How top AEC firms manage projects and resources - and how to improve

What top AEC firms do to succeed at project and resource management

As the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry continues to become more complex, managing both projects and resources remain capabilities for the success of AEC firms. The ability to efficiently manage projects and resources is crucial for meeting client expectations, staying within budget, and delivering projects on time. 

Unanet's 2022-2023 Inspire Report surveyed top AEC executives on what they do to succeed in these areas. Here's what we found the top firms do - and also what firms should look to improve to stay ahead of their competition. 

Mature processes make the difference 

AEC firms with well-rounded project management and resource management processes often outshine their peers. According to the Inspire Report, only around one-third of firms consider their processes as extremely mature, indicating significant room for improvement. 

Mature processes come with time and practice – and by using the right tools. So what kinds of tools do the top firms use?  

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The power of being tech-forward 

Tech-forward firms, those who embrace technological innovation, yield better outcomes compared to tech-static firms. They use purpose-built software solutions to help stabilize and support their project management and resource management processes.  

Of these tech-forward firms, approximately half perceive their project and resource management processes as very mature, hinting at their effective use of technology.  

Knowing your project performance 

Over one-third of AEC firms confess they're unsure if their projects are being completed on time or within budget. Without knowing where you’ve been, it’s hard to understand where you’re going.  

If you’re able to track your performance – what percentage of a project is complete and how close you are in terms of budget – you can always calibrate to meet or exceed the expectations of your clients. Without this information, however, you’ll be left guessing.   

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Forecasting challenges 

Forecasting project costs, schedules, and resources is a sticking point for 52% of AEC firms, making it the biggest challenge in project management. Resource management follows close behind at 43%. 

The ability to forecast allows firms to better understand where they should apply their resources and how to enhance and fine-tune their project management efforts. Without it, they have a much harder time managing projects.  

The need for timely insights 

While project status visibility has slightly improved since last year, one-quarter of firms still struggle to obtain timely insights. Firms who are able to capture this information give themselves a decided advantage over those who cannot.  

This hampers their ability to effectively manage projects, thus highlighting the need for real-time reporting systems.  

The role of data-driven decision making 

AEC firms that embrace data-driven decision making and invest in analytical tools are more likely to have better project outcomes. This includes analyzing past projects, identifying trends, and using predictive analytics to inform future decisions. 

Of course, you can’t analyze your data without having access to that data – and ensuring it’s reliable.  

Continuous improvement mindset 

The top AEC firms excel not only in their processes and technology but also in their mindset. They are constantly seeking ways to improve and innovate, leveraging feedback and data to drive continuous improvement throughout their organization. 

The opportunity to improve 

So how can firms improve the way they manage projects and resources? By using software solutions and tools that give them the data they need to stay ahead of their competitors.  

By embracing technology, improving visibility, and implementing real-time reporting systems, AEC firms can overcome more project management and resource management challenges – driving towards better outcomes. 

For more on what top AEC executives are thinking, download a free copy of the AEC Inspire Report today. The next part in our series will discuss how your AEC firm can step up its business development game.