When it comes to running your business, your gut instincts are reliable. After all, they’ve gotten you to this point. But, you can’t possibly take your firm to the next level based on hunches alone. Data is the way of the future, and leveraging that data to make important decisions leads to unbeatable business intelligence. With that in mind, here are four mission-critical reports for architecture and engineering (A&E) firms.
1. Workload Report: Future Planning
In a typical office, project managers are focused on clients—and, of course, their projects. That is until the time cards start rolling in or the month ends, at which point they may need to shift gears to ensure their people and their projects stay on track. That can be incredibly difficult to do without the right resource planning tool. After all, in a busy office, there's simply no way to monitor what people are doing on a day-to-day basis. As a result, it's nearly impossible to know when someone on your team is overworked, burned out, or stressed—until it’s too late. And when that happens, your staff and your clients suffer.
So what’s a conscientious A&E company to do? Leverage workload reporting. In Mosaic, you can use the Member View of Mosaic’s Workload Report (see above) to assess your team’s hours before they cross the 40-hour mark. With customizable time frames, you can pinpoint the planned hours for a team member, broken down by project, allowing project managers to properly assign—or reassign—future work based on availability. The PTO filter will also help you track who has upcoming time off, so +you can transfer any outstanding projects to someone else on the team (you’ll know who has the availability and skills necessary to step up based on the same report). That way, you’ll keep your team happy and your projects on schedule.
The Organization View is an excellent projection tool that can help you visualize how much work you have planned out of your firm’s available hours. For example, if a project manager or principal is reviewing a proposal, they can use this report view to determine whether there are enough available resources to take it on. If, say, this report shows that 75% is already planned, then you might have to pass on the project—or hire more people (for which, you'll want to review the Demand Report, which we’ll cover below). Combined, the Member View and the Organization View communicate the projects you can take on right now—and in the future.
2. Workload Forecast: 3-Month Projection
The Workload Forecast report details what’s been planned vs. what’s been spent, giving you insight into what work is coming down the pike for the company as well as for each role. That means you can use this report to not only track the accuracy of your proposals, but also catch and address discrepancies as they arise. If you’ve spent more than you planned at a certain junction, that’s not necessarily a bad thing—assuming the project is still profitable—but to properly resource, you need to understand the gaps and work toward accuracy. That requires digging into why you’ve spent more—or less—than you expected, and for that, you can access the next report on our list.
3. Time Variance Report: Project Phases
This report enables you to drill down into each project’s phases, so you can compare spent time to planned or budgeted hours, telling you exactly how long projects take. That way, project managers can better understand—and assess—their project hours and budget. For example, if you see that the design phase is costing more than what was planned, you can identify—and address—a potential loss before it gets worse.
You can also use this report to refine the proposal development process—to see what worked in the past and what didn’t. That way, proposals don’t vary based on which principals are completing them, and instead, every proposal is based on objective data. Overestimating time for projects may be rare, but going over budget is quite common, especially without proper resource planning tools.
4. Demand Report: Specific Needs
You may be able to look at your finances to determine if you need to hire, but you won’t necessarily be able to determine who you need to hire with that information alone. That’s where the Demand Report comes in. This report will show the workload of current staff by role, plus upcoming demand for those roles. With this report, you can quickly identify the specific roles you need to hire by comparing planned time with the role or person’s capacity. You can also use this report to understand the time frame in which you need additional headcount—and whether you have the workload to keep those employees busy long term. In other words, you’ll know not only whether you need to hire a designer, an engineer, an architect, or all three, but also when.
If the report shows you need help for the next two months—but not the next six months to a year—then you may be better off shuffling current workloads, offering overtime, or bringing on a contractor than you would be hiring a full-time employee whose utilization rate will drop as soon as the project is over—because that will only result in wasted money.