5 Keys to Delivering Better AEC Projects: Build Accurate Service Estimates

To maintain client satisfaction and develop new business, professional services firms must deliver quality projects on time and within the designated budget. Unfortunately, delivering quality projects is often a challenge, especially when dealing with multiple teams, timelines and data streams.

There are several factors architecture, engineering and construction firms should focus on when considering project planning. By considering these factors, your AEC firm can build the optimal foundation for project success and chart a path towards better project delivery.  

Project success begins with accurate service estimates.

For an AEC firm, every successful project starts with an accurate service estimate. Without an accurate service estimate, cost overruns, low profitability, negative client interactions and project delays are inevitable.  

Clearly the best time to do conduct a service estimate is right at the start, optimally during the sales cycle. When you think about it, this is the main intersection between your sales and delivery teams. Ensuring that all teams are on the same page, with the same plan will help you deliver on your client promises. Proactive service estimates during the sales cycle also help to reduce change orders or awkward conversations with clients over the approval of additional funding.

A well-managed AEC firm will have a structure to the service estimate process. They will have developed a methodology, supported by a tool that provides well defined roles and, when possible, standardized bill rates. They will use their experience on similar projects and see what they were truly able to bill on those projects. The correct tool should enable an AEC firm to automatically take the proposed scope and transition it into an actual, revenue producing project, streamlining the project initiation process and eliminating any potential estimate errors or missed details.

How do you manage your service estimates?

Accurate service estimates are crucial to the success of any project, and in turn, the success of your AEC firm. Leaving these mission critical estimates to chance or tackling them manually is far too risky.

If you haven’t already moved your service estimate process to a digital tool, it’s time to do so. The streamlined estimates and enhanced accuracy these tools provide are well worth the investment.

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

A screenshot of Dynamics 365 Project Operations

Using Project Operations, you can build up project phases and tasks, or deliverables, and any dependencies that we might have between them. You can also define the roles and resources needed for the project, as well as any required characteristics of those roles. Along with the required roles, and the associated rates, the system tells us the estimated effort that we will expend and automatically calculates the estimated cost and revenue for the project.

Using the tool, you can outline start and end dates and the level of effort to complete that task or deliverable. Building up this plan during the sales process gives you the basis for an accurate and informed project estimate, as well as the baseline plan after you win the work and look to transition into project delivery. It’s all set up and ready to go.

And then the next question becomes, is this project going make money or not? Based on the data and project details, Project Operations provides a real-time view of what your projected project gross margin will be.

A screenshot of profitability analysis in Dynamics 365 Project Operations

Right from the start, you can tell how much profit you stand to make if this project is executed as outlined. You can also adjust the financial profile of the project by either role applied, or timeframe involved to affect the anticipated profit.

The next step for the estimate is to merge this into a personalized project quote or proposal document that can be delivered to your client. When you win the project (and you will win!) you can take this work and transition it into the actual project and carry it forward into the execution stage.

HSO Proserv’s Project Operations enables your firm to develop accurate service estimates during the sales process. You’ll know if the project will be profitable, you’ll have fewer change orders…and happier clients!

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

Michael D’Alesio is VP, Customer Care at HSO ProServ | Michael has served in many roles during his tenure in the Microsoft Partner Channel for the past 25-years.  Michael currently is responsible for supporting, enabling and strategically leading the HSO ProServ Team responsible for HSO ProServ D365 installed based customers to accept, adopt the Microsoft platforms to ensure they attain business value and user adoption.

Gary Mills serves as Senior Vice President of Finance, Planning & Analysis for HSO | ProServ. Gary’s diverse industry background brings a unique perspective to the company, with more than 30 years in corporate finance, banking and commercial real estate.

In his role as CFO of HSO | ProServ, Brian Lounds leverages deep experience implementing Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions to drive excellence into the organization’s financial and practice management practices. Having worked with Dynamics solutions since 1998, he has a strong understanding of technology solutions and their application
to business initiatives.

Whit McIsaac is CEO of HSO | ProServ and brings over 20 years of leadership experience in the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem to drive the group’s overall business strategy. Whit was Co-founder and CEO of aec360 and legal360 prior to merging these practices into sa.global, where he served as CEO of the Americas prior to launching HSO | ProServ.

Andy Yeomans brings nearly 20 years of Microsoft Dynamics sales and marketing experience to lead the HSO | ProServ sales organization. Under Andy’s leadership, the organization has shown strong growth and has consistently been recognized by Microsoft as a top performing partner, winning multiple Microsoft Inner Circle and Partner of the Year awards.

Jan Dahl Sorensen’s deep experience with Microsoft Dynamics gives him a unique foundation to guide the HSO | ProServ client success team. As part of the original development team under Damgaard Data, Jan has been working with the Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions since 1995.

Joe Stuckey is EVP and Director of CRM Product Development for HSO | ProServ, leading the company’s CRM product development efforts across the legal, AEC, consulting, and accounting markets. Joe leverages the power of Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform technologies to design and develop purpose-built industry solutions.

Paramesh Rajan is VP, Technology at HSO | ProServ. Paramesh has served in many Microsoft Dynamics project and program management roles over the past 20 years, and currently drives the development of the organization’s vertical ERP and HR solutions and outsourced development services.

A highly respected Microsoft Dynamics veteran, Jen Wisemore serves as CAO for HSO | ProServ. Jen was instrumental in the launch of sa.global’s US subsidiary in 2007 and has served in a wide variety of roles within Microsoft Dynamics consultancies across sales, pre-sales, program management, and leadership capacities.

John Aschenbrener is Director of Delivery Services for HSO | ProServ. John brings over 20 years of Microsoft Dynamics project and program management, consulting, and architect experience to his current role where he is responsible for driving PMO standards, methodology, and overall project delivery.

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In his role as Chief Operating Officer, Sean Skiver brings nearly 25 years of broad Microsoft Dynamics experience to provide strategic leadership around product development and client delivery services across the organization’s solutions and industry segments.

Amy Spencer leads the team that is responsible for go-to-market strategies, messaging, and demand generation in the US.

Amy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from The College of New Jersey and has 25+ years of experience in marketing management for technology and professional services companies.

As Vice President of Human Resources for HSO, Kristen Ramerini is responsible for initiatives including recruitment, onboarding, professional development/career progression, performance management, culture, and employee retention. Prior to her position with HSO, she worked in human resources and recruiting for Seviroli Foods on Long Island and CCN, Inc. in New York City. She holds an MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Hofstra University and is PHR certified.

Darren Gooding is VP of Delivery for HSO | ProServ, leading the company’s CRM delivery across the legal, AEC, consulting, and accounting markets. Darren applies his 25 years of experience and HSO’s industry focused intellectual property to successfully deliver large-scale, global engagements that ensure customer success.