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Julie Ginn
Julie Ginn
Julie Ginn is Marketing Director at Axium, a software development company specializing in accounting, project management and business development software solutions for the architectural and engineering (A/E) industry.

Tap into the Hidden Profitability Potential of Your Staff

 
July 31st, 2013 by Julie Ginn

Through good or bad economic times, one of the equations that contribute to business success for professional services firms remains the same: optimizing utilization = increased profitability. While the math may be simple, the realization of this potential can be a lot more challenging.

This Friday, Axium and PSMJ are hosting a free 30-minute webinar titled, “5 Great Ideas to Better Manage Your Firm’s Utilization.” In this fun, interactive presentation, you will learn how utilization and the direct labor multiplier correlate with profit, why it’s important to focus on both at the same time and how small changes can have a huge impact on revenue.

Webinar host Kate Allen, Director of AEC Industry Surveys at PSMJ, will be sharing stories from other firms’ successes and ideas you can use to make sure your employees are fully utilized. For those of you who don’t know Kate, she manages PSMJ’s Circle of Excellence program and has unique insight into what utilization should be according to industry benchmarking.

The webinar’s free and it’s only 30 minutes. Hope you can join us!

Axium Live, 11-City Tour to Bring Axium and AEC Firms Together

 
May 22nd, 2013 by Julie Ginn

Everyone at Axium is passionate about delivering the best financial and project management software to the AE industry. To demonstrate our commitment to helping firms succeed, we’re travelling to 11 cities in June to introduce AE firms to each other and to Ajera.

Our Axium Live tour is your chance to interact with other firms exploring project management and financial software in your area, see Ajera’s newest features and learn best practices from industry experts and the people who built Ajera.

Lunch will be our treat and space is limited for each city so reserve your spot as soon as you can.

www.axium.com/live

Meeting of the Minds, Not Mindless Meetings

 
March 19th, 2013 by Julie Ginn

The principle role of project management is to avoid surprises. Projects may be late, over-budget or going sideways, but they should never be a surprise. When project status meetings are run correctly, they become the single most effective tool for avoiding surprises by helping to identify issues early enough to make corrections.

Join us this Friday for the first of three webinars for AEC firm leaders by AEC industry experts. In Axium’s 5IVE IN 30 educational webinar, 5 GREAT IDEAS TO IMPROVE PROJECT STATUS MEETINGS, Axium Certified Consultant, Tim Wagner, will go through the dos and don’ts of a well run project status.

When you attend this FREE 30-minute webinar, you will receive our AE Best Practice Guide: “Meeting of the Minds, Not Mindless Meetings.” From tips to keeping your team members engaged to a working agenda, this guide will arm you with the tools you need to run a successful project status meeting.

Reduce the risk of project failure. If you’re available tomorrow, please sign up to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about running a successful status meeting.

www.axium.com/5greatideas

Axium and the AE Industry: How One Unorthodox Company Thrives by Prioritizing Client Success

 
August 21st, 2012 by Julie Ginn

Alan Mills is CEO of Axium, a company that has been developing project management and financial software specifically for the architecture and engineering industry for over 25 years. Proudly, Axium is privately held and has chosen to keep all product development, marketing, sales and support in the US. This strategy allows Axium to keep a close watch on the quality and progression of one its main goals – making software that’s so easy to use their clients actually enjoy using it.

Earlier this year, they developed a philosophy they rolled out to all of their employees called The Golden Rule of Services, the guiding principle that every client should be treated respectfully. This belief is played out in every part of the organization with its commitment to use their combined experience to help firms work more productively. In the last few years, Axium has garnered international awards for its online support files and continues to deliver on its promise to answer 80% of its client calls in 30 seconds or less. In a time when many businesses are struggling, Axium is thriving.

Q: How’s business?
Alan Mills: We’re doing well. Although the business climate has been difficult for the AE industry for the past few years, we’ve continued to grow market share and expand our offerings while maintaining a good level of profitability. Since 2006, our client base has averaged 35% growth every year.

Q: That’s quite a contrast to the state of the economy during the past few years. What do you think is contributing to your success?
AM: We credit our success to having two fundamental values on which we base most of our decisions. First, in all that we do, we ask ourselves, “Is this in the best interest of our clients? Will it make it easier for them? Will our clients be happier?”

Secondly, we consider what is in the best interest of our employees because they are our most valuable asset. Everyone at Axium is a significant contributing factor to our success, and we want to make sure we create an environment where people enjoy what they do. For the past four years, our employees have voted Axium as one of Oregon Business Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work in Oregon, one of our main indicators of the health of our workplace.

