New report: the latest trends and benchmarks for A&E firms in EMEA and APAC

May 27, 2021

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The latest Deltek Clarity research explores trends and benchmarking data for A&E firms in EMEA and APAC. Here are the highlights – and what they mean for you.

Every year, the Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry report surveys architecture and engineering (A&E) firms to understand how the industry is evolving across the globe.

This year’s results cut to the core of the trends affecting firms, while also exploring the new challenges and opportunities A&E organisations have faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complete Deltek Clarity A&E Industry report for EMEA and APAC can help you explore how your peers are responding to new industry and technology trends. It can also show you the KPIs other firms are tracking, and top initiatives for the coming year throughout the industry.

But if you’d like a summary of the most significant findings from the report, this blog will cover:

  • Business impact of pandemic affecting A&E firms
  • Technology trends having the greatest impact
  • Project management challenges and opportunities
  • Business development priorities and strategies
  • Financial management hurdles, solutions and metrics

Business impact of pandemic: rapid adjustment and fierce competition in the wake of COVID-19

As COVID-19 swept across the world, social distancing, lockdowns, and other disruptions had a stark effect on A&E firms. But not all impacts were negative – while 22% of firms saw projects cancelled, about one in five saw an acceleration of projects (20%) and an increase in project scope (18%).

Despite 81% of projects experiencing COVID-related changes, almost two-thirds of firms surveyed reported they adapted quickly to the changing business conditions with the most success in coordinating with clients, managing project information and invoicing clients. .

Even amongst this potential upheaval, one constant remains: the highly competitive landscape in A&E. To combat this, a quarter of firms reported they’re developing enhanced data capabilities and attracting new talent to outmanoeuvre the competition.

Technology trends: data science, big data, and machine learning come to the fore

Technology continues to be a significant consideration for firms looking to delight clients, streamline operations, and outpace competitors. But the solutions firms are looking to are changing.

While in previous years, firms reported the likes of geolocation and the Internet of Things as having the greatest potential impact on their organisation, this year data science, big data, and machine learning technologies rise to the top.

Yet, despite the enthusiasm for these technologies, just one-third of firms are deploying these technologies. Those that are adopting big data and data science solutions are focusing their efforts on supporting project management, business development and resource management functions.

When looking at crucial IT operation concerns, cybersecurity and data privacy challenges were at the top followed closely by increasing IT staff. And firms made clear that they are focused on IT infrastructure and hiring more staff to overcome these challenges.


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Project management: despite tight budgets, project managers remain confident

As expected, after a year of heavy disruption, survey respondents report budgets posing a greater challenge compared to last year. Only 33% report at least half of their projects are on budget, while 30% report half or more projects are ahead of schedule. Overall, project managers are seeing the greatest challenges with staff shortages, competing priorities and collaboration, making it challenging to focus on delivering successful projects.

And in contrast to firms’ broad aims to become more technologically mature, project management A&E firms are concerned about increasingly complex projects and artificial intelligence in the next five years.

While they may have concerns about what the future holds, many of the firms surveyed have confidence in project performance today. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents have moderate to very high confidence in their firms’ ability to report accurately on schedule, budget, actual cost and overall performance of projects.

Business development: leaders double down on analytics and talent acquisition

While business leaders have naturally had a challenging year dealing with the unprecedented impacts of a global pandemic, age-old issues continued to plague managers in A&E firms. In fact, 38% of respondents report that increased competition is the most pressing challenge they expect to deal with over the next three years.

To solve this challenge and stay competitive, firms are primarily focusing on two initiatives. Many are turning to more advanced business analytics, with 28% of survey respondents seeing it as the most promising solution to their business development challenges over the next three years.

Meanwhile, other firms are doubling down on marketing data and talent acquisition. Of those surveyed, 27% intend to hire additional business development staff in the next three years to get the skills they need to outmanoeuvre the competition while another 27% indicated that one of their top initiatives is improving the quality of their marketing data and materials.

Financial management: teams focus on managing growth while controlling costs

Despite the COVID-19 crisis plunging many industries into a new world of financial uncertainty, the fiscal challenges facing A&E have remained consistent with last year. Managing growth and finding and retaining qualified staff are the two most pressing issues for survey respondents.

Cost control is also front of mind for finance teams in A&E, and respondents to the survey see reducing expenses (38%) and limiting project cost overruns (36%) as the way to achieve this.

The survey also explored the KPIs firms are tracking and how they relate to business performance – revealing a lack of consistency across regions.

For instance, 70% of firms in Germany report tracking utilisation rates as a KPI, and also report the highest average utilisation rates. But not all companies are following that example and getting the most from their KPIs. Australian firms, for example, are most likely to monitor average collection periods (77%) but, with an average of 43 days, could do more to translate the findings into faster business processes.

Explore your peers’ challenges, solutions and strategies in greater detail

In this blog, we’ve barely scratched the surface of how other A&E firms are adapting to new challenges and using new technologies to overcome them. In the full Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Report, we explore the trends and benchmarks in EMEA and APAC in greater detail and offer data on firms’ metrics to help you benchmark your own organisation.


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