AEC Firms: Securing Budget Amidst Covid-19

When’s the last time you had a day of work without a discussion that included Covid-19? If you can’t remember, you’re certainly not alone. These unprecedented times are unsettling for everyone – both personally and professionally. While by now most AEC firms have transitioned to remote work, the full impact Covid-19 will have on the economy is looming in many our minds. It’s almost as if we were driving along on a warm summer day, windows down, with a cool breeze running through our hair,  and then all of a sudden, we encounter a fog so thick that we can no longer see what’s on the road ahead.   

Do these uncertain times mean that it’s time for businesses to hit the brakes on spending? Absolutely not. In fact, now is a better time than ever to invest in tools that: 

•Give your business a competitive advantage 

•Make your  team more efficient 

•Support collaboration in a remote work setting 

•Save your company time and money  

Unfortunately, there can be a disconnect between those who need a solution and the decision maker who controls budget. You may be thinking, in the best of times it’s difficult to justify spending to solve a problem the decision maker will never experience firsthand… how can I possible secure budget during these uncertain ones?  

We understand the struggle and have provided a list of tactics to help you secure budget for the tools you need amidst these uncertain timesbelow: 

1.Focus on ROI (Return on Investment):   

There is an endless number of amazing tools out there that make your job easier, more fun, or are just downright nice to have. However in these times, you’re most likely to get approval for tools that have a quantifiable ROI.  For example, many of our customers tell us that they secured budget for UNIFI by quantifying the amount of time it would save for their organization. UNIFI saves designers over 200 hours a year (or more than an entire working month), which means it doesn’t only pay for itself, it will also ultimately save your firm money.  

Be sure to highlight that while initial budget is required for tools that have a quantifiable ROI, over time they save the firm time and money, which ultimately means your business comes out ahead. Additionally, keep in mind that some of the vendors you’re evaluating may have actually done most of the legwork for you and have ROI calculatorhandy where they can plug in your firm’s unique numbers to show the value of their product in dollars. Don’t hesitate to ask them to help you calculate the ROI you’ll get from their product, which you can pass on to your higher ups. Click here to download UNIFI’s ROI calculator now.  

2. Don’t just say, SHOW the problem (preferably in numbers): 

It’s true… your CFO will probably never understand firsthand the frustration of spending 5-10 minutes to find the Revit content you’re looking for (and only to find out it’s outdated at that!). While they might care about your feelings, this alone is not enough to motivate them to sign on the dotted line. Communicate the problem in the language that speaks to them, numbers. Collect data to estimate how frequently the problem you’re facing occurs, how many employees it’s negatively effecting, and the time it takes to solve it in your current workflow. Then, show them how the tool you’re looking to implement will solve your problem and save your firm time and money. We have created a template of a deck that does just that you can download free at the link below. 

Concrete examples help as well. When a Senior Design Technologist at a leading architectural firm was presenting the business case for investing in UNIFI to his firm’s partners, he asked them to imagine how much time is being wasted when three designers are at risk of creating the same family because they have no visibility into what content already exists in the firm’s library. That mental image immediately hit home with the executives!  

3. Highlight how the tool works with and enhances remote work:  

Given the current times, even the best tool out there with a sizable ROI won’t be approved unless it can easily be used in a remote setting. Cloudbased solutions, or other tools that can be used anywhere, are ideal. In addition, since the current day to day is already more turbulent than usual given the uncertain times, ensure that the training process is straight forward, so that you can highlight to the higher ups the simple implementation of the tool you’re interested in. Emphasize that it won’t disrupt, but instead enhance, your team’s current workflows.  

4. Put yourself in the CFOS/decision maker/budget managers shoes:  

Those in control of the budget are in a tough bind with the current times. Keep this in mind and approach the conversation around obtaining budget with the utmost empathy. Reiterate that you’re on the same team and focus on how the tool you’re looking to implement won’t only help you, but your entire organization.  

Even though you can’t have an inperson meeting right now, be sure to approach this conversation in the most personal setting as possible. While email is great, a lot of communication including tone, body language, etc. is lost. We recommend scheduling a callusing your webcam, and preparing a presentation. For those of you looking to secure budget for a content management system or UNIFI, we’ve created a template slide deck that you can use to prepare a presentation that will help demonstrate the thought you’ve put into the evaluation to your leaders.  

In addition to these tips, always remember that the sales rep you’re working with is a human too and you never know what’s possible when you transparently explain your circumstances to them. There’s an extensive list of companies offering help at this time and at UNIFI we’ve offered free additional licenses for our current customers and flexible licenses for any AEC firm to help them in the transition to remote work for the first time in company history. 

We hope these tips help and you’re able to get the tools you need to succeed. Please let us know in the comments below, what are some tactics you’ve used to successfully secure budget with a decision maker in tough economic times? 

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