It’s Time to Move Beyond Basic Project Metrics

Author: Sarah Beckman

Engineering firms have always measured success based on specific project metrics such as reducing project delays and delivering on budget and time. These metrics are essential in project management, but they provide a limited perspective on the actual impact of the work we do. This limitation sells us, our work, and our clients short. It is time for the engineering industry to think bigger about how we measure success. It’s not just about project KPIs or metrics — it’s about value.

Although the work we do makes a huge impact on lives and communities, we don’t always tell that story. As engineers, we need to understand the value of our work is an active, day-to-day practice that requires us to look beyond what worked yesterday and consider what may work or be different in the future. It’s time for engineering firms to meet the rising expectations and value the impact of our work to support the recruitment and retention of top talent, increase employee engagement, and foster a collaborative environment.

The rising expectations of employees and companies have made it necessary for us to catch up with a rapidly evolving work environment, fluctuating access to construction materials, the transition to a carbon-neutral future, the advancement of new technology, and more. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, more than sixty percent of people will buy or advocate for a brand that shares their beliefs and values, and almost seventy percent of employees say having a societal impact is a strong determinant of whether they will accept or reject a job.

Additionally, brands with strong purpose exhibit greater trust and brand loyalty and consumers are four times more likely to trust the company, according to Deloitte Purpose Premium. And as the world faces unprecedented challenges, engineering firms and their leaders must set a positive, ethical example to meet weather obstacles.

So, how can we open the aperture to the actual impact of our work? The answer lies in finding trackable metrics that enable us to maximize positive impact across three inseparably linked pillars — clients, employees, and community. I see this as the “valuability” of engineering.

Valuability is the intentional and measurable ability to create value for clients, employees, and communities. In an age of accelerated and often disruptive change, it’s a mindset that distinguishes purpose-driven organizations from the competition. Valuability, or value creation, is about finding trackable metrics to maximize positive impact across those three pillars.

Valuability doesn’t just happen. It’s intentional. It’s about listening and then solving. When the health of each of these critical pillars — clients, employees, and community — is prioritized, the sum value equals more than that of its parts. Therefore, engineering firms can produce cumulative value that reflects and optimizes the strength of these individual trusted relationships.

For Clients: Encouraging clients to move beyond the mindset of delivering a successful project to thinking about how their project will have a short-term and long-term impact on communities and people. It is about working closely with clients to deliver on carbon-free objectives, to get electric vehicles on the road, to create a network that enables electrification, and more. In short, it’s about having an intentional and long-lasting impact.

For Employees: For successful valuability, we must ensure employees are happy, engaged, and have the space to create better solutions that bring value to the client and communities. Talent retention and an innovative mindset are critical to achieving success.

For Communities: Understanding everything we accomplish impacts the greater population. We know better solutions create better community infrastructure and improved quality of life.

To illustrate the impact of this approach, consider Ulteig, which provides infrastructure engineering, technical services, and consulting. Ulteig worked with a utility in the Western U.S. to develop a 10-year capital investment plan to address reliability wildfire concerns and incorporate distributed energy resources. In that process, the team evaluated capital improvement actions against weighted criteria to create a plan that best achieved the client’s long-term strategy, benefitted the community with better access to reliable and clean power, and efficiently leveraged capital budgets to keep customer bills low. This outcome could not have been accomplished without engaged employees who were all-hands-on-deck passionate about their work and felt supported to find unique solutions.

As engineering firms work with partners to set key performance indicators, it’s essential to keep these pillars in mind. We must measure the impact not just on our clients but also on our employees and communities. Valuability helps retain and grow the best talent, elevates the role of AEC in the world, and helps clients build strong reputations in their communities.

It’s time for engineering firms to step up and prioritize valuing their work as an active, day-to-day practice that considers the bigger picture and community impact. Ask yourself and your team, “How can we measure impact not just to our clients, but to our employees and community?” By doing so, engineering firms can maximize their impact and value and create a better future for all.

Read the published article here.

Source: T&D World, published 4/24/23