In a webinar from Deltek about the implementation of potent digital technology in engineering businesses, engineering firm ADG tells us about how they achieved an entirely new and improved level of communication and collaboration during and since the COVID-19 shutdowns.
This is the second of a four-part series complementing the webinar organised by Deltek titled “Survive and thrive by harnessing the power of digital technology”. It features Ryan Latchford, Chief Financial Officer at multi-disciplinary Australian engineering firm ADG.
Given the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic when it first appeared, it was vital that organisations responded quickly and with clarity. ADG formed a centralised COVID-19 response team, which immediately rolled out a threat mitigation strategy and business continuity plan.
The plan was originally intended to combat the specific challenges of the pandemic, and to keep communication and information flowing freely, allowing the business to keep operating efficiently until things went back to normal. However, it wasn’t long before ADG discovered two important facts.
The first was that this pandemic would have long-lasting effects on the way businesses operate in the future. The second was the surprising and extremely positive fact that the system of internal communication the company had put in place, which would temporarily replace face-to-face communication, proved to yield a number of unplanned improvements on both a corporate and personal level.
“We began with a monthly ‘state of the nation’ update,” says Latchford. “This quickly evolved into a business update where we talked less and less about COVID-19 and more and more about all of the exciting things happening in our business.
“At first, our Managing Director and I were doing most of the talking, but then we started to invite some of our other talented team members across each of our offices to present on anything from new projects to new, strategic initiatives. The engagement from our team members, the sheer numbers of people dialling in to these sessions, and the feedback we’ve received have all been enormously positive.”
The result of the introduction of technology into the communication process, Latchford says, was greater clarity, consistency and immediacy of messaging across the entire business. Whether in a small or a large office, on-site or working from home, every person in the company received equal airtime, consistent messaging and entirely new opportunities for collaboration.
That uniformity and regularity of messaging and collaborative engagement flagged other areas in which ADG could seek improvement. One initiative that was already well underway, but gained importance in light of the pandemic, was the integration of software solutions that ensured data could be shared more effectively and transparently.
“We use a lot of different software in terms of engineering, modelling, design, drafting, and so on,” Latchford says. “While we use a lot of large commercial project software, a lot of our software packages are also quite bespoke. Trying to get those pieces of software to talk to each other is something we’ve been working on as part of our ADG Digital Strategy, which draws on skillsets across both our engineering and IT disciplines. This improves both efficiency and quality, and ultimately improves the end product for our clients.”
Part of that process of technological evolution and improvement is the implementation of the project-based enterprise resource planning system Deltek Vantagepoint, a process that Latchford is heading up within ADG. The business had been working on it since before the pandemic, but it is now accelerating the process because its value in a disrupted marketplace has increased.
“We realised that if we’re going to use AI and machine learning, we needed to start off with accurate, relevant and clean data,” Latchford says. “The platform has to be broad enough to capture all of the useful, pertinent information, but simple in its application so that people intuitively know how to use it and don’t end up drowning in bad data.”
Artificial intelligence and machine learning, in fact, are going to play a major and vital role in the future of engineering, according to the recent Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Report, a survey of 600 senior executives and managers from the engineering and architecture businesses in the Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. Across the engineering sector, 72 per cent of respondents said AI would be an important ingredient in future success.
“We’ll be using Deltek Vantagepoint for live, real-time information that will inform the business’s decision-making around profitability of projects, hit-win ratios, business development pipelines, market segmentation, project delivery, resource allocation, and much more,” Latchford says. “It will provide data to help us make more well-informed decisions, which are equally necessary for performance and resilience, particularly in an uncertain market.”
To learn more about how senior business leaders are harnessing technology to steer their companies through the COVID-19 crisis register now for the webinar on 5th November.