Not all work is created equal. Here’s how A&E firms can find the most profitable projects consistently.

September 07, 2021

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What makes your most profitable projects such a success? Our latest guide explores how you can identify your most successful and profitable projects and use that information to find similar work.

Architecture and Engineering (A&E) firms around the world operate in challenging markets. They’re battling against tighter margins, more savvy competitors and increasingly demanding clients. At times, it feels like there are few routes left to consistent, profitable work.

So, when you do hit on a highly profitable project, what can you do to uncover the recipe for success and repeat it across the rest of your pipeline?

Our new white paper, ‘Driving Growth – Don’t just win projects, win the right projects’, helps to answer that question. In it, we uncover how firms can increase their focus on profitability, identify revenue-generating projects, and supercharge performance management to turn profitable jobs into a repeatable framework for success.

But if you want a quick summary of what to look for as you try to identify your most lucrative work, this blog will cover three places to start winning the right projects.

Identify successful projects based on a mix of data

Your first step towards building the right pipeline of projects is identifying your most lucrative work and understanding what made it such a success. The first part shouldn’t be too hard, as most firms have detailed records of cost and revenue for each job. But working out what contributed to profit is a taller order.

Let’s consider how a different sector uncovers its revenue sweet spot. Retailers around the world use historical sales data to understand which customer types are most likely to spend. And when they do this, they never look to just one data point.

Retailers will consider many factors about a customer, including their age, gender, occupation, address, other interests, and other businesses they shop with. By pooling all this data together, they can drill down into demographics to paint a complete picture of their ideal shopper.

What can A&E firms learn from this approach? Quite a lot, actually. Firms will have a similar mix of data points for their most successful projects, such as:

  • Type of project
  • Client type
  • Location
  • Resource availability
  • Team members
  • Project consultants and partners
  • Schedule and scope changes
  • External factors like weather

Combining this data can help you understand what factors contribute to (or inhibit) success. By uncovering who works best, on what type of project, and in what conditions, you can start to understand the many factors behind your very best projects.


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Use technology to strengthen collaboration

Of all the elements that lead to successful work, people will be one of the most common drivers of project success. The question then is, how do you get the most out of your people and strengthen collaboration across your teams without burning out your best?

At all stages of team management, technology has a role to play. In particular, project and financial management systems platforms like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can be the difference between project success and resource management headaches.

By making the most of data in these systems, you’ll be better equipped to attract and engage talent, overcome skills shortages across the business, and ensure you assign the right people to the right jobs at the right time.

Go beyond the project and find success triggers across the business

At a certain point in every firm’s history, they’ve had moments where teams have gone above and beyond to secure a strong result. It may be on a project, with a savvy project manager helping to impress a client. Or it could be well before the project begins. For example, your talent strategy might be helping onboard new hires successfully. Or fantastic proposals could be contributing to your firm winning outstanding new work.

In all these cases, something happened that led to a positive outcome. If you can pull data together to better understand what happened from initial conversation through project close out, you can work out what your teams did well each time and what you can adjust in the future to repeat these successes.

For instance, when projects come in ahead of schedule or under budget, you might notice a specific mix of team members is a constant factor. This can help inform your staffing and resource allocation strategy.

Or maybe you notice that projects requiring specialized knowledge see the greatest profits. In which case, you might want to explore new ways of looking for work that help you find more jobs in that area of expertise.

Whether these triggers directly influence projects, or they affect the way your firm manages its people, processes and portfolio, they’ll all help create a more streamlined, efficient firm that can deliver more consistent, profitable project work.

Develop actionable insights with our guide

By identifying successful projects, empowering teams, and exploring triggers for success across all firm functions, you’ll be well on your way to boosting the profitability of your projects.

But these three steps are just the beginning. In our full guide, we also explore how to increase your focus on profitability, develop an action plan to take your people to new heights, and create a cycle of continuous improvement.

Download Driving Growth – Don’t just win projects, win the right projects


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