5 Tips to Build the Right BI Approach in Your A&E Firm

November 21, 2022
Five Ways to Overcome Business Intelligence Challenges

 The 43rd Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study unearthed intriguing insights into how today’s architecture and engineering (A&E) firms are approaching data, business intelligence (BI), and analytics.

While firms are constantly collecting data, not all have plans to invest in BI and analytics solutions that can help transform that data into meaningful insights. Bringing data into the business will always be important, and firms that stop at this early step risk missing out on the ability to make more informed decisions that lead to superior project and business outcomes.

Discover the challenges firms face in their business intelligence and big data journey, and five ways you can overcome them.

Data is Vital to Firms, but Analytics Trails Behind

According to the Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, 36% of A&E firms see big data technologies as either ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ to their business. Thirty-seven percent of firms feel the same way about data science solutions. However, these numbers are lower on the list of key technologies such as geolocation (47%), augmented/virtual reality (43%), and the Internet of Things (IoT) (46%).

This balance in technology priorities shows that many A&E firms consider ingesting data as their most pressing concern. Once geolocation and IoT solutions have been deployed successfully, firms may transition to a part of their journey where they refocus resources on project delivery oriented solutions.

In the meantime, how can firms make the most of their data and extract better insights?

How A&E Firms Do More With Their Data

Whether you’re just starting out with harnessing BI or have some parts of a data ecosystem in place, every data analytics journey can benefit from following these five best practices:

1. Build a Complete Data Culture

Making the most of your data isn’t about buying and implementing an analytics package. It requires a shift of culture and mindset. As highlighted in our previous blog about benchmarking and KPIs, you need to build a culture that continually puts data first — and makes improvements to data processes over time.

One of the best ways to build this culture and secure buy-in is to demonstrate the tangible benefits of BI and analytics across different business units. While many can appreciate the abstract benefits of data analytics, it’s much easier to appreciate that it can improve efficiency, and help teams save significant amounts of time.

2. Focus Your Efforts Where They Have the Greatest Impact

Few businesses have the resources or in-house expertise to apply BI across all processes and departments in one go. That’s why it’s vital to be selective with where you focus your efforts — especially during the earliest parts of your BI journey.

And even as the breadth of your BI and analytics grows, be careful not to overdo it. Too many numbers across too much of the business can easily become background noise and lead to data fatigue.

Instead, apply analytics in the places where you know you can generate valuable insights that will improve outcomes and decision-making. The best place to start is focusing on your strategic goals and business plans so you can monitor how you are performing and look at meaningful and actionable data to keep you moving forward.

3. Keep the ‘Business’ in Business Intelligence

With so many options on the market for data analytics and BI, it can be easy to hyperfocus on the tools and platforms you’ll be using. The underlying processes and concepts around how you use data in your firm will be far more important than any single tool — and much less likely to lock you into a vendor or platform as well.

To keep your focus on the business part of business intelligence, it can help to ask at every stage “How will this help people make more informed decisions?” and “How will this help us achieve our business goals?”

4. Scale Over Time

Like any company-wide initiative, it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew with a BI strategy. That’s why it pays to start small and scale. By starting small, you can learn from mistakes and train people in a low-stakes environment, and you can get the quick wins you’ll need to secure buy-in from firm leaders.

While this is especially useful for firms deploying BI tools and processes for the first time, scaling is also a useful approach when deploying new analytics models, visualization tools, or any other addition to your BI and analytics.

5. Keep the Unique Needs of Your Industry in Mind

Plenty of solution providers can offer analytics and BI platforms designed to be used off the shelf. However, many of these can’t meet the unique needs of an A&E firm. While a turnkey solution is tempting, data platforms and visualizations that capture data at the organizational and project levels will offer far greater value for project-focused businesses.

But your industry focus doesn’t mean you have to painstakingly build your own solution from the ground up. Deltek’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are designed around the unique data requirements of architecture and engineering firms. With interactive visual dashboards and advanced business intelligence functionality, your firm will have greater insight into the data you need without the need for a team of people to create, maintain and analyze the data for you regardless of your size or firm complexity.


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