How do Consulting Engineers, or any other Professional Services firms for that matter, approach “Digital Transformation”? Strategically, firms have understood the importance of technology for eons, but rapid tech advancement over the last twenty years (think Cloud, Big Data, Mobility, AI etc.) have delivered a remarkable toolset for completely transforming the way in which we work and grow. There is also a very strong school of thought that such technologies should in affect enhance individuals & firms capabilities rather than replace them (no the robots are not taking all of our jobs, just yet). But where do we start? How do you equip your firm to take advantage of this new world? How does a people and project-centric business use technology to rise above its competitors?
CKR, a 140-man Engineering Consultancy Practice, out of South Africa, are a prime example of how to go about this change, continually investing in their own digital transformation and reaping the benefits daily. In working closely with the firm over a period of almost ten years, rolling out Deltek solutions in various areas of their technology strategy, we have determined that the following four key ‘pillars’ to their approach has driven success in both technological advancement and market leadership.
1. Technology as the Backbone: Ensure you have integration of your projects, accounting, reporting & workflow. Go with ‘best of suite’.
You still need to get the basics right. Good ol’ Excel has its purpose, but it is not a management platform. In the Professional Services environment, how you win and deliver on key projects drives the success and profitability of your firm. If you do not have the right tools in place to manage your business workflow, then inefficiencies will drive down your capability to sustain your business. CKR has implemented industry-focused technology for the bid to win process, and all of the gears in the background: project management, accounting, billing, reporting and so forth, to ensure they have real-time management information for decision making and serve their clients better.
Best-of-suite solutions offer full integration and visibility into your project lifecycle and it is key that your firm has the right management system in place. Also ensure sure that your technology partner is on top of digital trends and investing in the future-friendliness of this core component of your business. Implement an industry-proven financial and project management platform, but that’s just the beginning…
2. Technology as an Enabler: Attract, retain and develop the best talent
In South Africa in particular, Consulting Engineering is near the top of the scarce skills list and other key factors such as political instability tend to drive such skills to search for opportunities offshore, or in other industries. It is therefore critical to ensure you have the capability to reach the right talent, using the right channels and to be able to respond to them digitally and meaningfully. Of course, once you have attracted the best talent, you then need to ensure that you develop and retain them over time. CKR has driven success in Talent Management through:
- Implementing an integrated recruitment platform and automated careers page, drastically reducing the time and cost involved in traditional recruitment
- Digitized performance management and continuous feedback, driving more frequent communication
- Understanding the entire employee lifecycle and their growth with the firm over time through improved reporting and integrated Talent Management
- Introduced 9 Box Planning to help map out and identify employees who are ready for advancement, need development, or should be transitioned out
Through both a thorough focus on best practice in Talent Management and investment in best of breed technologies to support the process, like CKR, your firm can acquire and retain the very best of their most valuable asset base – your people.
3. Technology for Service Optimization: Digitize your assets, streamline your communication & documentation flow
In the professional space, particularly Consulting Engineering, documentation and communication are a key asset and often the product of your work. It is therefore critical to control and own your information, documentation and data and all interactions thereof with clients, staff and third parties. CKR has embraced technology to drive success in engineering service delivery through optimising its Project Information Management in the following key areas:
- Consolidating all documentation and emails into a single, searchable and auditable digital workspace, with a single source of the truth
- Providing mobile capability to access key documentation, client information and communications at all times, such as being able draw up a snag list on site
- Integration of production tools such as drawing applications into the overall document management flow of the firm to ensure seamless cost management
- Having a single overview of all communications on all projects and clients at all times
Utilizing technology to significantly enhance prior manual legacy process such as filing, sharing & collaborating, ensures your firm manages and protects its knowledge, saves time and delivers consistently excellent service to your clients.
4. Technology means change: Understand this and embrace it
Working closely with the key executive team at CKR, you quickly realise the importance they place on the role of ownership and change management in any internal initiatives they undergo. Throughout such initiatives, their executive committee is thoroughly involved in communicating to the business on the ‘why’ behind the business changes, and the reason for adoption new technologies.
It is natural that change of systems and processes will face resistance, but the leaders of the business maintained, with clarity, the purpose of the investment and intended outcomes. Throughout technology implementations, whether it is enabling time tracking on a mobile device or enhancing your entire management reporting function, it’s how you engage with the people driving such process that determines success. If you in turn then select the right technology partner, change can drive efficiency, profitability and business success.
To find out more about CKR’s exciting journey with Silversoft & Deltek watch the video here.