Ask the Experts: How Can Technology Help A&E Firms Overcome Rising Costs and Regulatory Demand?

February 09, 2024
A&E Firms Overcome Rising Costs and Regulatory Demand

We brought together four industry experts to discuss current challenges facing the architecture and engineering industry – and how technology can help tackle them.

It's a turbulent time for architecture and engineering firms. Costs are rising, top talent is difficult to come by and ESG is becoming an increasingly important consideration for every project.

To explore these challenges further, we assembled a panel of industry specialists to discuss the trends they're seeing – and to explore how you can use technology to make your project-based business more resilient and profitable.

Read on to discover the highlights from their discussion.

Our expert panel:

Five Trends Impacting Architecture and Engineering Firms Today

#1 Costs are increasing. And revenue isn't keeping up.

Inflation and interest rates are increasing, and it's having a knock-on effect on material and labor costs. In fact, architecture and engineering firms are seeing increasing costs across everything they're doing, and they can't increase the amount they charge clients at an equivalent rate.

When costs are high and the economy uncertain, it can be difficult to capitalize on new market opportunities or invest in the people, systems and tools that will help you grow.


Over six in ten firms say that they're concerned about the impacts of recession or inflation.

Deltek Clarity A&E Report


#2 Staff shortages are putting pressure on firms.

A shortage of architects, engineers and contractors means those who are working in this industry need to take on more work with fewer resources. Attracting and retaining top talent is a high priority on many firms' agendas. And making sure the people they currently employ have the right skills and experience is also vital.

#3 Sustainability is high on the global agenda.

Sustainability is an important topic for everyone, and architecture and engineering firms are no exception. The increasing number of projects driven by climate adaptation and sustainable construction is opening the door to some excellent opportunities. But ESG compliance brings with it the need to report on and prove how you are keeping up with accelerating sustainability requirements, putting more pressure on firms.

#4 Evolving regulations require records of compliance.

Regulations are becoming increasingly complex, and legislation is evolving all the time. From data and cybersecurity to ESG requirements, architects, engineers and contractors are being asked to do more.

Proving compliance also means recording and storing even more data, which takes time and further increases costs. And with the current staff shortages and economic uncertainty it's adding an extra layer of disruption to projects.

#5 Technological innovation is accelerating.

Investing in new technology is a high priority for a lot of architecture and engineering organizations. Technology could help relieve the pressure of staff shortages, boost efficiency, and simplify compliance.

However, knowing where to invest and how to upskill staff to use new systems poses a challenge of its own.


78% of architecture and engineering organizations plan to invest more in emerging technologies.

Deltek Clarity A&E Report


How Can Technology Help Firms Overcome Industry Challenges?

Technology plays an important role in enabling architecture and engineering firms to do more with fewer resources and handle more complex project requirements.

During the current shortage of talent, technology will play a big role in attracting the workforce of tomorrow. As a new generation of architects and engineers enter the industry, they're looking for firms that embrace technology to improve working life as well as project outcomes.

Technology will also help firms meet growing sustainability requirements. For example, tools exist that can help firms quickly calculate a building's potential carbon footprint based on different material options.


“I think without digital tools, we cannot deliver on global challenges and national challenges like climate change, increasing demands and the staff shortage.”

– Henrik Garver, Managing Director at the Danish Association of Consulting Engineers


But current economic pressure means making the right investments for your firm is crucial. You need a clear strategy for your technology and data stack to ensure it is right for your specific needs.


“Be purposeful in where you use technology and where you don't. The golden rule is always to link it to business value.”

– David Rockhill, Partner at McKinsey & Company


The Technology Powering Architecture and Engineering Project Success

Migration to the cloud continues.

The architecture and engineering industry is still moving towards cloud-based software. By shifting to the cloud, firms can take a plug-and-play approach – using different capabilities to suit each project's specific needs. This gives users access to the latest technology exactly when they need it.

Cloud also gives organizations the agility they need to meet new client demands – fast. Adding a new capability to a cloud-based system is much simpler than re-engineering an on-premise one, helping firms make the most of the latest innovations.


“I see that's where the future is going to be; all of this will be in the cloud. We'll be renting machines rather than paying for them full-time. But it needs to get to the point where it is almost a true consumption subscription model.”

– Simon Jardine, Technology Director at Scott Brownrigg


Artificial intelligence lightens the load for workers.

AI capabilities can automate and enhance common tasks, like using generative tools to ideate or generate design content and free up staff to focus on the creative tasks that add the most value. This is especially helpful when skilled workers are in short supply.


“AI allows people to focus more on the value-added stuff and let the machine focus on that more mundane repetitive stuff. It's a great trend we're seeing.”

– Bret Tushaus, Vice President, Product Management at Deltek


AI can also be used at the front end of projects to allow users to quickly explore options and materials for a design. This means firms can be less reliant on external resources for things like visualizations.

By embracing AI, architecture and engineering firms can deliver projects quicker and bring specialist skills in-house to reduce costs and boost profit margins.

Mobile devices give valuable access to project documents – anywhere.

More and more architecture and engineering firms are making the most of cloud-enabled mobile applications to access and adapt plans and reports while in the field.

Having the ability to view and manage documents and punch lists from a mobile device on a construction site is a huge benefit to project managers. It helps them keep track of progress in real-time and flag any issues to everyone else who is using the application.

Accessing and annotating plans on the go increases efficiency, reduces errors that may occur from an issue being misreported and enables faster and smoother collaboration between everyone working on a project.

For More Insights, Watch the Full Webinar

The experts provided even more insight during the full panel discussion. Watch the full webinar to take a deeper dive into the technology that's transforming our industry.


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