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Archive for March, 2010

Three Things You Should Do Now to Prepare Your A/E Firm for the Economic Turnaround

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Along with all of the recent economic doom and gloom, there have been a few small signs that the sky is not actually falling. The downturn continues to affect most of us in one way or another, and although it has definitely created hair-pulling times for the A/E industry, it does seem like a small light at the end of the tunnel is appearing.

Now that things are beginning to pick up, it’s time to start laying the ground work so your firm is in the best position when recovery arrives. So how can you begin to prepare?
1. Plan your rehiring strategy – now.

This is a great time to determine where more people will be needed when demand picks up. Firms that are prepared with updated job descriptions and a clear hiring process will have their pick of the best-of-the-best applicants who have either been laid off or delayed plans to job hop.

2. You know that business plan you wrote eons ago? Dust it off and re-write it.

Rewriting your business plan makes you sit down and think about the direction you want to take your firm. Understanding your company’s unique value proposition is the key to standing out from your competitors.

3. Monitor, measure and take action

Think about what you’ve learned from your mistakes, and how you’ll do things differently as the economy improves. In the last two years, firms have learned to squeeze every dime out of every project. Make sure you have the right people and right tools in place to continue this practice. Consider purchasing project management software to allow you to monitor and measure a project’s progress so you can quickly identify scope creep and act on it.

It’s easy to blow off these suggestions when you’re busy dealing with today’s economy and today’s problems. But keep in mind if you don’t prepare for the rebound now, you might miss one of the greatest opportunities to change your firm’s culture in the way you’ve always wanted.

How human behavior affects software implementation success

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

To a large extent, implementation success depends on human behavior. Oftentimes the real key to success lies in two critical components: the right person leading the process and an honest evaluation of a firm’s readiness for change. Every person has a different tolerance level for change, and motivation and education goes a long way to easing uncertainty and fear. If you’re looking at implementing new software, one of the most important factors you should consider is human nature.

Make sure your expectations are realistic, not idealistic
Don’t underestimate the time it’ll take to make a shift in your firm’s cultural habits and processes. At the outset of the implementation, you should consider lowering expectations to allow some time for user adoption. It’s important to keep in mind that software is a tool but it will be real humans who make it work. It’s good to pinpoint who will be your champions, and who will dig their heels in. Sometimes the best course of action is a limited roll-out before extending the software to the rest of the organization to gauge peoples’ response.

Communication, Motivation, Education
Articulating the value of new software to every person affected is key. Remember to emphasize what the firm is trying to accomplish instead of presenting a list of software features. People can relate to end goals. Take a close look at the processes in place now – which ones work and which ones should be revamped – and illustrate how new software can not only fix what’s been broken, but can make everyone’s job a little easier.

In today’s constantly evolving competitive arena, change is something that cannot be avoided if a company is going to survive. Most people do not love nor crave change. This is why it’s necessary to do an honest assessment of your people and your current culture before you begin the implementation process. In the end, it’s going to be the individual users who will determine whether or not your firm will get the most value out of a software investment and achieve the goals the change is intended to drive.

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