A Global Engineering Firm Realizes Productivity Gains and Business Process Efficiencies with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and aec360

Replacing disparate and aging point solutions with a single integrated system provides greater visibility and control across firm-wide operations

Company Overview

Established in the early 1970s, this specialty consulting engineering firm has evolved into a respected global firm, known for deep technical expertise and the ability to solve the most demanding building performance, climate engineering, and environmental challenges. Today, the firm has offices in Canada, the US, India, the United Kingdom, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Australia.

The Challenge: Integrate key business areas to drive efficiencies

The firm was running its business on a collection of separate business systems – some were best-in-class, some were not, and some were simply showing their age. These systems were not integrated, leading to inefficiencies in business processes, redundant data entry, lack of real-time visibility into financial and project-related data, and limited insight into future revenue projections.

“Our prior ERP software didn’t support our project and resource management needs, so we kept track of the status and progress of our projects outside of our ERP system, mostly in spreadsheets,” said the firm’s PMO Manager and Principal. “Everyone had their own version of the truth and there was limited visibility and transparency across the organization.”

Driven by an aging ERP platform that would soon be out of support, the firm embarked on a process to evaluate technologies that would help drive better integration across the business. As a first step in the process, the firm hired a consulting firm to help it rethink its key business processes before moving to the ERP evaluation stage. This step would allow the firm to identify opportunities for improving operations prior to evaluating the capabilities of new ERP solutions under consideration.

The firm decided to replace its ERP and CRM systems with an integrated solution to address both current and future needs across its marketing and business development, project management, human resources, and financial management processes. The new solution needed to:

  • Provide better controls around pursuits, resource management, and project costs
  • Improve visibility of key project performance metrics
  • Accelerate project billing practices to improve cash flow
  • Increase efficiency levels across business areas through better integration
  • Offer more real-time reporting insights to drive informed decision-making

Flexibility was a key attribute the firm was looking for in a new system. "We go after the more complex projects, not cookie-cutter ones,” said the PMO Manager. “We consult with the client and leverage our experience to run the project the way it needs to be run, so we needed a system that would be flexible enough to support that approach."

The Benefits: Integration provides end-to-end insights and a measurable ROI

The firm has seen significant productivity gains across the business since implementing Dynamics 365 and aec360. "For example, we can now track purchase orders from the initial request all the way through to final receipt," said the PMO Manager. "And from an HR perspective, everything is done in the system, from hire to retire. This has greatly improved our efficiency levels."

As for the marketing and business development areas, with Dynamics365 and aec360, the firm can better respond to prospective new clients, track new project leads, and determine which opportunities to pursue. The firm now has a 360-degree view of its clients—with all contact information, email communications, client interactions, and RFP responses accessible from one place. Many of the firm’s marketing processes are more efficient as well, including responding to client emails, preparing proposal documents, and progressing leads to opportunities to awarded projects.

The firm also has better visibility into important business information. Using Power BI and the aec360 business intelligence solution, it is easy to consolidate data from across various business functions and gain real-time reporting across the global organization.

The PMO Manager estimates that the firm will see an ROI of a year or less from reducing manual and redundant data entry alone." Dynamics365 and aec360 are helping us be a stronger consultant for our clients when it comes to building relationships and seeing how those relationships develop through the course of our projects and beyond," he said. "Another advantage is the ability to leverage our project data to forecast future revenue, a process that is much more accurate with Dynamics365 and aec360 than it was previously."

Future plans: AI for greater insights

The firm is looking forward to leveraging the capabilities of Dynamics 365 and aec360 for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to gain greater insights into the business.

"We have more data now than we ever have. And that data is our own, so we're not relying upon something in published papers or other public sources,” said the PMO Manager. “Using AI tools from Microsoft and HSO, we will leverage this data to help us focus on those things that create value for our firm and our clients. AI will help us manage our business more effectively and highlight business trends or insights to help us be more proactive."

The PMO Manager summed it up succinctly: "We had ambitious goals. We looked at all those parameters and felt that HSO and Microsoft offered the best solution for our business. And I think it's turned out to be very successful.”

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