Building Resilience in AEC: Strategies for High Performance Firms

transform resilience-performance AEC Firm
October 12, 2023

As the CEO of a professional services firm, I understand the challenges faced by executive leaders in today’s dynamic business landscape. From limited resources to evolving economic conditions, the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry demands agility and proactivity over complacency and reactivity. For firms who want to not only stay competitive, but thrive, having resilience is essential.

Through our work with AEC firms across the country, Stambaugh Ness (SN) recognizes the importance of driving informed decision-making and strategic actions to ensure the future success of an organization.

Shaping the Future through Resilience

The rapid-fire pace of change has created a gulf between strategies that were effective in the past and what is needed today and in the future to be successful.

One chief concern for many leaders is efficiency, as indicated by a recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company. In that survey, over 33% of leaders listed efficiency as one of their top three organizational priorities. Embracing the status quo and relying on traditional approaches, including the adage “This is the way we’ve always done it,” can hinder our ability to stay competitive. Firms that build resilience to disruption through anticipatory thinking are far more likely to uncover hidden opportunities and benefit from change while their competitors lag behind.

As executive leaders, it is our responsibility to drive the future of our organization. External factors such as market shifts, technological advancements, and regulatory changes threaten to disrupt and impact our businesses constantly. Business resilience allows CEOs to navigate these changes effectively and efficiently, adjusting strategies, processes, and operations to stay ahead of the curve.

Building Resilience, Strategically

Many firms face resource constraints and lack the time or staff for proactive strategies like building resilience. It’s a scenario we see frequently and is the reason why we created a Strategic Growth Advisory team dedicated to bridging strategic gaps for AEC firms.

Working with firms of all sizes, geographies, and specializations, we identified 5 areas of assessment that can significantly help build a firm’s resilience to change and disruption while driving higher performance. Each assessment helps identify activities where your firm can experience the highest return on investment of time and resources.

Financial Benchmarking

Improve overall firm performance by leveraging industry data to compare your financial performance with similar firms and identify areas for improvement that offer the highest ROI. All combined, these data points allow you to optimize financial strategies and drive growth.

Employee and Management Surveys

Gain critical talent retention data by conducting third-party surveys that provide insights into how employees and managers experience your firm. These surveys enable you to address concerns proactively, celebrate achievements, and enhance employee engagement, leading to a more productive and satisfied workforce.

One-on-One Employee Interviews

Go beyond data by conducting third-party one-on-one interviews with a hand-picked cross-section of staff and management in your firm. These interviews, along with benchmarking and survey data, provide deeper insights into the organization, offering actionable steps to retain talent and enhance performance.

Client Surveys

Obtain valuable feedback from key clients through personal interviews conducted via a third-party approach. This feedback helps you understand how clients experience your firm, identify areas for improvement, and gain insight into their concerns and priorities. Enhancing client satisfaction and strengthening relationships can lead to repeat business and referrals.

SWOT Analysis

Evaluate your firm’s internal strengths (S) and weaknesses (W), as well as external opportunities (O) and threats (T), through a comprehensive SWOT analysis. This analysis is essential for enhancing business resilience, identifying competitive advantages, and making informed strategic decisions. Firms using insights from resilience assessments effectively manage challenges, invest in innovation, boost employee engagement, and seize opportunities, resulting in steady growth despite market fluctuations.

Next Steps

To navigate the challenges of the AEC industry successfully, it is crucial that you prioritize resilience and performance. If you are ready to steer your firm towards long-term success and a thriving future, reach out to Kate Allen to start a conversation on building resilience.

Steve Hake, CPA - Stambaugh Ness