10 questions for the A/E industry for 2020

Morrissey Goodale is providing A/E leaders with news and perspective on COVID-19 and its impact on the industry. This week, they offer advice for the second half of 2020.

By Morrissey Goodale July 13, 2020
Iconic high-rise commercial buildings in Chicago. Courtesy: CFE Media

Morrissey Goodale is providing A/E leaders with news and perspective on COVID-19 and its impact on the industry. This week, they offer advice for the second half of 2020.

10 questions for the second half of 2020

As you lead your firm into the second half of this extraordinary year, we offer 10 questions to challenge your thinking about how to be successful in the New Reality for the A/E industry.

  1. Why are you investing so much time and effort getting your employees back “to the office”? What competitive advantage- if any- does this provide your firm? You may not like this remote working model but it’s here for the foreseeable future. Maximizing your firm’s potential in this new environment is where your focus needs to be.
  2. How are you addressing the massive pent up burn-out that your employees are feeling? Longer hours, incessant (and largely unnecessary) video calls, worries about the economy and public-health – they are taking a massive toll on your professional, technical, and corporate talent. What is your leadership team doing to address these issues and enhance engagement?
  3. How will you integrate your recent new hires that have never set foot in your offices? Have you assigned them a mentor? Is someone intentionally connecting with them weekly to accelerate their connection to your brand in this new remote working model?
  4. Why are you still marketing like it’s 2019? You’re eating the seed corn of existing relationships to get you through 2020. That’s all well and good. But how are you going to develop and on-board new client relationships for 2021 and beyond now that their travel and meeting policies are more restrictive? How are you going to build new relationships?
  5. Why are you selling like its 2019? If yours is like many firms, your best client relationships have been built over 20-plus years and are embodied in the personal relationships of your more senior and tenured managers. But managers with that tenure are now either approaching or squarely in a high-risk demographic, which is a problem for on-site meetings in the New Reality. This situation is going to diminish their effectiveness in retaining those client relationships. How will you ensure those client relationships continue?
  6. Do you know what your virtual brand is? How are your client-facing professionals “showing up” for virtual meetings? Do you have a consistent virtual background that reflects and reinforces your brand? Have you invested in state-of-the-art cameras and audio equipment so that your team looks and sounds better than your competition? What’s your team’s “look” on calls with clients? Business casual or surfer casual?
  7. Are you making it easy for clients to engage with your team? Are you forcing them to interact with you on your preferred platforms (for most A/E firms these are ZoomMS Teams, or GoToMeeting)? Or are you able to engage with them on their preferred platforms? Regardless, do all of your client-facing folks know all of the bells, whistles, and features of these platforms to fully connect with your clients?
  8. For what purpose, if at all, are you deploying Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality? To collaborate internally? To get work done? To help your clients? As an accelerator for innovation? It should be at least for one – and preferably for all – of these.
  9. How are you taking advantage of your reduced costs? You’ve been trying forever to control rising expenses. And now since March, you’re benefitting from the greatest unintentional windfall in your history. Your expenses have dropped dramatically. Sure, it may be a problem with your overhead for next year with public sector clients, but it’s a great opportunity to invest in technologies, branding, and people. How are you investing this windfall?
  10. How are you connecting with your communities? While only 25% of your team may be working from your offices, your firm is still a part of the communities where you have your physical footprint. Your last strategic plan placed an emphasis on community involvement. How are you going to engage with your communities going forward? More or less?

Industry M&A is down 19% year over year.  It has been holding at this pace for the past two weeks. Our prediction back in March was that industry consolidation could fall 20%. We still think that is where the year will end up based on the increased M&A activity we are seeing around the country.

This article originally appeared on Morrissey Goodale’s website. Morrissey Goodale is a CFE Media content partner.


Morrissey Goodale