A few weeks ago, I wrote about the early beginnings of TrebleHook and why we started the company in my blog, TrebleHook: Solving AEC Project Pursuit Challenges. I detailed many of the frequent challenges we encountered during our early stages when speaking to Architects, Engineers, and General Contractors. I also laid out how these challenges ultimately led us to the creation of TrebleHook and our three-pronged approach to Project Pursuit, helping Executives, Business Developers, and Marketers:
- Centralize and Leverage Project Data
- Enhance Customer Relationship Management
- Pursue and Win the Right Projects
In the following blogs, I will break these three key areas down in more detail to understand what they mean and why they are so important in the AEC industry. However, for today, we will focus on one of the single most important issues and the foundation for success in Project Pursuit: Centralize and Leverage Project Data.
Traditionally, Where Is Project Data Stored, and Why Is There a Low Adoption of a CRM System in AEC?
Architecture, Engineering, and Construction firms generate tons of project data through each project life cycle phase. But where does it all go, and how do we find it? The short answer is that the project data is “scattered all over the place.”
It is typical for AEC firms to have individual centralized data systems for the various departments inside the company. Financial professionals usually have all the data they need for project tracking and billing in their ERP or accounting system. HR, project managers, Business Development professionals, and marketers have systems. Problematically, with most firms, these disparate systems are not linked with one central source of truth.
The reality is that most firms will have 3-4 critical software solutions that drive their business because that one “shiny unicorn” software solution doesn’t exist. When we created TrebleHook, we knew of a better way to bring all the applicable project data together under one “roof.”
We understand that project data in one centralized location is vital for executives, business developers, and sales and marketing teams. After all, these individuals are the tip of the spear when guiding the company’s future. However, there are often many reasons why there is no adoption of software that centralizes project data. Three of the most frequent reasons we hear are:
“It’s always been that way, and my people will resist any type of change.”
Yes, change is hard, and there will always be individuals who resist. However, we are talking about the future growth of prospects and the long-term health of firms, so they must evolve to maintain and grow their businesses. Competition is tight, and forward-thinking firms are looking for a competitive advantage wherever and whenever they can find it.
Many companies are finding ways to leverage technology to get a “leg up” on their competition. Firms that fail to evolve are most at risk of being passed by their competitors. So, how does leadership get their team onboard?
Management must set a clear future vision of the company and achieve it. Without management’s support and buy-in, initiatives frequently flounder within a company.
Second, and the easiest way, is to get buy-in from employees. Employees are the company’s engine, and they need to have something easy-to-use. No matter how good it is, a complex system will suffer from low adoption and utilization.
Third, the benefits of embracing a new system must outweigh the effort required from users. Any system requiring a lot of time and effort with little or no benefit will suffer from a lack of adoption.
Lastly, younger generations have very little patience or tolerance for outdated or antiquated technology. So, as we all look to drive recruiting and retention for our business, we must innovate.
“We have other priorities that we are taking care of first.”
I understand that firms have a lot of diverse needs, and some require a lot of people and financial resources. However, what is more important than having a profitable business? I often hear this one because most other systems seem to take forever to implement.
A lot of time and many resources need to be dedicated, so companies assume that all CRM implementations are long and painful. However, that is not the case with TrebleHook. We can have clients up and running in 30 days, and we do most of the heavy lifting. We also have rolled in Administration services, allowing customers to focus on what they do best while we handle the support of the CRM solution.
“We haven’t found the right system yet.”
This one is easy. CRM companies do not design CRMs for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. These companies create CRMs for businesses that sell products and other services.
While there are CRM solutions for AEC professionals, they are clunky and not intuitive for users.
We built TrebleHook leveraging the Salesforce platform for AEC firms, which helps them better manage project pursuits and contact information. That is what makes us different. We have created an easy-to-launch, easy-to-learn, and use, powerful CRM for project sales that firms will never outgrow. If you are not using a CRM or are suffering from a CRM that is not being widely adopted and does not provide substantial value, you should look at TrebleHook.
What Are the Benefits of Centralizing Project Data?
Now that we have covered adoption, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of centralizing project data for an AEC firm:
Time Savings & Data Accuracy
How much time do marketers spend chasing down past project details, digging through old proposals, calling and emailing everyone internally? How much time do these individuals spend trying to pull data for reports? The answer is usually “a lot.” When they get a response, it is often inaccurate, pulled from someone’s memory, or an old proposal that was not the final draft.
For a company, the cost of all this wasted time is prohibitive. It negatively affects the quality and quantity of generated reports and negatively impacts hit rates.
Business developers, sales teams, seller-doers, or anyone meeting with clients, spend a lot of time preparing for meetings. They cannot always find what they need, and it slows them down, often costing them business as a result. I always hear that “things just slip through the cracks.”
Improved Visibility Into Project Data
Improved visibility and collaboration are the critical benefits of having a centralized project database. Tracking sales pipeline and specific actions on spreadsheets and in other data silos are cumbersome and time-consuming, often not kept up to date, and not shareable with everyone who would benefit from being kept in the loop.
Having one place where everyone can go for project information keeps key team members informed and involved. Everyone can quickly see what conversations have taken place, the topics discussed, the parties involved, and the next steps on the project.
Clear visibility keeps people from duplicating efforts and stepping on each other’s toes, which is a concern I hear a lot from firms with multiple locations or specialties. It also helps drive collaboration on projects and avoid friction between employees chasing the same people and opportunities. Finally, it makes it more manageable for leadership to see what actions are being taken or not taken to hold people accountable.
Timely & Accurate Reporting and Better Decision-Making
Reporting and decision-making go hand in hand. Decisions by AEC executives are often based on intuition or hashed out during Monday morning discussions rather than based on the firm’s data. This lack of exactness is because they do not have a system that captures all the data and presents it in a clear, consumable manner, so they go with their best instincts.
They are correct most of the time because years of experience have sharpened their instincts. However, to make more consistently sound decisions, leadership should be utilizing the data they have accumulated over time. Forward-thinking firms leverage their data to establish a more structured go/no-go process, forecast work and project revenue more accurately and make proper hiring and resource allocation commitments.
Data Loss Prevention & Attracting New Talent
The final benefits of centralizing project data that I will touch on are data loss prevention and attracting new talent. Most of a firm’s value comes from its people, knowledge and accomplishments, past project successes, and years of relationship-building.
Think about the value lost when an employee leaves a firm. Without a means to capture all of an employee’s knowledge and past interactions, most of that value goes with them. Having a system that captures and holds that data forever is significant to a firm. Likewise, attracting new talent requires that a business can demonstrate a clear path to success.
Today’s job-seekers are looking to join professionally run organizations with tools in place that can help them hit the ground running. They do not want to be lost from day one because they cannot find information and must continually ask basic questions. With one centralized place for project data, they can locate things on their own, helping to attract new talent and ensure that they onboard as quickly as possible.
Once you properly leverage your project data, you can prioritize your efforts on the Right Projects, which we will discuss in a future blog.
What is your firm’s state of project data, and are you leveraging it to build your business? If the answer is “I don’t know” or “no,” let’s talk.