The Future of AEC Design Practice

October 20, 2020

With most of the design profession working remotely, and the United States economy in uncertain waters, everyone in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry wants to know the permanent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Frank Stasiowski, Founder and CEO, PSMJ Resources, shared his future predictions in a recent webinar with Deltek, Impact 2030 and COVID-19: The Future of Design Practice for the Next 10 Years.

According to Stasiowski, the industry is currently experiencing higher profitability with less overhead expense due to employees working from home. He predicts the boom in design services will continue into next year and that the recently adopted work from home methodology will evolve into a work from anywhere approach that will continue into the next decade.

This trend will influence the rapid adoption of technology and a paradigm shift for AEC firms that are not yet fully utilizing technology to improve project delivery. Stasiowski cited how one firm was able to start up their new business this year and create a fully functioning team without ever meeting in person. They utilized technology to hire, recruit and connect a fully dispersed team without missing a beat in project delivery.


Impact 2030 and COVID-19

The Future of Design Practice for the Next 10 Years

Watch the Webinar


Stasiowski envisions a dramatic shift in the overall industry over the next 10 years. As more baby boomers retire and prepare to pass on their businesses to the younger generations, technology will come to the forefront as the younger generations will expect everything to be digital and connected. The technology utilized by AEC firms will continue to evolve as they evaluate and utilize drones, robots and artificial intelligence that will allow them to work more efficiently and do more than ever before.  

These technological advances will result in significant change and could be the biggest opportunity for the industry in decades. This will impact business development, operations, and project management teams to name a few. For example, scheduling a meeting via Zoom for an hour rather than traveling to an office for a meeting allows project and business development teams to connect with clients and prospects even faster in a more efficient manner – saving time and travel expenses.

Stasiowski also stated that filing cabinets are an antique invention, and why do businesses need hard copies of anything? Firms will be moving to digital file storage so dispersed teams can access the most current project documents at all times. This reduces risk and saves time. With an increased emphasis on cyber security and moving to the cloud, firms will need to make sure their files are secure and that they still have access if the power goes down.


How Can Your AEC Firm Reduce Risk?

Explore Best Practices in Risk Management

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Stasiowski also suggests creating your AEC firm’s strategic plan for the next 10 years. What does your design practice look like now, how would you like to see it evolve, and what is your vision for the future?

Here’s seven actions AEC firms can take now to drive future success into 2021 and beyond:

  1. Adopt a culture of permanent change. A lot has changed suddenly this year. What you were planning to do eight months ago you can’t do now. How can your firm adopt a culture of change in these unpredictable times?
  2. Embrace technology and new ideas before your competitors. Are you ahead of the competition, behind them, or in the middle of the pack? Utilize the Deltek Clarity Technology Trends Mini report to discover the latest industry IT trends and see how your firm stacks up.
  3. Share your intellectual capital freely. Consider publishing information about your markets and changes in your markets to your clients. Emphasize the importance of embracing systems that help your clients be more effective. Talk about how the building of structures will change. For example, as an architect talk about seating requirements and how they will change as a result of the virus.
  4. Build a network of knowledge you can tap fast. Are you building a network of knowledge you can tap into when needed? Engage with your retirees. Capture their knowledge through a contract to stay in touch with you as needed so you can tap into their talent and experience instead of hiring all full-time employees.
  5. Keep tabs on project delivery. Consider what you are doing within your firm to control the speed of delivery to make sure you are delivering projects on time and on budget. Only 46% of firms use a clearly defined project management process for the majority of their projects, according to the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study.
  6. Restructure how you are capitalized. You may have to spend more capital to retain talent. In the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, firms of all sizes indicated their top challenge in acquiring talent is availability of good candidates in the marketplace and the top challenge for managing talent is employee engagement.
  7. Value youth. Look at leadership beyond age. Promote people that are young and capable to shake the trees of change rather than focusing only on longevity and experience. Embrace energy and work ethic right now.

As you build out your plans for the future, tap into the wealth of information available from PSMJ Resources and Deltek. Get started by reviewing the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study to benchmark your firm’s performance against the competition and get critical industry insights. You’ll discover how leading architecture and engineering firms are maintaining their competitive edge and futureproofing their businesses.

About Frank Stasiowski
FAIA, Founder and CEO, PSMJ Resources

Frank Stasiowski, Founder and CEO, PSMJ Resources, is an advisor to CEOs and other leaders at many of the world’s top architecture and engineering firms. Additionally, he actively serves as an outside director for architectural and engineering firms around the globe, and Frank’s experience includes serving as a director for a publicly-traded, 4,000-person engineering firm.

Frank helps his clients by challenging them to excel and to think differently about their constraints and obstacles. He sees his role as one of guiding firm leaders through a perspective that may not come naturally to them. He views success ultimately as clients not simply following his recommendation, but rather making their own decisions guided by his insight.

Frank is a prolific author, writing hundreds of articles for the Professional Services Management Journal and numerous books intended for architecture and engineering firm leaders, including his best-sellers The Value Pricing Imperative for Design Firms, Impact 2020, and Impact 2030.

Frank brings a special understanding and sensitivity to the issues facing design firm executives shaped by more than 40 years he has dedicated to helping design firms succeed. He is a licensed architect with a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, with honors, from Bryant University.

About Deltek

Better software means better projects. Deltek is the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses. More than 30,000 organizations and millions of users in over 80 countries around the world rely on Deltek for superior levels of project intelligence, management and collaboration. Our AEC industry-focused expertise powers project success by helping firms achieve performance that maximizes productivity and revenue.