Cameron McCarthy Improves Project Workflow with Deltek Ajera

July 25, 2023
Cameron McCarthy Improves Project Workflow with Deltek Ajera

Founded in 1952, Cameron McCarthy is a landscape architecture and planning firm with offices in Eugene, Bend, and Portland, Oregon. As a small company, the firm knew that to be successful, it would require the entire team to have access to the same information and communicate often ─ just like a sports team on the field. When it was time to upgrade their project planning solution, they chose Deltek Ajera.

Prior to using Deltek Ajera, Cameron McCarthy was using a combination of QuickBooks, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and other solutions to track projects and financial data.

“Our firm’s work spans both private and public sectors ranging from public involvement and master planning to design and construction administration. Over the years, the firm has developed a rich portfolio of master plans, park design, urban design, transit and path systems, multi-family housing, athletic facilities, and schools (K-12 and higher education),” said Colin McArthur, Owner, and Principal. “We typically have 40 or 50 projects in flight, so we needed a solution to help us with project planning. We decided to implement Deltek Ajera, which gave us an easier way to share data and collaborate with the team. We have been using it since 2021.”


“Before implementing Deltek Ajera, I was managing a bunch of Microsoft Excel worksheets. All financial data, like bank account information and project data was only available if someone stopped by my desk and I dug into the details. There was no easy way to share the information with principals and project managers.”

– Trina Hendricks, Office Administrator


The firm needed a better way to share information. When looking for a solution, Colin researched what similar A&E companies were using to manage their project management and accounting and found that nearly 80% of competitor and peer firms were using Deltek Ajera. “We looked at other products like Clearview and Monograph, but Ajera appeared to be the clear market leader, plus it was the easiest to implement and the easiest to use.”

Increased Visibility into Project and Financial Data

Prior to Ajera, the team used an Excel file to create project schedules, which required multiple team members to build and maintain. After moving to Ajera, the team realized the product had a built-in schedule manager, so they started using it immediately. According to Colin, “The Ajera schedule manager helps save time and increases efficiency while using fewer resources. In addition, firm principals and project managers now have visibility into all the data in real-time.”

Proactively managing the ever-changing needs of a project is critical to its success. “Project budgets and needs are always shifting,” shared Colin. “If we have a 360-degree view of the project, we can monitor resources and update projects quicker, which improves project quality and keeps us on schedule and within budget.”

Before Ajera, staff used Excel to create their timesheets. Trina explains, “I'd have to take that data and input it into another Excel sheet, which would calculate hours. After that process, I would have to take information and input it into our statements Excel sheet. So basically, it was moving data from sheet to sheet. With Ajera, it is entered into the system once and I can review it in one place. It is a much easier process that takes a lot less time. Now, project managers have instant visibility into estimated and actual time spent on each project so they can keep projects on track.”

Time Savings and Improved Efficiencies

Sharing financial information with principals and project managers used to be tedious and time-consuming. Colin notes, “We were not getting a lot of profit and loss reporting with the old system, and now we're getting monthly profit and loss reports which can be distributed to the shareholders. We're able to see financial information change in real time and that allows us to make better decisions about investments we make or don't make.”

Trina explains, “Before Ajera, I used to have a one-hour meeting with every principal and project manager in the entire office and it would take probably two days just to get through all of those individual meetings. Now I go into Ajera, and because everything is in one place it takes maybe a couple of hours to look at all the projects and then the data is easily shared with the principals and project managers.”


“It's empowering to have everyone else look at their own information on their own time. I don't have to sit with them in a meeting and review every project detail.”

– Trina Hendricks, Office Administrator


Training a New Generation

Like many firms, Cameron McCarthy is planning for the future by determining the right staffing resources for their firm. “There is a good deal of competition for skilled talent who are demanding higher salaries, so to remain profitable you need to balance strategically hiring staff with lots of experience and training internal resources. We are concentrating on both. We recently onboarded an experienced marketing director, a seasoned project manager, and we plan to hire two current landscape architecture interns who are graduating from the University of Oregon. We plan to train those staff to be designers and eventually project managers. Our onboarding process now includes basic Ajera training and as staff grow into project management roles, we support them with more training. We want all our staff to be well-versed in Ajera project workflow”, said Colin.

Similar to what Colin expressed, according to respondents of the 44th Deltek Clarity Architecture and Engineering (A&E) Study, staff shortages are a top project management challenge. Forty percent of companies polled agree that they face the issue of project manager experience levels, which indicates a shortage of management staff with adequate skill sets.

One piece of the talent training puzzle is using technology such as Ajera, which provides project teams the tools to easily balance the demands for their time and attention. With Ajera, project managers can proactively manage resources, schedules, and budgets to keep projects moving forward.

Future Frontiers

While Cameron McCarthy has benefited from incredible time savings and improved efficiencies since implementing Ajera, they realize they are using only a fraction of its capabilities. They are excited to increase their use of Ajera in the coming years to better manage project resources and understand company performance so they can make data-driven decisions.

For example, the firm is looking to expand on Ajera’s resource management capability to better manage its staff’s workload. “We need to look at how resources are distributed across projects, so we don’t have one employee working a 60-hour week while another is working 30 hours. We know Ajera can help with that,” remarked Colin.

The team also understands the importance of tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). According to Colin, “Ajera helps us easily track utilization rates which is an important KPI for A&E firms. We are in the process of updating the KPI dashboard in Ajera with the latest Deltek Clarity data. This will allow us to compare our results with firms within the industry of similar size and use that knowledge to improve future investments and initiate changes where needed.”


Use Technology to Power Your Projects

Discover how Deltek Ajera can help you improve project visibility, improve cash flow, and make better, faster business decisions.

Learn More