5 Tips to Build the Right BI Approach in Your A&E Firm
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The 3rd Annual EMEA and APAC A&E Clarity Study unearthed intriguing insights into how today’s architecture and engineering (A&E) firms across EMEA and Asia Pacific are approaching data, business intelligence (BI), and analytics.
Even though firms are constantly collecting data, not all have plans to invest in BI and analytics solutions that can help transform that data into meaningful insights. While bringing data into the business will always be important, firms that stop at this early step risk missing out on the ability to make more informed decisions that lead to superior project and business outcomes.
Data is Seen as Vital by Firms, but it’s Not Currently Prioritized
According to the 3rd Annual A&E Clarity Study, the three most important emerging technologies for A&E firms across EMEA and Asia Pacific are data science (82%), artificial intelligence (79%) and internet of things (79%). Yet a much lower number of firms surveyed, between 29 and 33%, are actually applying these technologies across their businesses today.
The study also highlighted that between 50 and 55% of firms are looking to apply these emerging technologies in the next three years. This shows that firms recognize the importance of data and are looking to become better equipped to gather and analyze business data in the near future.
As A&E firms prepare to focus more on data over the coming years, what can they start doing today to prepare?
EMEA and APAC Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study
Compare Your KPIs to Industry Benchmarks
How Can A&E Firms Do More With Their Data
Whether you’re just starting out with harnessing BI or have some parts of a data ecosystem in place, every data analytics journey can benefit from following these five best practices:
1. Build a Complete Data Culture
Making the most of your data isn’t about buying and implementing an analytics package. It requires a shift of culture and mindset. As highlighted in our previous blog about benchmarking and KPIs, you need to build a culture that continually puts data first — and makes improvements to data processes over time.
One of the best ways to build this culture and secure buy-in is to demonstrate the tangible benefits of BI and analytics across different business units. While many can appreciate the abstract benefits of data analytics, it’s much easier to appreciate that it can improve efficiency, and help teams save significant amounts of time.
Focus Your Efforts Where They Have the Greatest Impact
Few businesses have the resources or in-house expertise to apply BI across all processes and departments in one go. That’s why it’s vital to be selective with where you focus your efforts — especially during the earliest parts of your BI journey.
And even as the breadth of your BI and analytics grows, be careful not to overdo it. Too many numbers across too much of the business can easily become background noise and lead to data fatigue.
Instead, apply analytics in the places where you know you can generate valuable insights that will improve outcomes and decision-making. The best place to start is focusing on your strategic goals and business plans so you can monitor how you are performing and look at meaningful and actionable data to keep you moving forward.
Keep the ‘Business’ in Business Intelligence
With so many options on the market for data analytics and BI, it can be easy to hype focus on the tools and platforms you’ll be using. The underlying processes and concepts around how you use data in your firm will be far more important than any single tool — and much less likely to lock you into a vendor or platform as well.
To keep your focus on the business part of business intelligence, it can help to ask at every stage “How will this help people make more informed decisions?” and “How will this help us achieve our business goals?”
Scale Over Time
Like any company-wide initiative, it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew with a BI strategy. That’s why it pays to start small and scale. By starting small, you can learn from mistakes and train people in a low-stakes environment, and you can get the quick wins you’ll need to secure buy-in from firm leaders.
While this is especially useful for firms deploying BI tools and processes for the first time, scaling is also a useful approach when deploying new analytics models, visualization tools, or any other addition to your BI and analytics.
Keep the Unique Needs of Your Industry in Mind
Plenty of solution providers can offer analytics and BI platforms designed to be used off the shelf. However, many of these can’t meet the unique needs of an A&E firm. While a turnkey solution is tempting, data platforms and visualizations that capture data at the organizational and project levels will offer far greater value for project-focused businesses.
But your industry focus doesn’t mean you have to painstakingly build your own solution from the ground up. Deltek’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are designed around the unique data requirements of architecture and engineering firms. With interactive visual dashboards and advanced business intelligence functionality, your firm will have greater insight into the data you need without the need for a team of people to create, maintain and analyze the data for you regardless of your size or firm complexity.
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