Architects reviewing building plans with a building model in the foreground.

The past few years have brought enormous change to virtually every market across the globe. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated specific macro changes to our markets that would have previously taken more than a decade to see. These changes are significant to our businesses, especially engineering, construction, and architecture firms. This year, the team at TrebleHook is looking at the top trends that AEC firms need to consider as they progress in this new normal of 2022 and beyond.

Digital Transformation Is What We Are All Seeking

Although AEC is an industry focused on the physical building of sites and structures, we continue to see technology disrupting the way we do everything. Digital Transformation is applying technology and processes to the way we do business.

The use of technology is becoming more prevalent and appearing in many different forms. New utilization of technology includes visualization tools like VR/AR, the advanced rendering of the built environment, 3D laser scanning and reality capture devices, and the elimination of paper in our workflows in favor of digital workflows. For Architecture, Engineering, and Construction firms to compete, you must understand and begin to make strides toward a digital transformation in your business, or you will be left behind.

Businesses Must Prepare for the Next Generation

The work environment dynamics are changing, and we see the younger generation entering the workforce with different expectations than previous generations. In AEC, where experience is such a valued commodity, organizations must balance the experience of the older employees while injecting new blood to keep the diversity of ideas and the pipeline for future talent ripe.

One challenge AEC firms need to understand is that the younger generation has different goals and demands than older employees. As it relates to technology, the younger generation not only wants a robust technology environment, but they demand it. Out-of-date technology and processes leave little patience with younger generations, ultimately contributing to turnover and churn in the business. So, companies must ensure their technical infrastructure is continually evolving to help the business run and recruit and retain the next generation of talent.

Mid to Large Companies Will Have a Competitive Edge

We see companies needing to scale to compete in today’s climate. You don’t have to be huge, but you need to be large enough to develop the expertise, customer experience, and technical infrastructure to compete. Larger companies have more resources, capital, investment opportunities, and knowledge, offering a much bigger resume than larger ones.

However, the downside to larger companies is that, often, the culture suffers within the business. So, companies need to understand how to retain culture, and the “small company feel” that so many employees desire with the scale and resources of larger firms. It is a tricky balancing act but a necessary step if you want to continue growing and competing. So, if you are struggling to compete in today’s market because you lack knowledge or scale, consider a partnership, merger, or growth strategy to help you win.

At TrebleHook, we focus on our Ideal Customer Profile, mid to large Architecture, Engineering, and Construction firms with multiple locations and multiple divisions. These firms have the greatest need and see the highest value in our solutions.

Mobility Is a Must for AEC Firms

Mobility is not an option anymore but a must. You must be able to access data from any device anywhere in the world quickly. And not only access data but also do your job from that device.

Architects, Engineers, and Contractors rely on the built environment, requiring them to be in the field on projects throughout their day. Keeping critical information out of your employee’s hands due to a lack of mobility in technology is handicapping your organization’s ability to grow and compete. In such a labor-based business, we need our teams highly focused on their job, so giving them instant access to project data is invaluable.

With TrebleHook, we leverage the #1 CRM platform, Salesforce. TrebleHook gives users excellent mobility within our solution, with access to customer data, project data, and more from any device.

TrebleHook AEC CRM Interface

Project Data Needs to Be Centralized and Leveraged

It is incredible how many places we see project data scattered in AEC firms. From hard copies of project files across job sites and offices to the various disparate software systems we use to run our businesses. To make the right decisions about your business, you must bring all project data into one centralized, connected single source of truth.

This doesn’t mean that you need one centralized software system. In fact, the TrebleHook team believes that organizations typically leverage 2-4 critical pieces of software that are purpose-built for the department or roles it serves but are deeply integrated.

Long are the days of manual data entry, spreadsheets, CSVs, and handwritten notes. So, firms should take a step back and look at the technology infrastructure that will drive their businesses today and into the future. Choose solutions that will grow and adapt alongside your business.

Specialization and Focus Drives Momentum and Growth

Firms that do not have a unique value proposition in their businesses will find themselves in a precarious situation in the future. Firms must specialize and discover how they uniquely provide value to projects and customers. Whether you have a specialty in faith-based renovations, higher education collaboration centers, or mixed-use residential developments, determine what you will be the best in the world at and tell that story.

You don’t have to leave every other project behind, but it should be crystal clear how you differentiate from the competition for AEC firms. And a little hint: having great people and an incredible culture are great things to have but are not the core differentiators you need to compete in the future.

Employees and Job Seekers Continue to Have the Upper Hand

Focus on what you can control. The one thing you can’t control is the job market. Job seekers, and your employees, have the upper hand in deciding where they work. With the growth in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction, employees can easily find another great company to work for to gain increased pay and greater flexibility.

So, here’s the trick: don’t be ignorant to this fact. Focus on the things you can control inside your business, like development and growth opportunities, financial models that help your teams grow, and a great culture.

At TrebleHook and TPM, we live by ten fundamental success principles that guide our everyday motions. We can’t keep every employee happy, but we are doing pretty good if we beat the averages. So, what are the top 3 steps you can take to increase retention?

A person searching a job search website on a laptop.

Distributed Workforces Are Here to Stay

Every organization is different, but the reality is that employees today want a more flexible work environment. Some want to work from home, some want to be in the office, and others want a hybrid. Right, wrong, or indifferent, you need to decide what works best for your company.

At TrebleHook and TPM, we believe that we are better when we are together face to face, but we also allow flexibility in work locations for the team. Our technology and processes enable us to work entirely remote, but we know the value of collaborating face to face. When you define the policies that drive your remote work, be prepared to align your employees and hires to that policy. Choose people that want to work in your defined strategy.

If you genuinely believe that your team works best in the office, then be ok passing on employees that want to work remotely. If you’re going to work completely remote, don’t hire people who want to be in an office. At the end of the day, it is your choice in business, so make it smartly alongside your team.

Right People, Right Seats

This market is far too competitive, and companies are moving far too fast to have the wrong people in the wrong seats on the bus. In our opinion, everything starts with the leadership team. “No bad teams, only bad leaders” is one of our favorite leadership quotes from Extreme Ownership.

Your leadership team’s strength dictates the pace and opportunity for growth within your business. Once you set your leadership team, it is time to ensure you have the right people to execute your day-to-day mission. If someone doesn’t want to be there or isn’t pulling their weight, it is time to move on.

Your people are your most valued asset and need to be the focus of your company’s future. Find motivated, excited, and willing people to help you grow the company. Never settle!

At TrebleHook, these are some of the key trends we see facing AEC organizations in 2022 and beyond. While there are many other contributing factors to business success, we feel that you will see extraordinary growth and opportunity in your business if you can rally behind these perspectives.

Now, I will tell you something very obvious. This stuff is not simple.

It takes prioritization, it takes leadership, it takes vision, and it takes courage. Don’t get overwhelmed by doing everything at once. Prioritize and execute step by step, and you will be amazed at what you accomplish by the end of the year.

TrebleHook, an industry-specific Project Pursuit and CRM tool for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industries, helps companies Centralize Project Data, Enhance Relationships, and Pursue and Land the Right Projects. While we don’t solve every issue listed above, we support them all and look forward to helping your company grow. Want to chat? Let’s do it!

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