Rising Up from Labor Pitfalls: 3 Questions Weighing on Engineering Firms

There are things we can control, and those we cannot. The labor shortage has brought great operational challenges and impact to your bottom line—it is one of the uncontrollable outcomes of the pandemic. Among those industries hit the hardest include AEC and engineering services. Although demand is rapidly growing (ref: 2021 infrastructure bill), there remains a challenge to acquire and retain the quality talent needed to perform high quality work.

At Agile Frameworks®, we see the labor crisis as an opportunity for engineering services firms to rise up and change the way you do business for the better—to mitigate risk and future-proof your business. Among the business impact results are happier and more productive employees, increased customer satisfaction, and more profitable business growth. However, this can only be achieved by adopting technology to automate and digitally transform your business.

Here are three questions you should ask as you action the necessary change in your organization to survive—and thrive—in spite of the labor shortage:

1. How can I improve operational efficiency and streamline project management operations without adding headcount?

Simply put – through technology. Engineering services firms can utilize a field-testing data collection and reporting software platform like MetaField® to…

  • Reduce the time it takes to review reports. We have customers whose project managers were spending 8-10 hours per week reviewing reports before implementing MetaField, and that has since been reduced to two hours per week. Time savings like this will free up your team to work on other billable projects and bring more value to the business.
  • Deliver reports in 24 hours or less. Historically, the standard turnaround time for reports was 5-7 days after field and lab tests were finalized. With MetaField, the new standard is 24 hours or less. What would that mean to your customers and their level of satisfaction with your firm?
  • Accelerate growth. MetaField customers realize as much as 20-30% growth year over year by automating historically manual processes. Automation has enabled our customers to increase volume and provide faster service than ever before, without adding headcount.

2. How can I create competitive differentiation and position my firm to win more business?

Staffing shortages, low productivity, and low profitability are challenges for the AEC industry that pose both threats and opportunities. Technology is key to diminishing threats while simultaneously unlocking new opportunities and creating a competitive advantage.

What got you here today will not get you there tomorrow. Engineering services firms need to position themselves differently to be competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace. Simply implementing new technology is not enough—you need to reimagine how you work to drive the most ROI out of your investment. Ultimately, thinking and acting differently starts at the top. Your leadership team needs to be aligned to successfully adopt and execute a technology implementation strategy. 

3. What is the risk of continuing with the status quo?

By not doing anything you are risking your organization’s long-term survival. Your employees want to work for businesses that believe in efficiency, profitability, and making the best use of their time. By continuing with the status quo, you are communicating those aren’t your beliefs, and employee satisfaction and retention will suffer as a result.

You will then find yourself in a position of having to replace talent, and if your organization is stuck in manual processes, that is not a desirable position to be in. Remember, millennials and GenZs now represent the largest demographic in the workforce. Your technology footprint, or lack thereof, speaks volumes to them. They are digital natives and expect new technologies to be embraced continuously at work. They may end up being one of your greatest resources to assess and drive new technology-based improvements. However, you will never have a chance to hire these folks if you do not embrace process improvement and believe in the positive impact technology can have on your business.

Want more on this topic?

Check out our latest on-demand webinar – Labor Shortage: An Opportunity for Profitable Growth – where Allan Bush, CEO and President at Alpha-Omega Geotech, talks about how his firm modernized their business processes by implementing MetaField and ultimately grew their business in uncertain times.