Construction, Engineering, Thought Leadership

How do your delivery teams compare with the most productive (and most collaborative) in the AEC industry?

Why this matters …

We work with, and speak to, multiple organisations in the AEC sector. With this (privileged) position, it is clear to us that there is a wide variance between such companies with respect to productivity (and levels of collaboration) within their respective advisory/consulting teams.

The challenge for the lower end of this continuum is often the lack of a reference point on what “excellence looks like” in this regard. If work keeps coming in – and moderate revenue growth is being experienced in a buoyant market – there can just be a sense of “we are getting by and this not a major issue for us currently”.

We argue, however, that such a laissez-faire attitude leaves a lot of opportunity (and gross margin efficiency especially!) “on the table”.

The context …

Firstly, some context.

McKinsey research suggests that the average consultant/engineer spends an estimated 20% of their workweek looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. When companies use appropriate knowledge-collaboration technology internally, the time spent searching for such information (relevant file/template/colleague) can reduce by as much as 35%. [1]

Aside from the obvious financial ramifications of this, such enabled-productivity also equates to more engaged teams (per the sense of belonging to a high-performing collective cf. the frustration of “walking through corporate treacle” to get the job done) and, of course, happier end-clients.

It is also important to note, that this productivity challenge within AEC companies sits within the context of highly-repeatable project and service forms; for example, as following the RIBA Plan of Work stages. Experienced senior project directors often talk to the Pareto nature of this i.e. with claim that even the most technically demanding and esoteric client projects are 80-90% the same as a project type delivered many times before – hence the huge opportunity for significant productivity gain.

The challenge …

The (very common) challenge within this context is how to meaningfully enable your delivery teams to be as productive as possible.

This challenge is multi-dimensional.

Productivity incorporates multiple aspects – organisational structures (minimising unnecessary silos/hand-offs), process clarity, staff hiring (focus on team-player values in addition to technical competence), leadership behaviours (as begets high-performing, collaborative cultures) and, of course, enabling technology (such as Method Grid).

It is one thing to espouse “we have a collaborative ethos” and another thing entirely to actually deliver on this statement in a meaningful (deliberate investment) sense.

The prize …

So, moving from current (perhaps mediocre) levels of productivity to what can truly be defined as “upper quartile” will most definitely involve a coordinated executive effort (and a deliberate investment). So the effort has to be measurable justifiable.

Done well it will be – many times over.

A key (hard) measure of success will be improved margin recovery (gross margin%) on end-client engagements. More qualitative (but equally significant) measures will be: end-client satisfaction (expect such feedback scores to improve) and, critically: staff engagement levels. There is fascinating research that directly links a staff member’s evidenced-sense of belonging to a high-performing (productive/collaborative!) team and their overall levels of engagement and motivation. This, in turn, links to low staff churn and increased contribution levels generally. Another blog and the detailed research on this topic (white paper) can be found here.

In short, the prize amply justifies the concerted focus on productivity/collaboration gains.

How we can help …

Method Grid is a unique platform, designed for AEC companies, that integrates the core features of: knowledge/project/task and audit management. We call this amalgamated practice: connected assurance. Our professional service team works with client counterparts to build out your company’s service frameworks/toolbox (as based on our library of industry best-practice also) and to support the embedment of an enhanced connected assurance capability generally.

If you are interested in discussing how we can support your company’s objectives in this critical area, we would love to share our experiences with you.

[1] Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-social-economy (accessed March 2022)

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