When we have visitors in the office, they often comment that they hear laughter within the first 15 minutes of being here. That’s exactly what we want. Our corporate structure is a product of our commitment to this simple but powerful principle – when people like what they do, they produce better work.

Q: I know we’ve had low employee and client turnover. Where does this level of loyalty come from?
AM: We believe loyalty is the result of our commitment to helping others succeed. For our employees, that means offering training options, career advancement and a culture that supports taking risks without fear of negative repercussions. For our clients, we’ve raised the bar for what we consider success. Getting the software implemented isn’t our success measurement. It’s our goal to make sure everyone is using Ajera to its fullest potential, so we offer training on best practices for project manager involvement, free monthly industry webinars, live training workshops, local users groups and an array of online help solutions.

Q: Why is customer and employee loyalty so high on the agenda for Axium?
AM: Our loyal customers are one of our best marketing tools, becoming an important source for referrals. Many of our clients have become what we call brand advocates, speaking on our behalf and sending their colleagues our way.

Our long-term employee and management retention allows for a continuity of knowledge and experience, which ultimately benefits our clients.

We know that our clients and employees can make or break our reputation, especially in a tight vertical market like ours, so it’s important to us to protect and invest in the people who help us succeed because they ultimately have a say in building our brand.

Q: We heard recently that Deltek may be selling. How do you think that will affect Axium?
AM: Having experienced shifts in the competitive landscaped over the last 30 years, we’ve seen competitors come and go and change focus. In our exclusive AE market space, we compete directly against Vision, one of Deltek’s many product lines, so I’m interested in seeing how this shift will affect its customers in the future. I read the article that was released shortly after the announcement from Deltek’s CEO and I was very surprised to see there was no mention of clients. It indicates a strategy that is very different from ours, which focuses on our employee and client success.

Q: Let’s switch gears and talk about client satisfaction. How do you measure this?
AM: We ask and listen. A few years ago we realized we spent a lot of energy talking to our clients and not enough time listening. This led us to create a program to continually ask our users what we’re doing well, and what we could be doing better. From this program, we learned that 88% of our users said they’d recommend our software. Seventy percent considered their relationship with Axium either very good or excellent. Right now, 93% of our clients say they are completely satisfied with Axium’s live support. We love hearing this because we consider our support team an important investment, not an expense.
We also look at a number of other KPIs to determine client satisfaction, including client retention. In the last eight years 92% of our clients chose to reinvest in their software every year. They tell us Ajera is user friendly and they’re happy with the quality and abundance of resources we provide.

Q: With Axium’s “people first” focus, it’s easy to see why you chose The Golden Rule as a guideline for how to treat your clients. When I think of The Golden Rule, I think of the phrase “treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Is that what Axium is trying to do?
AM: That’s exactly what we want. For us, this translates into our employees treating our clients with respect, listening to their needs and continuing to care about their success after the initial sale. We’ve taken a different approach, integrating sales and consulting, to make sure we are setting better expectations and delivering not only what our clients ask for but helping them ask even better questions. Our goal is to maintain a business partnership with each of our clients for a decade or longer. Some of our clients have been with us for more than 20 years.

Q: So, what’s on the horizon for Axium in the next five to ten years?
AM: As always, we’re completely committed to staying in the AE market space. It’s an exciting niche for us because we see compelling ways for us to help our clients become even more successful. Our goal is to become the most used project-based accounting software in the AE space in the next few years. If we can help our clients work more productively and keep our employees happy, I’m confident we’ll continue to experience financial success as well.

——————————————————————————————-

During his 25 years in the AE industry, Mills has consulted with a variety of firms around the country in their quest for better financial, firm and project management software. At Axium, he is in charge of operations, marketing, sales, product development, support and client services.

3 Key Areas to Improve Firm Management & Ensure Project Excellence

 
September 7th, 2011 by Julie Ginn

Free Best Practice Webinar for Architecture and Engineering Firms

Webinar Led by Dave Burstein, Director, PSMJ

Reduce Project Losses
Write-offs and projects overruns can kill your profits. Yet, most firms don’t see them coming soon enough and are forced to deal with how to handle these challenges on a crisis basis. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Reducing project losses begins with good time-entry procedures and getting project managers up-to-date information so they can make course corrections that save project profit.

Burstein will show you how the best performing firms combine accounting data with project status information from project managers to give you an early warning system that helps you avoid budget overruns. More importantly, you’ll learn how to do it in a way that your PMs will actually enjoy!

Maximize Cash on Hand
Managing cash flow is more important today than ever before. But, most firms don’t even track a critical metric that accounts for 1/3 of a firm’s cash flow.

