Managing an engineering business involves the simultaneous pursuit of several key ambitions, each of which presents unique challenges. To succeed, companies need to find ways to:
Grow revenue and profits
Connect your growth strategy with your project practices to win more profitable business
Guarantee project success
Deliver complex projects within tight timescales, in scope, and within budget
Provide superior service
Exceed expectations with more focused, informed, agile and responsive teams
All businesses seek to reduce the amount of time they spend on administration and bureaucracy instead of on core activities, but this is especially important for the engineering industry, where gains in flexibility, coordination and transparency are crucial.
Factor in the rapidly evolving nature of the engineering industry, and it can be very difficult to achieve all of these objectives at the same time. But it's a task that can be made easier by taking full advantage of the latest technology advances in professional services automation/project services automation, such as the Unit4 PSA Suite and broader enterprise software such as Unit4 Business World.
What challenges do engineering businesses face?
The quality of an engineering company's work and products forms the backbone of its reputation, so it is essential to consistently uphold the highest possible standards.
But that can be difficult:
- Supply chains are diverse and complex, making smooth coordination and communication between teams essential.
- The market is evolving rapidly; new deals often hinge on offering more added value, risk-sharing commitments and a strong, demonstrable track record of delivery.
- Competition for top-level talent is fiercer than ever before and it’s essential for employers to attract, retain, develop and utilize the right people in the best ways.
So, it's never been more important to protect productivity, by preventing information bottlenecks and minimizing billable hours lost to manual admin work.
Key engineering industry trends
Unit4 can offer game-changing solutions for engineering companies, to help them rise to the challenges they face today, and respond proactively to many of the key trends that are reshaping the industry:
A few rocky years for the global economy has left many engineering sector clients feeling more cautious about how much they purchase and keen to reduce their total expenditure on engineering contracts. As such, companies that are able to offer the highest standard of service at the most competitive rate are gaining an edge. This is especially important in an increasingly global market, with increased competition from firms that are new entrants or based in other regions.
Competing on price AND service is a difficult balance but also a great opportunity for businesses that are able to optimize their cost structure, eliminate inefficiencies and run a lean operation, while maintaining service quality.
Win more business
By providing a holistic solution for managing their finances, people and projects, Unit4's software can help engineering firms to greatly improve their agility, giving them a vital edge over their rivals and helping them stay a step ahead of the market trends.
Cutting costs and red tape has always been important for businesses, but never more so than today, when companies are expected by customers and regulators alike to operate transparently and collaborate with other organizations.
It's become vital for engineering firms to assess their position in the market; recognize the growing role that technology is playing in overhauling the design, procurement, and construction of projects; and look at opportunities to adjust their cost structure accordingly.
Monitoring and being aware of inefficiencies is no longer good enough; proactive change has become imperative.
Execute profitable projects
Unit4 software can play a key supporting role in this, offering tools to help manage projects, generate forecasts and gain instant pipeline visibility, making it easier than ever to identify potential productivity issues and rectify them. Managing key business functions via a single solution can also help to address the risks and inefficiencies of a fragmented, siloed approach to systems.
Staff are an engineering company's most valuable assets. And, like any asset, a workforce needs to be properly managed and utilized to deliver the maximum benefit, especially in a market where the role of the engineer is changing.
One of the key consequences of engineering businesses running leaner operations is the need for staff to assume broader responsibilities, taking on a more collaborative role as they work with other departments to reach joint decisions and deliver efficiently on project goals. As such, it has become more vital than ever for workers' hours to be allocated and accounted for in a way that maximizes productivity.
Resource utilization has, therefore, become a key concern. So, tools that enable 360-degree visibility of staff availability for every project are now “must haves”.
Staff more effectively
Unit4 offers user-friendly, intuitive and automated software applications that allow billable hours, costs and resources to be logged and planned around, while responding automatically to changing requirements, restructuring, currency trends, staff availability and time zone differences. They also keep track of employees' skills, appraisals, work experience, compensations and benefits. This can aid hiring policies, while ensuring that staff are able to develop and grow within an organization.
As clients in both the private and public sectors become smarter about getting the best value for their money, engineers are seeing a shift in customer expectations surrounding contract management, and – for many – a new accounting approach may be needed.
One such trend is the growing demand for lump-sum, turnkey (LSTK) contracts, which place a greater emphasis on engineering firms bearing project and cost risks and guaranteeing operational readiness.
There is also an increasing emphasis on splitting large projects into smaller contracts, with customers willing to accept greater planning complexity if it means getting a more competitive rate.
Bill with precision
It's never been more important for engineering firms to gain clearer oversight and control of their billing and finances. Unit4 solutions help companies generate financial statements, produce detailed budget reports, manage invoicing and retain a direct overview of their bank balances and cash flows at all times.
Helping engineering staff at every level
Engineering organizations looking into holistic solutions to manage and optimize their business functions will find that doing so can deliver benefits at every level of their company:
Executives and Managers
Unit4 solutions make it easier to oversee the company's strategic direction.
Leaders and decision makers will gain access to new tools that will help them enhance profitability while identifying new business opportunities.
Unit4 solutions make it easier to budget, report and forecast more accurately, enabling the finance team to actively monitor their organization’s cash flow and profit margins to help keep them on track.
Unit4 solutions deliver better visibility over an entire project from end to end, helping project leaders to communicate the relevant information to stakeholders, assess progress in real time and optimize the likelihood of a successful delivery.
Unit4 solutions help companies to maintain and match the right skills to current and future projects. As well as ensuring the most suitable staff can be allocated for their skill set, HR teams can monitor each person's overall development and training needs to keep them engaged and drive long-term job satisfaction and retention of key talent.
Unit4 solutions help reduce the time taken up by complex bureaucracy and manual form-filling, allowing engineers to focus their energy on the tasks for which their skills are needed most.