We all look for ways to be more efficient and get work done faster – work smarter, not harder is a motto many of us embrace. Time back in our day to do the things that are most meaningful to us is worth a lot. From a business perspective, we know that time equates to money…from billable hours to project completion to collect payment for services delivered.
The market for engineering services continues to grow; however, there is a drastic shortage of engineering, project management, and support resources (ref: Rising Up from Labor Pitfalls: 3 Questions Weighing on Engineering Firms). Simultaneously, competitive pressure is growing as merger and acquisition activity increases and speed of delivery is paramount. This puts performance and competitive differentiation in the spotlight, whether you are competing for projects, or looking to sell your firm.
When the data collection and reporting process is fragmented or interrupted, information cannot flow in the necessary sequence and a variety of problems emerge. You are at risk of sending the wrong resource to the job site, important project information might not be available when needed, timecards reflect incorrect projects, scope changes go unidentified…and the waterfall effect persists. It is frustrating for your team who is forced to create workarounds using spreadsheets, email, or other manual processes to try and stitch the workflow back together. Worse yet, the cost incurred to fix these problems is hidden from view, buried in low productivity. Your opportunity to get things right the first time decreases while your costs increase. You are handcuffed.
I attended the GBA conference in San Diego in April and was moved by the heartfelt care and concern the geoprofessional community has for the work to be done and the importance of getting it right. You are passionate about the value of services you provide, and care deeply about building safe structures. Whether you are in an office or the field, getting your work done right the first time and providing accurate data you can trust are very important goals. Getting it wrong or struggling to figure out what is right frustrates your entire team and impacts your client relationships. It is more important than ever to perform faster, better.
The conference honored geoprofessionals as superheroes—a testament to the heroic work of safe, sustainable structures. Collecting accurate field and lab data is a critical part of the construction process, and from a speed of delivery and profitability standpoint. Now is the time to take a serious look at the inefficiencies in your processes and solve for them. This takes a combination of provocative leadership, business process improvement, and a technology ecosystem that efficiently optimizes your processes from beginning to end.
Technology can outperform humans in many tasks, and we increasingly expect our needs to be anticipated to get the job done better and faster. Core functions, like assigning qualified resources to perform work, automating billing, and curating project data can be highly automated with today’s technology. Smart applications put your team in the high-performance driver's seat, leaving the frustrations behind. Instead of wasting time creating data, they only need to handle exceptions. With artificial intelligence injected into the applications the accuracy gets better and better over time. Innovative technology companies have recognized these challenges and are invested in disrupting the AEC industry.
The impact is dramatic, resulting in double-digit productivity increases in the affected roles (ref: How to Measure Productivity and Why it’s Important). As qualified resources become increasingly scarce, the shift to smarter applications is critical. Until now, engineering service firms have had no choice but to manage data “after the fact.” Attempts to gain real-time information are, at best, captured in workaround efforts such as manually created and reviewed daily reports. Financial and operational performance can only be measured sometime after the fact, often at the end of the month when financial cutoffs for invoicing or financial reporting mandate an audited assessment.
As an example, invoicing is one of the most expensive processes for an AEC firm. Financial cutoffs often reveal what happened upstream. If it is bad, getting it fixed is a costly hassle. Likewise, what if you find out after the fact that the work you performed was non-compliant? How often do you have no choice but to accept the risk when the timing of rework is not an option? While there is a financial impact to not getting work performed right the first time, the risk of rework and litigation looms greater. Leveraging real-time information to mitigate these conditions is invaluable.
Whenever you take one step forward and one or more steps back to recover from errors and omissions, the cost multiplies. Most firms throw more people at the process to mitigate the issues that arise. This buries the impact in your bottom line and is a no-win scenario for your future. A lack of visibility throughout your process of execution leads to an assumption of greater risk, a loss of stakeholder trust, and less profitable growth.
At Agile Frameworks, we are committed to the digital transformation of the construction materials testing industry for more efficient, high-performing operations. The result will be an increase in both customer and employee satisfaction, as well as profitable growth. Join us in this mission to build a new way forward for your business, and the AEC industry at large.