Professional services firms must deliver quality projects on time and within the designated budget. Without accurate service estimates, client satisfaction and development of new business can never be achieved. The truth is, delivering quality projects can be challenging. Especially when to do so, requires you dealing with multiple teams, timelines, and data streams. For architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms, many factors should be focused on when considering project planning. By keeping these factors in mind, your AEC firm can build the optimal foundation for project success and take the lead towards better project delivery.

Accurate service estimates = Project success

For an AEC firm, leading to every successful project was an accurate service estimate. Without an accurate service estimate, firms will inevitably encounter cost overruns, low profitability, negative client interactions and project delays.

The best time for an accurate service estimate is at the beginning and ideally during the sales cycle. When you think about it, this is the main juncture between your sales and delivery teams. By ensuring all teams are on the same page, with the same plan, you are more likely to fulfill the promises made to your clients. Building service estimates proactively during the sales cycle can also help reduce change orders or awkward conversations with clients over the need for additional funding.

A well-managed AEC firm will have a structure to the service estimate process. A methodology, supported by a tool that provides well defined roles and, when possible, standardized bill rates, will already have been developed. They will use their knowledge from comparable projects and see what they were truly able to bill on those projects. AEC firms using the correct tool should be able to automatically take the proposed scope and transition it into a tangible, revenue producing project. This allows for a streamlined project initiation process and elimination of any potential estimate errors or missed details.

What is your process of service estimate management?

Accurate service estimates are vital to the success of any project, and therefore the success of your AEC firm. Leaving these mission critical estimates to chance or tackling them manually presents too great a risk. If you have not done so already, it is time for you to move your service estimate process to a digital tool. The streamlined estimates and enhanced accuracy these tools provide far out-weigh the investment.

HSO ProServ empowers clients to achieve accurate and efficient service estimates by implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations. Leveraging the power of Dynamics 365, Project Operations combine data and functionality required to enhance the estimates process. The tool incorporates multiple work and data streams to simplify time tracking, streamline resource utilization, and optimize project management.

Using Project Operations, you can construct project phases and tasks, deliverables, and any dependencies that might exist between them. You can also identify the roles and resources the project requires, as well as any specific characteristics needed for those roles. By defining the required roles and the associated rates, the system calculates the estimated effort that you will expend, and automatically estimates the  cost and revenue for the project.

The tool enables you to outline start and end dates in addition to the level of effort to complete that task or deliverable. Building up this plan while in the sales process gives you the foundation needed to obtain an accurate and informed project estimate.  This is critical once the work is secured and you are transitioning into your project delivery phase.

What then is the next question? Obviously: Is this project going make money or not? Project Operations uses the data and project details to provide a real-time view of what your projected gross margin will be on any particular project. Before the project has even begun, you can tell how much profit you stand to make if it is executed as outlined. You can also fine-tune the financial profile of the project by either role applied, or timeframe involved to impact the projected profit.

Now it is time to merge the estimate into a personalized project quote or proposal document to be presented to your client. After you win the project (and you will win!) you can transition into it using the work that you have already completed, making it even easier to carry it forward into the execution stage. HSO ProServ’s Project Operations facilitates accurate service estimate development during the sales process for your firm. You’ll know if the project will be profitable from the start. You’ll have fewer change orders, leading to happy satisfied clients!

Be sure to check our post in the series focused on delivering better projects.

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