimates are crucial to the success of any project, and in turn, the success of your AEC firm. Leaving these mission critical estimates to chance or tackling them manually is far too risky.

If you haven’t already moved your service estimate process to a digital tool, it’s time to do so. The streamlined estimates and enhanced accuracy these tools provide are well worth the investment.

HSO ProServ enables clients to conduct accurate and efficient service estimates by implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Power Operations. Leveraging the power of Dynamics 365, Power Operations combines data and functionality needed to optimize the estimates process. The tool integrates multiple work and data streams to streamline time tracking, simplify resource utilization and enhance project management. 

Using Project Operations, you can build up project phases and tasks, or deliverables, and any dependencies that we might have between them. You can also define the roles and resources needed for the project, as well as any required characteristics of those roles. Along with the required roles, and the associated rates, the system tells us the estimated effort that we will expend and automatically calculates the estimated cost and revenue for the project.

Using the tool, you can outline start and end dates and the level of effort to complete that task or deliverable. Building up this plan during the sales process gives you the basis for an accurate and informed project estimate, as well as the baseline plan after you win the work and look to transition into project delivery. It’s all set up and ready to go.

And then the next question becomes, is this project going make money or not? Based on the data and project details, Project Operations provides a real-time view of what your projected project gross margin will be.

Right from the start, you can tell how much profit you stand to make if this project is executed as outlined. You can also adjust the financial profile of the project by either role applied, or timeframe involved to affect the anticipated profit.

The next step for the estimate is to merge this into a personalized project quote or proposal document that can be delivered to your client. When you win the project (and you will win!) you can take this work and transition it into the actual project and carry it forward into the execution stage.

HSO Proserv’s Project Operations enables your firm to develop accurate service estimates during the sales process. You’ll know if the project will be profitable, you’ll have fewer change orders…and happier clients!

Stay tuned for the next post in our series focused on delivering better projects.

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