By Luke Carothers
According to recent reports, M&A activity will only continue to increase as more businesses are on the hunt for optimization. Insights recently published in Deltek’s 2023 Predictions in Architecture and Engineering indicate that Architecture and Engineering spaces will feature more automation to cope with staffing shortages. Dawn Gajewski, Senior Director of Project Management at Deltek, believes that the struggle to find and retain top talent, as well as planning for inflated project costs for time and material, will force firms to optimize their solutions. Pushing manual tasks to automation will allow firms to save time and money.
Within the Architecture and Engineering fields, a forecasted increase in potential project opportunities is increasing the need to optimize now in preparation for the future. Gajewski points out that one simple area where they see customers optimize for project managers is during the invoicing process. Gajewski adds, “implementing a solution which supports a digital invoice approval process saves time and money.” Such solutions give firms the ability to digitally and contextually review and mark-up draft invoices, which eliminates overhead from printing and distributing drafts, running reports, or having additional conversations about the project status–ultimately speeding up the invoicing process. When speaking about a faster, more efficient invoicing process, Gajewski adds, “when invoices are sent out the door more quickly, money comes in more quickly…digital solutions should support this whole process–optimizing project management at every stage.”
Another example of firms optimizing processes is by utilizing dashboards. A solution that supports the creation of specific dashboards for each person within a firm increases visibility, accuracy, and efficiency by providing the right information to the right people at the right time. Gajewski believes that, “[a] collaborative structure enables project managers to expedite well informed decisions and obtain quick visual insights to understand the health of their projects without the need to look in multiple places.” This represents a critical move for time optimization, and allows project managers to remain focused on keeping the project on track and keeping their teams and clients happy.
Firms are also seeking to optimize their resource planning, and have developed strong, well-rounded resource planning solutions. Gajewski believes that this will continue to be a trend in 2023, saying, “a tool that optimizes the time it takes for projects within scope–on time and on budget–with intuitive indicators directing attention to potential problems before they become real issues is essential.” Such a tool automatically creates staffing plans with insight into the capacity/utilization of each resource. This helps firms better manage over- and under-booking, enabling them to balance their workload to optimize their resources while avoiding staff sitting idle or burning out.
With the optimization of processes such as worker resource management comes the ability to develop a more agile approach to project management which further drives efficiency. Gajewski says that these tools and processes “empower project managers to be more agile.” Agility in this instance refers to project managers being able to foresee and quickly adjust to changes in staff, rising project costs, schedule risks, and scope adjustments. A delay in one phase or process can have cascading effects for a project in terms of time and money. Changes inevitably happen, but with the proper tools an agile project manager can immediately understand the overall impact to “ensure they’ve made the right adjustments or if they need to adjust further.”
The role of project manager is highly important to the building processes, but the role is relatively new within the history of architecture and engineering. As such, the role is constantly changing to adapt to new advances in process and technology. With optimization and planning tools, project managers are better able to make well informed “go/no-go” decisions on opportunities more confidently and more quickly. Gajewski believes this, “allows them to focus on opportunities that fit within their strategic goals and their firm’s existing talent pool.” Gajewski continues, “agility starts with having the right tools in place–like a solid resource planning solution–which makes identifying the right team of resources easier while also ensuring the project can be delivered in a profitable way.”
Gajewski believes that, with all that project managers are juggling and the key role they play in the success of projects, intuitive tools will continue to be developed that provide real time information at project managers’ fingertips. New developments in AI and Machine Learning models will allow for smarter, faster, and more accurate predictions. Gajewski notes the importance of firms treating project management as a practice or discipline in their organization. Such a treatment provides a regular meeting cadence for training, ongoing discussions, and retrospectives on current and past projects that will help define, challenge, and improve organizational processes. Gajewski adds, “building a support system for project managers will only strengthen the practice, which encourages forward momentum and growth.”
Luke Carothers is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at email@example.com.