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Executive Corner: Focus On Three Key Areas to Prepare for the Future

Russ Ryan on July 29, 2022 - in Articles, Column

As A&E firms are planning the remainder of 2022 and beyond, it’s critical to be informed on today’s industry trends. As growing pipelines and increased revenue projections increase across the industry, firms are focusing on their people, their technology and how these can work better together. For this installment of “Executive Corner,” Russ Ryan, principal at Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners (email: rryan@rog-partners.com), interviewed Bret Tushaus, vice president of product management at Deltek (email: brettushaus@deltek.com), about the key areas A&E firms can focus on to prepare for an unknown future.

Ryan: As we are still seeing the impact and aftermath of the last two years, which key areas can firms focus on to prepare for what’s next?


Tushaus: There are three key areas firms can focus on. First, firms should be looking hard at their technology and how to leverage it for their business. Digital transformation doesn’t need to be this giant undertaking; it’s a mode of operation, and firms should be looking for new ways to leverage technology. By embracing practical digital transformation, firms will not need to focus on major investments but instead will take a deeper look at what technology they already have but may not be fully leveraging.

Another key area is project management and a renewed emphasis on empowering the project manager. The value of a well-managed project is more prevalent than ever, meaning training, equipping and enabling project managers should be top of mind for A&E firms.

And finally, with employee turnover increasing and fewer employment offers being accepted, attracting and retaining talent is probably the largest focus area for firms today. Employees are looking for more than traditional benefits, so firms should start exploring new approaches to compensation packages. Now’s the time to get creative. It’s time to be more deliberate and thematic with firm talent acquisition.

Ryan: Deltek released the “43rd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study” in May 2022. How can A&E firms apply Clarity information to these key focus areas?

Tushaus: The 43rd Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study tells us that many firms are coming out of a solid, strong year. However, in this post-pandemic economic climate, we have supply chain issues, the impact of inflation and global political-economic conditions creating some uncertainty for all of us. With this, firms need to focus on planning, hyper-efficiency and client satisfaction.

Firms need to be aware of what’s coming and strategically create a plan while being prepared to pivot if necessary. This is where hyper-efficiency comes into play: eliminating waste, implementing process improvements and “doing more with less” is more important than ever.

Properly equipping and empowering our project managers with the necessary tools includes weighing in on client satisfaction. We can no longer assume that clients are happy; A&E firms need to be checking client satisfaction at multiple points during a project lifecycle, not just at the end when the project has concluded. Genuinely happy clients are extremely powerful in today’s highly competitive environment.

Given the difficulties around talent management, firms need to understand the role technology plays in this. Firms with a progressive approach to technology have an easier time retaining and attracting talent—today’s workers expect well-placed, well-developed technology; without it, they’ll go elsewhere.

Ryan: What technology and resources exist for firms to really be prepared?

Tushaus: When it comes to available technology and resources, firms should first be looking to ensure the technology they have in place is being fully leveraged. The cost of technology can be intimidating, but that’s even more reason to get the most out of what you’ve already invested in.

Looking at what firms should prioritize, architecture and engineering firms should put their technology and resources to work for them and the way they do business. Starting with a strong enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to empower project managers and streamline processes will ultimately increase profitability and improve project delivery.

With the right tools, firms can have their most-important data in front of the right people when it matters most—this is how you get informed decision making. This can turn problem projects around, help identify which business to go after or when to pass, and identify the best team for any given project. 

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About Russ Ryan

Russ Ryan is a principal at Rusk O’Brien Gido + Partners.

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