he architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries face many challenges. In particular, when managing a cross section of projects. From complex large projects to many smaller projects, technology can transform the design and delivery of them all.
Working across so many associated project, project managers face many challenges. This can include communicating across more than one multi-disciplinary team. A project manager can work with the architects, engineers and builders all at the same time. Then there is the challenge of tracking jobs costs, budgets, profit and loss margins, and understanding the project deliverables.
So how can AEC tools assist in keeping track of important project details?
Tracking project costs accurately
Project cost accounting is not the same as business accounting. It involves job costing and tracks the financial progress of a project using the data in the system. This gives architects and engineers a transparent view on how each project is going in terms of cost and budget. All stakeholders can see how the project’s profitability is tracking.
Project accounting can work across different companies for short projects or for years on complex projects. Budgets and costs alter over the project life and this needs recording for the life of the project. During the building phase, there are sub projects. Projects within projects with budgets allocated from within the main budget. Then there are often milestones to meet for the client. These can depend on payment phases so are critical to the ongoing flow of funds. Important milestones need tracking. This is best done through a work breakdown structure. Creating a work breakdown structure is not just about managing workflow and timelines. It helps to manage not only project costs and timelines but also material needs and purchases, fixed fees, and percentage of work complete. This gives relevant stakeholders access to one true source to work from.
AEC projects are labor intensive. It is the nature of the industry – designers, engineers, builders, and contractors working together. Because of this, team members need to account for their time within a fixed budgeted fee. For example, an architect may work on three different projects in a day. It is important they bill their time to the correct project. This helps to measure progress, time sent and costs accurately. And, whether the fixed fee quoted is realistic.
Using integrated accounting technology gives everyone a clear understanding at every stage of the project. It gives them the ability to create key reports.
Integrated document management and communication
Keeping track of project documentation is just as important as project accounting. It is easy to lose track of email trails and telephone conversations, and document and drawing versions. These are not always easy to share among all stakeholders. This can cause confusion and costly fixes down the track when you find you are not all working from the same page. Let along the cost to damaged reputations.
Having a good document management function as an AEC tool, allows good version control in controlled document folders. And, with the ability for email integration, nothing gets lost. It also saves lot of time with no more manually creating version numbers. Using a formal process for handling all communications for architecture, engineering and construction projects make it simple to keep everyone working from the same page.
Project performance reporting
Good AEC project management tools will include reporting functionalities. Reports are vital to the whole process. Reports for profits, percentage compete, revenue per staff member, project profits and losses, and much more.
Good AEC tools have many report types built in. You will also be able to customize reports to look at the overall project performance and profitability. No longer is there any reason to be in the dark about a project’s performance.
If you are serious about enhancing project management using AEC tools, talk to the experts with the knowledge.