The 4-1-1 on Today’s Project Management Trends for A&E Firms

Posted by Megan Miller on July 18, 2018


Delivering projects is at the core of every Architecture & Engineering (A&E) firm.  But how are firms ranking when it comes to delivering projects on time and on budget?

According to the results of the 39th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, project management has room for significant improvement across firms of all sizes. 

What are the Issues Facing Project Managers?

Project managers in the A&E industry are concerned with two key issues: improving project management processes and finding better ways to keep projects on schedule and on budget. Few firms said that they have formal project management processes, formal training for project managers or a project management office (PMO). This leads to more projects falling behind schedule or ending up over budget.

More than half of all firms reported low or moderate visibility in schedule variance, and the typical firm also had nearly a quarter of all projects over budget, and 20% behind schedule. Unfortunately, these trends have continued year after year, and firms do not seem to be taking appropriate steps to close the gaps. Firms need to focus on greater project visibility, more training opportunities and improved processes to allow project managers to proactively manage projects.

Architecture & Engineering

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Project Management Results - By the Numbers

Here is a closer look at some of the key statistics from this year’s survey:

  • Two-thirds of all firms have a high level of visibility on cost variance, but more than half of all firms stated that they had low or moderate visibility into schedule variance and client satisfaction. Compared to last year, client satisfaction visibility decreased from 53% to 45%.
  • Firms this year reported that 20% of their projects were over budget and 25% of their projects were behind schedule.
  • 61% of firms had high confidence in their overall project reporting abilities, down from 72% last year. More than 90% of firms felt confident they were accurately reporting the actual cost and budget of their projects, whereas only 69% of firms felt the same about the accuracy of their schedule reporting.
  • In terms of discipline maturity, only 47% of firms use a formal project management process for three-fourths or more of their projects. Overall, only 18% of firms have a PMO or center of excellence. Additionally, 39% of firms have less than one-quarter of staff with formal project management training.
  • 81% of firms are measuring client satisfaction, and of these firms, 45% are conducting these measures for all projects while 49% are doing this for strategic projects only. The majority are measuring client satisfaction irregularly, compared to 22% of firms that do so at key project milestones.

Next Steps

The bottom line is firms are facing key challenges in staffing related to competing priorities, staff shortages, and inexperienced project managers. This is a symptom, however, of larger problems with insufficiently developed project management programs and perhaps a lack of focus on employee retention. Firms should focus this year on creating greater visibility for project managers, developing better project management processes, formally training their project leads, and then holding them accountable for their project-specific KPIs. The client experience is a true differentiator, and making these changes will not only deliver more profitable projects, but a better experience for clients and improve the chances of winning more work in the future.

I encourage you to take a closer look at your firm to discover what might be holding your projects back. Do your PMs have what they need to proactively manage projects?  Are you providing constructive feedback to your team? Are your processes hindering your success? It’s not too late to get on path to project delivery excellence in the 2nd half of 2018 and beyond.

The 39th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Report provides critical benchmarks and insight for project management, as well as business development, financial management, and human capital management to help you assess the health of your firm and get it running as efficiently and effectively as possible. I encourage you to download a complimentary copy of the report today and be sure to register for our upcoming deep dive webinars taking place now through the end of July.

Architecture & Engineering

Industry Report

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