Architecture firm leaders share their top tips for successful resource management in a remote world

Posted by Deltek on February 24, 2022

TwitterTweet it:'We spoke to AEC industry leaders Mark Murphy, Managing Director at Fender Katsalidis and Scott Huston, Studio Manager at DesignInc Sydney to learn the key to successful resource management and its effects on their businesses.'

If you work in architecture, engineering, or construction (AEC), the value of your business lies in your expertise, knowledge, and time. Efficiently selling your time is critical to your business’s profitability. So, when margins are tight, it’s vital that you’re always aware of what your resources are doing and if they’re being used in the most effective way possible.

This is exactly why resource management should be an essential part of your business strategy. By using resourcing data, you can gain valuable insight into your projects, people, and processes – and you can act on this insight to optimize them and increase your profit margins.

With resource management so critically important to profitability, we wanted to understand the impact of high-quality resource planning on real businesses. So, we spoke to Mark Murphy, Managing Director at Fender Katsalidis, and Scott Huston, Studio Manager at DesignInc Sydney, to discuss their experiences.

Global lockdowns demanded a change in how we work

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of work across the globe, including resource management. With the shift to mass remote working happening almost overnight for the majority of businesses, the way people spent their time was hugely disrupted. But did having robust resource management tools in place help mitigate that disruption?

Mark told us his company had been prepared: “We’ve been building our resilience and our core strength in systems and governance for a decade. So that if and when a shock comes – and inevitably they do in business – we might just be ready enough for it. And lo and behold, it worked.” At the start of the first lockdown, Fender Katsalidis pooled their national resources for the first time to make the best use of them. And this, combined with the virtualization of the resource planning and management discussion, actually accelerated business operations.

Scott also used his resource management tools to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Early on in the pandemic, there was a lot of talk that we might be shedding 30/40% of the workforce. It really could be that dire… Luckily, we were able to use the data from resourcing tools to absorb the staffing to other projects, and the impact to our workforce was far, far less than we initially thought.” And DesignInc’s meetings were also transformed, with resourcing data presented to every team member, keeping remote meetings as effective as in-person ones.


 

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Project bidding and budgeting transformed

Using resource planning data was critical in easing the effect of the pandemic for both Mark and Scott. But there are many other ways resourcing insight can drive success. We also spoke with Mark and Scott to learn how they use the difference between forecasted and actual resources on previous projects to inform future bidding, delivery, and profitability.

Mark uses the historical data in his resource management system to help establish budgets and bids for new work. He can compare projects and timings while considering material cost and wage changes to inform pricing for long-term projects. And it’s not just for the long term. He also told us: “The really powerful part in the resource planning side is to help us set budgets and targets for those shorter-term activities like the pursuit of the competition.”

Scott also uses his resourcing data in costing new projects. But he has another use for it – deciding whether to bid for a project in the first place: “The resourcing data can inform us if we even have capacity to take on that job. Sometimes we might see some things that are the type of projects we like to do. But we might then look at the resources and find that the people we would really like to work on that job – to deliver that great outcome for the client – are tied up on other things.”

A better view of recruitment requirements

It’s not all about managing the resources you’ve already got. Successful resource management can also tell you when it’s time to build your resources up.

Mark told us what this looks like in practice: “When we’ve been commissioned for new work, and we’ve got a program and a revenue and billing schedule planned around that. Then we can see if there’s an undersupply of capacity – and action that either through redeployment or recruitment.”

But it’s not only a tool to help you judge when it’s time to take on new permanent hires. Scott uses his resourcing tools and data to decide when it’s the right time to turn to contractors: “Where the resourcing tool can come in is when you arrive at the point where no, we don’t have the people to staff that project. But you might have a senior or two team leaders that would be ready to take on and manage that project… So it might be time to look to take on someone for some contract work under the leadership of the existing senior team.”

The key to successful resource management

Successfully managing your resources doesn’t just impact your efficiency or your margins. It can also prepare you for disruption, increase the accuracy of your budgeting, and give you valuable insights into when it’s the right time to recruit.

To hear more about Mark and Scott’s journey to resource management success, you can watch the whole conversation in our on-demand webinar, The Key to Successful Resource Management. And you can speak to a Deltek expert to discuss how you manage your own resources.


 

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