Dashboards and Analytics for AE Firms

Posted by Shari Gardner on September 22, 2017

Dashboards and Analytics for AE Firms


Knowledge is Power

It’s often been said that Knowledge is Power and that data is the pathway to knowledge. However, many businesses today are both data-rich and knowledge poor because they haven’t figured out how to extract insight from their data. This insight is critical for making good business decisions.

It’s awesome to have mounds of data, but you can get buried in it like quicksand! An ERP system designed for Architecture and Engineering firms includes business intelligence capabilities that will help you make sense of all that data.

If you’re using several different systems to collect data across many functional areas, an integrated ERP system with Business Intelligence will integrates this data within a single solution and provides forward-looking insight that disparate systems cannot reveal.

 

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How to Make Your Reports Valuable for Users

When your reports are easy to access and easy to understand, your users will embrace them - and your business will benefit. These simple tactics will keep your reports in high demand:

  • Keep it simple

Less is more. Consider what your users really want and need to see. Don’t make it overly complicated.

  • Be current

Like fruits and vegetables, information should be fresh. With real-time information your users will make better business decisions.

  • Collaborate with your report consumers

Understand the requirements upfront, share drafts in progress, and monitor the effectiveness of your reporting on an ongoing basis.

  • Stay consistent

Try to standardize reporting across your business as much as practical. The underlying data may change, but people need to be familiar with what they’re viewing.

 

Embrace Analytics for Deeper Insight

Pulling deeper insight out of your data is where analytics comes into play. Analytics is not the same as reporting. It will help you identify trends to make more informed business decisions.

Reporting and Analytics

Predictive Analytics

 “Reporting nearly always focuses on what’s in the rear view mirror. You can learn from history but can no longer control it. Predictive analytics combines both historical trends and future projections that can help you change where you’re headed.”                                     CFO eBOOK

In the past, companies relied mostly on historical information to make assumptions about future events. With predictive modeling historical, current and forward looking data is analyzed to help companies more accurately anticipate potential risks and opportunities. Many companies that have embraced analytics have only begun to scratch the surface in leveraging the power that predictive analytics offers.

 

Budgets, Forecasts and Trends

Metrics in a vacuum are virtually meaningless. To get real insight, your data must be viewed in light of your budgets, forecasts and targets:

Budgets

Evaluating performance against the baseline budget is often the best way to gauge whether your organization is meeting expectations.

Forecasts

Your forecasts represent your “best guess” today of how your organization will perform in the future.

Trends

Combining your forecasts with your actual results, will give you valuable insight by visualizing

Trends. By incorporating historical and forward looking data you can make predictions about the future of your business.

 

Key Performance Indicators

To maximize your firm’s profits and effectively manage your projects, customers and employees, you must diligently track the KPIs important to your business. Although each business is different, read this blog to learn about 10 KPIs that apply to most architecture and engineering firms.

Read blog: 10 Key Financial Performance Indicators for Architecture and Engineering Firms.

 

Industry Benchmarking for Performance

It’s often been said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. In the architecture and engineering industry, this includes understanding how your firm’s performance stacks up against others in the industry.

One of the best ways to optimize your firm’s performance for continued growth is through benchmarking. When you have an accurate assessment of where you stand today, you’ll have more insight into what you need to do moving forward. Benchmarking will help you understand how your firm is performing compared to other firms in the industry by size, practice area, project type and market segment.

Benchmarking also helps you understand the drivers of great performance and helps identify areas of poor performance. It will help you establish baselines, define best practices to implement within your firm, and identify areas for improvement to help your firm succeed.

The Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study, produced in collaboration with ACEC Canada, ACEC, and SMPS, gives leaders critical industry benchmarks to see how their firm measures up and where there are opportunities for improvement. Now in its 38th year, Deltek Clarity is the longest-running and most in-depth benchmarking study in the AE industry.

 

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Architecture & Engineering 
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Dashboards – A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Once you know the metrics you need to track, your system should be secure and flexible enough to filter and present information in a way that is relevant to specific users and roles across your organization.

Dashboards are a powerful way to provide instant visibility and insight, and should be designed with the following criteria in mind:

• What information do you need for business decisions?

• Can this information be filtered based on login and access permissions?

• What is the best way to display information for your audiences?

• How can you drive consistency across dashboard design?

• Do you have the flexibility to give users the ability to modify their dashboards?

• Do you need a cloud-based ERP system to provide anytime, anywhere access to information?

 

Next Steps

Architectural and engineering firms are all about people and projects. That means to grow your firm and profit margins you must be staffing “the right type of projects to the right type of clients and quickly staffing them with the right people.” To be successful you need tools designed specifically to support the unique needs of your architecture and engineering firm.

 

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Request a demo or contact us at info@deltek.com.