Life in the consulting engineering industry has been relatively upbeat in 2015. But even when your services are in demand, and opportunities are rife, one still needs to tread a careful path.
This is why it pays to take a moment and consider lessons learnt in 2015. Looking back over the past twelve months with hindsight gives us a certain confidence to move into the New Year with certainty and direction.
So, with this in mind, it may help you to understand what I have learnt as an observer of the consulting engineering industry in 2015.
Not every opportunity is a golden opportunity
Over the past year, demand for the industry's services has grown as Government commits financially to funding infrastructure.
This presents a dilemma: "How to manage an abundance of opportunities that comes my way."
I've learnt that it pays to be more selective over the projects you bid for. It pays to refer to your business data to pick out only the best projects and clients.
As one engineer puts it when surveyed for the Infrastructure Intelligence Pulse Survey: "We only want to work for clients that value the value we bring".
How you’re paid is as important as how much you charge
An article from the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) - "Late payments are adding to costs" - says the average payment term stands at around 81.5 days in engineering.
That's a long time to wait.
To take on this challenge, firms are investing in back-office processes as a means of streamlining, monitoring and chasing late invoices. When it comes to optimising cash flow, you can never become too slick.
It's not always going to be an employer's market
In 2015, the talent pool for engineers became increasingly small as demand for the best consultants intensified.
One consultancy owner who answered the Pulse survey sums it up by saying: "You absolutely have to pay market rate otherwise you are at great risk of losing people and will end up paying agency fees and losing time in management and disruption."
Yes it's a tough market, but there are things you can do. From enthusing and energising your team to promoting a flexible working environment, utilising collaboration tools and mobile compatible systems is a positive step towards becoming a modern, digitally-centric company that people want to work for.
The world is going digital and there's no way of avoiding it
Another voice from the industry claims: "The government sees Digital Britain as the next rebranding of industry. Our big clients want it; our youngsters want it too. We should not be afraid of this at all."
Technology will dominate the industry. Over the last twelve months I've seen firsthand how it can:
- Improve better management of your operation
- Help build information and administrative bridges with clients
Your attitude to technology will reflect heavily on your firm one way or another. There's no getting away with it.
If you want to know more about how technology is predicted to impact the consulting engineering sector in 2016, then look out for our next blog on the topic.
Or, take a deeper look at the consulting engineering industry as it currently stands - in our Engineering Industry Snapshot report.