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An Interview with Michael Ibbeson, Co-Founder and CEO of Structa LLP.
When your business is made up of experienced, talented engineers, you naturally want to do your best to empower them. And when your people need the latest and greatest digital tools to do their best work, that can mean pivoting from a focus on your core industry to becoming a hybrid technology company.
This was the situation Structa found itself in. A structural, civil and geo-environmental engineering consultancy firm, Structa's purpose is to develop and harness their engineering expertise, to create a sustainable legacy for those who construct and inhabit the built environment. But to achieve this, the firm knew it needed to blend its engineering project management expertise with an uncompromising approach to digital innovation.
At a recent Deltek Roundtable event, we spoke with Michael Ibbeson, co-founder and CEO of Structa LLP, to learn how the firm established and maintains an unwavering approach to engineering project management by maximizing technology. Ibbeson also shared how that's helped the firm achieve new levels of efficiency, visibility and success as a result of a focused technology strategy.
From concrete and steel to bytes and insights
"Data, for us, is something that we never used to deal with," says Ibbeson. "We're engineers, we design concrete and steel and things like that. So it's been an interesting journey to really start to work with data."
Before its digital turnabout, Structa’s managers found themselves relying on intuition to coordinate teams across three offices. Ibbeson explains: "We were relying a lot on gut feel. There was a feeling that we were flying blind. We didn't really know what was ahead of us. It was very difficult to see where we were, and where we were going."
And even when the business had reliable data to work from, it would often have clashing sources or inconsistencies that stood in the way of decision-making. "Sometimes you'd have conflicting information," says Ibbeson. "One person would have a spreadsheet; one person would have something different."
Structa already had a pedigree in delivering project-focused digital tools for its employees as part of its technology strategy. But it wanted to take this approach even further, so it began expanding its technology ecosystem to include solutions for managers and firm leaders – backed up by Deltek ERP.
“We developed strong engineering project management systems built around a Deltek ERP”
– Michael Ibbeson, co-founder and CEO, Structa LLP
Expanding technology to support engineering project management processes
"If you want a job done well, you've got to give your people the right tools," explains Ibbeson. For a time, this approach was mainly aimed at Structa's engineers, offering them hybrid cloud environments, cloud-based storage, and remote access to powerful workstations – all with high levels of software availability and performance to help people fulfill their roles to the best of their ability.
Structa brings the same level of care and attention to how it delivers projects to clients, with a cloud-based delivery and document distribution system, combined with a flexible approach. "We also use a client's preferred platforms if a project has that particular requirement. I think that's why we're considered a reliable, trustworthy partner."
The next step was to expand this approach to also give firm leaders the tools they needed to get reliable, consistent insights. "We developed strong engineering project management systems built around a Deltek ERP," says Ibbeson. "After introducing our new systems to the business, we aligned our management processes and improved our decision-making."
Never Compromise on Technology: Virtual Roundtable
Leading A&E firms, Structa LLP and GA Group demonstrate the benefits they’ve experienced from Deltek ERP
No technology compromises. No limits to insight and visibility.
Clustered around Deltek’s core project and financial management solution, Structa augments insights by integrating powerful business intelligence and performance management tools. "We're using these tools to help us understand and visualize the data that sits within our ERP system," says Ibbeson.
Ibbeson and his team now get deeper insights into opportunities and available resources, and can better predict what lies ahead. And Structa can quickly process that data to create visual dashboards for the firm's leadership team. As Ibbeson summarizes: "It all comes together so that we can see ahead into the future, not just using how we feel things are going, but actually being able to see data in real time and visualize."
This is a significant improvement for Structa's leadership and operations teams, but it's somehow not the biggest single benefit for the business. "It's the billing process that has arguably benefitted most since deploying Deltek," explains Ibbeson. "It removes the need to manually generate up to 250 invoices a month."
With more streamlined processes and greater insight into metrics like proposal win rates, Structa can also enhance processes over time to more accurately bill and increase profitability. "We can go in and look at those initial proposals," says Ibbeson. "And we can ask, 'how many of them are we winning by count? How many of them are we winning by fee? How many proposals do we have out there at the moment? Why are we losing work? Are we losing it because our price is too high?'”
“Deltek helps us manage our business,” Ibbeson summarizes. “It gives us confidence. We're confident that we know what the next few months look like, and we don't just ‘feel it’ or have an idea. We can see it for real. A number of granules of data are added together to give us a clear, transparent vision of how the business is performing.”
What could you do with a no-compromise approach to your technology strategy?
By building a solid digital foundation based on a considered technology strategy, Structa enhances insights, optimizes resource allocation and pricing, and streamlines processes across its distributed offices. And while there’s undoubtedly a long road to digital success, any firm can achieve the benefits – provided they build around the right technological core.
To learn more about how Structa achieves digital success without compromise, watch the full Deltek Roundtable webinar.
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About the Company
Structa is a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, working for private and public sector clients, on projects ranging for bespoke homes through to major regeneration or new housing schemes for leading housebuilders and commercial clients.
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