With increased competition and marketplace volatility in engineering services sector, firms must ensure they are leveraging all their resources to gain a competitive advantage. One frequently overlooked source of talent, knowledge, and skills is the project manager who can add value and success to your firm’s marketing efforts.
Engineering firms that rely on old-fashioned paper plans put their business at a competitive disadvantage.
According to a 2016 whitepaper published by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), engineering firms continuing to face volatile market demand for their services. Additionally, overall market forecasts show flat to minimal growth in the engineering sector. In a survey of engineering firm CEOs conducted by PWC, 64 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their firms face more negative economic pressures during the next three years than they currently face. What can the leaders of engineering firms do to maximize the profitability of their firm’s projects in a challenging and unpredictable business terrain?
Developing a Strategy for Profitability
Adopting technology and using the skills of project managers are essential elements of strategic plans to improve profits.
In the current challenging business environment, engineering firms need to leverage their resources to ensure they are optimizing the profitability their business. One roadblock identified in the PWC report is that engineering firms lag other industries in the adoption of technology, such as cutting edge project management software. These tools facilitate communication among stakeholders as well as onsite and offsite staff. Other innovations in engineering technology include:
- 3D printing, which can be used to create models from BIM models for presentations or even making building components
- ERP software to manage different versions of blueprints, track the progress of projects, and allow real-time feedback from clients as well as the engineering team
- Drones, when used for field inspections, reduce the time and labor costs of projects
Some of the benefits of adopting the latest technological tools developed for engineers include:
- The ability to leverage historic project data to forecast the profitability of projects and identify the most efficient and productive processes
- By streamlining project management tasks, engineering technology provides insight into the ways a firm can improve staff performance
- By facilitating communication, ERP software improves communication with clients, which leads to improved project owner satisfaction
- Provide insights into how to manage resources and staff effectively and efficiently
- Facilitates the consistent application of project standards, best practices, and regulatory compliance throughout the firm
- Deliver high-quality projects consistently to all clients
- Easily adapt to evolving business needs and goals
Integrating technology into your firm’s overall strategic plan is essential for using it successfully to optimize the profitability of your projects.
The Project Manager: The Underutilized Team Member Who Holds the Key to Maximum Profits
Since project managers have the intricate knowledge of what works on projects, they are extraordinarily valuable when included on the marketing team.
Who on your engineering firm’s team has the most knowledge about what makes a project succeed and generate the most profits? Your firm’s project manager, of course. Surprisingly, most engineering firms do not take advantage of their project managers’ skills, knowledge, and experience when marketing their firm.
A few examples of the ways project managers can boost the effectiveness of your firm’s marketing endeavors include:
- They understand how projects move through the pipeline in your firm so they can provide strategies to avoid costly delays
- Project managers usually have information about prior projects to use to pinpoint the clients, projects, and processes that generate the most profits for the firm
- PMs know the details about the progress of a project, so they are the team member who can provide timely and accurate updates clients, which leads to high levels of client satisfaction
Examples of the ways to integrate project managers into your marketing strategy include:
- Assigning a project manager to the marketing team early when working to acquire new clients and projects to provide technical information about their project
- Consider having a project manager act as the primary liaison between your firm and new and existing clients
- Having project managers provide their insight and feedback during presentations
- Delegating the development of the scope and budget of a bid to the project manager most likely to oversee the potential project
- Allow the project manager to participate in negotiating sessions with prospective clients to provide information about staffing needs and resources needed to complete a job successfully
- Designate the project manager as the post project liaison to the client to address any questions and cultivate future contracts
How do project managers in your engineering firm contribute to marketing endeavors and to increasing profitability?