Burstein will tell you what that factor is, why it’s important to track it regularly, and how to benchmark your results with other firms like yours. He’ll also tell you what the best A/E firms do to speed up their invoicing and collections.

Optimize Utilization of Your Resources
Most principals obsess over labor utilization and are constantly working to reduce overhead. Yet, PSMJ’s research shows that focusing on these metrics produces relatively small profit improvements. Get out of the rut of working harder to achieve ever smaller increases in labor utilization, while seeing minimal improvements in your profits!

Burstein will tell you what the really big profit drivers and where to focus to ramp up your firm’s profits. You’ll learn why PSMJ’s Circle of Excellence firms averaged over 22% profit in 2010, compared with less than 10% profit for average performing firms.

Register Now!

David Burstein, P.E.
As the Director of Client Services for PSMJ Resources, Inc., David provides consulting and training services on the subjects of strategic planning, marketing, project management, human resources, quality, finance and ownership transition. He has over 30 years’ experience in the management of AE firms, including senior principal for one of the nation’s largest and most respected engineering firms, Parsons Corporation.

Since 1979, David has written and lectured extensively on the subject of project management and has conducted over 100 seminars to over 3,000 engineers, architects and other design professionals. He co-authored Project Management for the Design Professional and Total Quality Project Management.

About Axium
Axium helps streamline difficult processes and increase profitability with easy-to-use accounting software and project management software for engineers and architects.

Axium provides software solutions specifically for project-focused AE firms ranging in size from 10-person design studios to large, multi-location companies.

Fundamentals of Finance and Accounting for Engineers and Architects

 
July 27th, 2011 by Julie Ginn

You know how to be an architect or engineer, but when it comes to the financial side of the business, it doesn’t come as easy.  For principals, or those who wish to be a principal someday, it’s imperative that they understand the key financial metrics for an AE firm.  Gaining greater knowledge about finance and accounting will also take your firm’s profitability and even your relationships with your clients, to a new level.

In this AE Best Practice Webinar available on-demand, veteran AE financial expert Ian Rusk discusses the fundamentals of accounting, financial statements, fiscal performance, and future planning in terms familiar to engineers and architects.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Fundamental aspects of accounting for AE firms that architects and engineers need to know
  • The basics of how to read and interpret financial statements such as an income statement and balance sheet
  • Important measures of financial and project performance you should be monitoring
  • Understanding and tracking forward looking financial metrics
  • The importance of cash flow management and how you can help

Watch It Now!

About Axium
Axium helps streamline difficult processes and increase profitability with easy-to-use accounting software and project management software for engineers and architects.

Easiest Way to Increase Firm Profits?

 
July 14th, 2011 by Julie Ginn

Two-Part AE Best Practice Webinar Series July 21st & July 28th

The most successful firms make financial information about projects available to their project managers at any time.  Projects are more profitable when project managers monitor time entry daily, watch how they’re trending on budgets in real-time, and view client invoices throughout the life of a project.

Part 1 (July 21st): How Project Managers Can Better Control Costs and Increase Project Profits

In this best practices webinar, you’ll learn:

  • 6 specific areas you should work to integrate the efforts of accounting with your project managers
  • 6 ways to help spur a better time-entry culture
  • 2 ways you can determine the ROI on internal work-flow changes
  • Steps you can take to have more successful project reviews with your project team that will help control costs and increase profits

Architecture and Engineering Best Practice Webinar

Part 2 (July 28th: How Has Successful Accounting & Project Management Integration Impacted Your Firm?

In part two, you’ll hear real-world examples, as employees from firms share how they’ve improved their accounting and project management processes and the specific financial and cultural impact it’s having at their firm.

You’ll hear:

  • What a truly integrated project looks like and the ways it is positively impacting other firms
  • The key data that is being put in project manager’s hands in real-time and how it is improving their projects
  • How others have created a billing process even project managers love
  • And much more!

Architecture and Engineering Best Practice Webinar

About Axium
Axium helps streamline difficult processes and increase profitability with easy-to-use accounting software and project management software for engineers and architects.

10 Things You Can Do to Win More Federal Contracts

 
July 5th, 2011 by Julie Ginn

10 Things You Can Do to Win More Federal Contracts

The federal government publishes hundreds of solicitations every day on a publicly accessible website.  Within 15 minutes, you can generate a long list of upcoming procurements for architectural, engineering, or environmental consulting services.

But aside from creating a tall stack of paper, what does this achieve?  Without a clear understanding of the market and a real strategy that plays to your firm’s strengths, the answer is: more confusion.

