Business Development Trends for the AEC Industry

Posted by Megan Miller on July 31, 2019

coworkers gathered around computer

Nurturing healthy client relationships and maintaining a strong pipeline are two key components to business development, but they are also areas that firms often struggle to prioritize, create and document processes, or leverage technology to make it easier and more effective for everyone involved.

More than 700 firms participated in the 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Report, sharing their biggest challenges and initiatives. The top three business development challenges identified this year include:

  1. Finding time to nurture client relationships
  2. Increased competition
  3. Identifying new prospects

top BD challenges

Nurturing Client Relationships

If there is one common thing that no one has in the A&E industry, it’s time. However, making time to build client relationships can make the difference between winning and losing the next big project. When you look at your business, what’s standing in the way of building client relationships and better positioning your company to win? Are project managers who are seller/doers being given the time needed to focus on business development? Are project managers too overwhelmed with workload to think about positioning the next big project? Or, are your teams not sure where they should focus when they do have time to cultivate business? Take an in-depth look at the business development trends fueling A&E firm growth in this complimentary webcast, Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Deep Dive: Business Development.

This year, only 48% of firms indicated they have a formal business development process that is leveraged by most business development team members. We know there isn’t a one size fits all process that works in this industry, but formalizing a process that works for your company can help create a framework and capture some best practices, saving everyone time. And firms indicated in this year’s Deltek Clarity report that 44% of revenue is coming from the top three clients, which means your firm can’t afford to not make this a priority. By creating some consistency in processes and leveraging technology, like your CRM that saves time and maximizes efficiencies, your teams can be more effective with their limited business development time so you can nurture the right client relationships at the right time.


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Increased Competition

Differentiation is not a new concept in the architecture & engineering world. Firms are often looking for ways to stand out from the competition and this year’s report shows firms are becoming more sophisticated in their project pursuits. Strategic pursuit plans, deliberate outbound marketing campaigns, earlier identification of opportunities and more are giving some firms the competitive advantage.

How will your firm stand out from the competition this year? What do you know about your biggest competitors? What about your own firm impacts your ability to compete? As shown in this year’s Deltek Clarity report, firms are struggling with project delivery with 29% of projects over budget and 36% of projects behind schedule. Are there common themes in your projects that are not performing well that could be impacting your chances of winning the next project? And what do your teams do exceptionally well in project delivery that you need to brag about to help differentiate your firm from the competition?

New Prospects, New Pursuits

The third top challenge identified for business development in this year’s Deltek Clarity report is identifying new prospects. On average, firms are expecting their net revenue to grow by 5.1% this year, with large firms expecting a 6.8% increase. Firms know where the revenue is coming from today and the revenue targets they want to achieve, but where are firms anticipating work coming from? In the Deltek Clarity report, firms are asked if they expect their position in each market to grow, remain steady, or decline in the next 18 months.

The overall message continues to be growth, but in a few markets, firms are expecting to see their position decline compared to last year. Last year, the top three markets for anticipated growth were Surveying/Mapping/GIS, Transportation and Commercial. This year, Water/Wastewater/Storm Water, Transportation and Health Care are on top. The two with the greatest decline this year are Federal and Residential.

BD clarity position of market

Which markets does your firm expect growth and how can you leverage your strengths in those markets to expand your client list? What can you do to position your firm more strategically in your strongest markets with the greatest opportunity? Take a deep dive in this webcast, Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Deep Dive: Business Development.

Top Initiatives in Business Development

We’ve looked at market position, some key metrics, and top challenges firms are facing, but what strategic initiatives will your firm tackle in the next three years to improve business development? According to the Deltek Clarity report, the top three initiatives for business development this year include: earlier identification of opportunities and requirements, strategic networking to expand teaming options, and better opportunity identification.

Top BD initiatives 2019

When identifying the right initiatives for your business, it’s key to make sure they align with your top challenges. What initiatives will drive your business forward this year and set you up for success in the future? It’s time to take a more strategic approach to business development and project pursuits to make the most of your limited business development and marketing time so you can nurture the client relationships that matter most to your business.

Take an in-depth look at key challenges, bright spots and future trends in relation to business development in the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Deep Dive: Business Development webcast.


Ready to learn even more? Check out this year’s Deltek Clarity webinar series.


About the Author

Megan Miller is a product marketing manager with Deltek and works with architecture & engineering firms around the world to help them improve their business processes through technology and thought leadership with resources like Deltek Clarity and Deltek’s leading project-based software solutions. Connect with Megan on LinkedIn.