Project Management is a Competitive Advantage
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
About the author: Don Archibeque is a Project Executive with Planifi, bringing more than 25 years of experience in construction and A/E (architecture and engineering) Project Management, as well as associated professional managerial services.
One of the top concerns of Architecture and Engineering (A/E) firm leadership today is around commoditization of core services. The idea is that design services offered by competing firms are largely comparable. Perhaps one firm is a bit stronger/weaker in certain areas, but generally design services are the same across the board. This results in a race to the bottom on price and vanishing margins. At your next proposal presentation, what if, alongside an outstanding design concept, you could confidently demonstrate the ability to keep your promise to deliver the project on time and within budget?
Many, if not all, of your clients or prospective clients have been burned on late/poor project delivery in the past. Differentiate your architecture or engineering (A/E) firm from the competition with a disciplined project management practice and communicate this to your clients.
Differentiate Your Firm
As part of your next proposal presentation, provide the client with a clear task list and timeline that demonstrates understanding of the project’s scope, schedule, and budget. Additionally, present who will be assigned to work on the project, why they are the best person for the job, and demonstrate their availability to complete the work. This requires both effective project management practices and firm-wide alignment on resource allocation and scheduling.
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The cornerstone of every successful architecture and engineering (A/E) project manager is the ability to effectively communicate. This includes both internal communication (with their teams) and external communication (with clients and subs). An effectively planned schedule of events provides the means to keep all stakeholders on task, orchestrate the necessary sequence of events, and effectively keep your promises made, while also winning the project for you and your firm!
Rockstar Project Managers
Provide the client with a brief biography of the project manager assigned to the project and demonstrate their track record of successful project delivery. When a client is comparing so-called “comparable design services,” a Rockstar PM will undoubtably swing the decision-making process in your favor. Highlight your project manager’s accomplishments and years of experience — particularly experience with high-visibility and complex projects and in delivering to tight/ever-changing deadlines. In most cases, the project manager will be the client’s main point of contact. They need to be confident that their project manager can deliver the project successfully. Effectively highlight your Rockstar PMs and your firm will win more work.
Repeat business in the architecture and engineering (A/E) industry is a direct result of the PM-Client Relationship. Challenges will always come up during project delivery – schedules shift and scopes change. However, effective communication helps PMs and clients work together to address these challenges. This builds a trusted relationship and rewards your firm with long-term customer loyalty.
Role of Leadership
A disciplined project management practice requires great project managers. Just as important, though, is the support and commitment from firm leadership. Strategic vision drives both the initial investment in a project management practice and commitment to key performance indicators (KPIs) as methods for evaluation. A committed leadership team will compel the entire organization to embrace project management as a corporate value (strategic objective). This reinforces itself over time, leading to more successful projects, less waste, and lower costs for clients. All of this equals more repeat work and recommendations for your firm.
Lastly, a successful project management practice provides a competitive advantage, particularly in high-risk/high-visibility projects. Not only design services, but project management determines whether your firm wins these projects. Further, successful project delivery – delivering on time, within budget, and to the client’s satisfaction – will determine whether your firm gets the next job as well.
Interested in learning how Planifi software can help your firm improve project management? Align with your project managers, increase utilization, and achieve higher profitability by scheduling a call today!