Engineering Firms: Delivering On-Time & Under Budget

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A recent report from the Aberdeen Group, a Boston-situated provider of fact-based business research for corporations and individuals, suggests that project-based businesses—including engineering firms—could benefit dramatically from the adoption of both enterprise-level project management tools and the mindset to put them to effective use.

Delivering Project Profitability

In its Delivering Project Profitability: On Time and Under Budget report, Aberdeen researchers explain that a business’s success is a function of its people, tools and technology working in harmony. Those companies widely regarded as best-in-class performers have mastered the marriage of all three.

As a matter of course, engineering firms are concerned with the application of physics and mathematics in pursuit of any number of solutions that will make some area of humanity’s time on this planet easier, faster, cleaner and smarter. The profession is a demanding mistress for the ongoing requirement it makes of its participants to stay current with ever-more-relevant knowledge.

Challenges Facing Engineering Firms

Even the ordinary challenges that confront engineering companies in their day-to-day operations are considerable. The imperative to engage in efficient estimating, bidding and delivery are givens. Add to that a struggling economy and the new competition emerging markets bring to the table and you’ve got a scene ripe for revision.

As with pretty much every business making any noise today, engineering companies employ computers and software broadly. In addition to conventional business application software, engineers draw heavily on a vast store of computer-aided applications designed particularly for their profession. It’s a recipe that has the potential to become an inefficient stew very quickly, if not managed with a big-picture eye.

To that end, Aberdeen nominates those companies with a demonstrated facility for stirring the pot.

Best Practices for Engineering Firms

The trick, it turns out, is to identify and implement a system of standardized best practices across the enterprise. As described in the report, Aberdeen’s nominated best-in-class performers are 57% more likely than their poorer-performing competitors to have such a system in place.

Consistency & Standardization

But the key is consistency. Among the prickly hallmarks of a project-management environment is a jumble of competing software applications that threaten to upend progress with their inherent incompatibility. Those organizations gunning for the most stellar corporate showings have standardized their project management applications across the board.

Just the same, Aberdeen points out, barely half of the best-in-class firms it identified for the purposes of this report had adopted such project-management best practices. There’s much potential for improvement here.

The Course of Action

At the end of the day, Aberdeen’s paper urges its readers to undertake a course of action that includes a range of tasks: the implementation of enterprise applications overseeing project scheduling, management, reporting and costing; the introduction of a method by which all stakeholders can be kept up to speed on a project’s progress; and the furnishing of all the players with those tools that will facilitate collaboration.

By establishing their revised selves, engineering companies can achieve performance levels that elevate them to the top-of-their-game.

Read the Aberdeen report on Delivering Project Profitability: On Time and Under Budget.

Barbara Allen
Barbara Allen
Throughout her career, Barb has held various key leadership positions as ERP Team Leader, Project Manager, Consultant and Business Systems Implementer. She has successfully implemented ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics, Deltek Maconomy and WorkBook in organizations of all sizes; from start-ups companies with 2 users, to Fortune 500 companies with over 1400 users.
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