In this FREE best practice webinar on July 14th, you’ll learn 10 things you can you do in the next 10 weeks to win more contracts.  You’ll get 10 action items in the following four categories:

  • Identify 5 near-term and 5 longer-term federal contracts that you can win. After 10-weeks, you should have five tangible, near-term contract pursuit opportunities in hand and an equal number of longer-term opportunities.
  • Perform actionable market research. You’ll learn how to find out which federal agencies are the leading purchasers of the types of A/E, environmental, or other services that your firm provides and how much of these services they procure in your geographic areas of interest.
  • Kick-start the development of relationships that will yield results in the federal market. We’ll teach you how to identify at least 100 specific people with whom you should start to build an effective federal network.
  • Improve your proposal writing infrastructure. You’ll walk away with specific steps you can take to see tangible improvements in the next 10 weeks.

Webinar Presenter:

Dave Alexander of Lincoln Strategies, LLC, has more than 30 years of experience in the federal market.  He has helped many professional services firms, including some of the nation’s largest A/E and environmental firms, win federal contracts.

Watch This AE Best Practice Webinar Now!

About Axium
Axium helps streamline difficult processes and increase profitability with easy-to-use accounting software and project management software for engineers and architects.

Happy Clients, Greater Profits & More Referrals

 
October 27th, 2010 by Julie Ginn

Would you like to operate better than your competition, take steps to ensure your clients are happy throughout a project and generate more referrals for your firm?  Of course you would.

However, research indicates the overwhelming majority of professional services firms (architects, engineers, lawyers, etc.) do not solicit feedback from their clients. If your firm has a comprehensive strategy for gathering client feedback, then you already know the impact it can have to your relationships and your bottom line.

It’s no surprise that when clients feel that their voice is valued and is being heard, it builds a stronger relationship.  If the feedback is negative, you’ve got an opportunity to address their concerns and show them that you’re committed to finding a resolution.  Feedback at the right time can actually save a job from going south.

Conversely, when you receive positive feedback, you’ve got an opportunity to turn those clients into your advocates.  Happy clients will share their experience with people in the industry.  They will even be willing to talk directly to someone who is considering working on a project with your firm.

So, why do so many firms not collect client feedback?  More importantly, how can your firm develop a system that can track clients and help fine tune processes that will increase profitability?

Axium recently offered a free, two part webinar that will take you through a 10 step feedback system and show firm leaders how client feedback will:

·      Increase project profitability

·      Reduce mistakes and project liability

·      Boost client satisfaction and marketing effectiveness

·      Increase staff satisfaction and accountability

·      Improve staff training and assignments

Click here to watch:  Learn Why Firms Collecting Client Feedback Are More Profitable and How To Join Their Ranks

Swag bags, sunscreen and sore feet

 
June 23rd, 2010 by Julie Ginn

The Survival Guide to the 2010 AIA National Convention

If you’re like me, you’re recovering from the 2010 AIA National Convention and the Miami heat and humidity.

I’d never been to the AIA show before so it was amazing for me to see the staggering number of new products, technologies and services. This year’s convention showcased the new, the old and the bold from more than 800 exhibitors. I was one of them.

If you didn’t get a chance to stop by our booth, check out Axium’s Find Your Happy Place campaign online or watch an interview from Dan Laun, Axium Sales Director, about our contest.

By the way, do you wonder what exhibitors are doing while everyone else is watching presentations? We’re checking out what everyone else has to offer. That means I have the unique perspective of being both an exhibitor and an attendee — which meant putting a lot of mileage on my shoes.

I came up with a checklist of what to do, where to go and what you shouldn’t bring with you when you attend next year’s AIA Convention. Think of it as an AIA Expo Survival Guide:

Wear comfortable walking shoes — the really comfortable kind. You’ll walk almost as much as you talk.

Bring two swag bags: a good “over the shoulder” bag and an extra backpack. You will be picking up lots of catalogs, samples and goodies. Yes, goodies, from pens and magnets to beach balls, candy and other freebies. If you travelled to the show, allow enough room in your suitcase or bring along an empty backpack for the swag, like the free stuffed animals wearing a logo t-shirts that were too cute to pass up.

Business cards are the currency of choice – fill your pockets with them. Make sure you bring plenty of business cards to the event. You want to be able to give out your contact information to vendors, while getting theirs as well.

Set goals. Have a goal of what you want to accomplish, such as which vendors to visit, what presentations to attend and which new product lines you’d like to see. Set appointments with any vendor you’d like to meet with during the show.

See you nex year in New Orleans!

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