There are numerous acronyms in the business world that represent various fads of productivity enhancement, corporate communication, and financial strategy. Many of us have probably learned about, implemented, or been affected by things such as ISO, TQM, QMS, or 6-Sigma. Most of these programs represent significant investments in time and human resources to maintain, which may be an impediment to many small engineering firms. However, one technique in particular can be a valuable addition to the corporate strategy: SWOT analysis.
Operating statistics survey reveals strong A/E market
The 2006 Operating Statistics Survey for the Project-Focused Professional Services Firm reports a strong market period for project-focused architecture/engineering (A/E) and professional services firms, with upswings in key financial metrics. Net revenues and profits per employee, net multipliers, and net profit before taxes — three primary indicators of the health of the market — exceed, or are very near to, the highest levels ever recorded in the 20 years the survey has been conducted.
Top three action items to deal with future infrastructure and protection system needs
"Safety first." How many times have we read and heard this simple phrase? Yet, often in engineering endeavors, this fundamental principle gets lost or blurred by other, debatably more pressing, needs or factors. As expert scientists and engineers evaluate recent natural and man-made disasters, I dedicate this column to the three top "action items" that I think will bring about significant change in the future.
Mergers & Acquisitions
San Francisco-based URS Corporation acquired Cash & Associates, a privately held, Southern California-based provider of civil and structural engineering and program management services to port and harbor clients. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. According to URS, the acquisition enhances its capabilities in the California ports and harbors market and positions the firm to compete for large, multidisciplinary projects at ports and harbors nationwide. In addition, the acquisition provides URS with increased expertise and resources to pursue projects in the growing port security market.
A/E firms predict growth in incentive compensation for 2006
Architecture, engineering, and environmental firm leaders are predicting an increase of 5.0 percent in incentive compensation spending for this year. Of the more than 100 firms surveyed for ZweigWhite’s 2006 Incentive Compensation Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms, half are predicting some level of increase, while 29 percent are expecting spending levels to remain the same. Only 11 percent predicted a decrease, and the remainder was undecided.
The survey defines incentive compensation as any kind of additional pay or award offered by a firm to its employees, in addition to base wages, as a means of stimulating increased effort and motivating employees. Survey data show firms spent a median of 5.0 percent of net service revenue on incentive compensation in 2005, or $4,545 per employee.
Family atmosphere profits small firms
Small businesses profit by hiring workers who fit into their company culture, creating a "family-like atmosphere" where employees are trusted to manage themselves, according to a study by Christopher Collins, associate professor of human resource studies at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Collins found that small businesses that follow such strategies reap 22 percent more revenue growth, 23 percent more profit growth, and have 67 percent less employee turnover than companies that do not have such hiring criteria.