Setting Your A&E Firm Up for Business Success in 2020

Posted by Angie Amburgey on December 16, 2019

As your A&E firm prepares to close out another year of business, you’ll likely reflect on the projects and relationships that fueled your business success this year. Which projects went well and which provided an opportunity to fine-tune your processes? Who on your team went the extra mile to earn star status, and who could use additional training or mentoring? Which clients do you want to target for more work in 2020, and which are less aligned with your ever-evolving business strategy?

Every project, every year, provides us with a new opportunity to grow and evolve as we navigate the changing economic climate and challenges specific to the A&E industry. We can measure this success in a number of ways – end of year Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA), team morale and employee retention rates, or client satisfaction to name a few. 

According to the 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study, the biggest challenges A&E firms faced this year centered around three key themes: technology, people and processes. Think about your business goals and objectives. How are these aspirations intertwined? In this blog, we’ll review how A&E companies are using technology and process improvement to drive their businesses forward, boosting the productivity of their employees.


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Digital Transformation: Boost Firm-wide Efficiencies

According to the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study, many firms are not leveraging technology to improve their businesses, relying on outdated systems that are holding them back from their firm’s full growth potential. Traditionally, A&E firms are slower to embrace new technology for a variety of reasons such as cost or lack of time to evaluate new systems, to name a few.

Sixty-six percent of firms this year identified that creating a strategic plan for implementing technology was a top initiative. Research shows that firms who have taken the plunge are benefiting, giving them a competitive edge. One of these firms, A. Morton Thomas & Associates, Inc. (AMT), recently upgraded their Vision Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution to the Deltek Cloud, boosting efficiencies firm-wide.

AMT needed a proactive solution to address aging hardware and the extensive time needed to maintain their Deltek solution and infrastructure. By moving to the Deltek Cloud, they have seen a spike in user adoption and innovation within their Deltek solution. The Deltek Cloud environment is 10 times faster than AMT’s prior on-premises environment, delivering a better overall experience. Reports are available instantaneously, saving time and increasing accuracy.

“By moving to the Deltek Cloud, we have been able to improve our processes to focus on innovative solutions for our clients,” says Pete Strawser, Director of IT and Operations, Associate, A. Morton Thomas and Associates, Inc. “Our users are more engaged, they are expanding their use of the solution, and they believe in the power of Deltek,” he adds.

Learn more about AMT’s move to the Deltek Cloud in this case study.


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Process Improvement – Accelerate Project Delivery

According to Deltek Clarity, A&E firms are currently struggling with inefficient processes or overall lack of processes. Only 48% of firms are using a clearly defined project management process for 75-100% of their projects. The result? Thirty-four percent of projects are behind schedule and 29% are over budget. These delays directly impact firm profitability as well as client satisfaction.

A top initiative of A&E firms this year was process improvement. Key areas that needed attention included project manager training, as only 28% of firms indicated formal training; business development, with less than half of teams using any formal process; and human resources, as firms struggled to find and acquire the employees needed to deliver their projects on-time and on-budget.

Cates Engineering is one firm that moved forward with process improvement this year to more effectively manage their projects. The firm was wasting time searching for business-critical emails, impeding their ability to respond as quickly as they’d like. When a project issue or critical matter arose, countless hours were spent gathering historical emails from a variety of sources. This process was time consuming and exposed the company to potential risk.

Cates Engineering tried using processes within Microsoft Outlook and Bluebeam, but neither truly met their needs. They needed a distinct email and document management solution that organized project emails in a single location so critical information was more readily accessible. They selected Deltek Project Information Management (PIM) to help their business excel, reduce risk, and improve client satisfaction.

With Deltek PIM, emails are now organized in a central repository making it easy to quickly find the information needed, providing greater visibility into projects.“I’m fascinated by the way Deltek PIM integrates with our Deltek ERP solution, states Laurie Schauss, Controller, Cates Engineering. It is like a one-screen look into a project, but with more functionality,”

Learn more about Cate’s Engineering’s journey to organized document and email management in this case study.


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About the 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study & Webinar Series

For 40 years, Deltek has surveyed leaders in the architecture & engineering industry to identify the key issues impacting the market, highlight bright spots, and forecast future trends. The 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study and webinar series provides in-depth industry analysis that helps A&E firms benchmark performance and improve results.

Download the report to discover the key shifts that are transforming the A&E industry and what firms need to do to stay successful in a competitive market.


About the Author

Angie Amburgey is committed to helping businesses succeed through innovative solutions that power project success. Her career includes 15 years in the AEC and technology sectors. At Deltek, Angie helps AEC firms move to the next level of organized efficiency and project profitability.