Improving the Business Side of Engineering
By Becky White, Vice President/Organization Development, Sain Associates
Engineers in the private sector often complain that their college curriculum did not teach them anything about the business side of engineering. Typically they have to do that type of learning on the job. At Sain, we take seriously the responsibility to provide business-related training to our staff. Not only does that sort of training help us run a more efficient and profitable company, but we find that improved business skills help us deliver better quality services to our clients.
In preparing our strategic plan for 2017, we decided to take the commitment to business skills training to a higher level. To accomplish that goal, we contracted with June Jewell, a CPA and author of Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering & Environmental Firms, to host her Find the Lost Dollars: AEC Business Management Training Program. The Find the Lost Dollars program utilizes 10 interactive content modules to teach the disciplined practices that professional service firms must master to achieve a strong bottom line.
The Find the Lost Dollars program involves a combination of individual on-line learning and group meetings to reinforce and personalize each person’s learning. We required every person in the firm with management or accounting duties, including firm Principals, to participate. The program was administered over a period of ten weeks from April to June. Each participant was required to complete two course modules every two weeks and participate in the bi-weekly group meetings.
The response from our staff to the program was excellent. Everyone learned something new and participated actively in group discussions. It was interesting how many of the business practices were connected to strong project management. It was evident that improving our skills in the areas taught will help us be better service providers for our clients.
As an outcome of the program, we made a comprehensive list of action items that we need to accomplish together to improve our company. Some of the action items are already being acted upon, and others will be rolled into our 2018 strategic plan.
Completing the Find the Lost Dollars program took a high level of commitment and discipline from each participating employee. The hard work is paying off, though, and we had fun learning together.
To learn more about finding lost dollars, check out this video from June Jewell.