Posts tagged ‘Project Management’

Whose billable time is it, anyway?

Babette Burdick
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

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What is your time worth? To you, your company, clients and end users of your products and services?

When does the value that you perceive you bring to your company become less-than-valuable?

There is a fine art in bringing projects in on-time and at or under budget. And in this economy, that fine line is becoming razor sharp. Delighting customers and exceeding expectations may result from the economics of the project rather than cutting edge design that carries a high price tag and unappreciative end users.

This week, some project engineers and I were discussing how to tell when a project is complete.  They related how they are continually striving to make the project outcome better, add more enhancements, ask more questions of the client, constantly refine the design and contents of the project…. until their managers start breathing down their necks wondering why the project hasn’t been completed.

Let’s face it. It’s the nature of the engineering discipline. Analysis, design, improvement, redesign. Plan-Do- Check-Act. To infinity and beyond.  Except, very few clients hire engineers and technical specialists simply to think….and think….and think.   If that were true, we could all go to the mailbox each day and receive a huge check for all the great thoughts we had during the week before.  I don’t think so.

Billable time. You know what that is.  And you know the rate that you or your company bills out your time. The question becomes whether or not your company recovers that cost in terms of profit on your project.

Civil Engineers enjoy challenges and are tremendous analytical thinkers. They do, however, sometimes confuse discussing a potential project with being engaged in business development (aka, “sales”). For you civil engineers who have been thrust into a sales role without understanding the dynamics of a sales conversation, beware. Engineers are notorious at spinning out ramifications of a design, constantly asking “what if?” of themselves and other engineers. And thinking they are “selling.”

How many times has an engineer from one company called up an engineer from your company (you, perhaps?) to kick things around… on a project that is neither approved nor funded? An hour later, on your company’s dime, you/ your engineer has provided lots of consultative design insights to the other engineer. And your company never is awarded the project, if they are even asked to bid on it. And for those companies who have been forced to rely on the bid process on public projects, your profit margins are being squeezed to bare minimum.

While this scenario has been more common in the manufacturing arena, it may become more prevalent as less staff attempts to provide more functionality within civil engineering firms.

While I’m not suggesting that you dumb-down your project design and/or management efforts, I am asking you to consider how many of your projects are brought in on-time and at- or under-budget? Do you hold things up or move things forward? Do you understand when you have arrived at the best solution, although it may not be the optimal one?

Ask yourself what the gross and net profit of these projects are to your company. What was your billable time and at what rate? What is your salary?

Now you can begin to calculate what your time is worth and the value that you bring to your company. Working in a vacuum outside the context of the bigger picture surrounding your role is not a viable strategy in any economy. Especially this one.

Think about it.

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

March 1, 2010 at 10:20 pm Leave a comment

Are You Doing The Heavy Lifting?

Babette Burdick
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Babette Burdick Head ShotFeatured Guest Blogger: Babette Burdick
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies
Connect With Babette On Linkedin Linkedin Logo
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

At the 2008 Pack Expo, after a successful presentation, one of my colleagues complemented me and told me I really knew how to do the heavy lifting on a project. I had never heard the phrase before (yes, sometimes it’s like I live under a rock). It’s just the way I do things, and the way the folks I respect go about their business.  After he explained the phrase to me, I thanked him and thought to myself : “Is there any other way to do things?”

I got curious. And being an observer, I started paying attention to Random Episodes Of Heavy Lifting throughout 2009.

I found out there weren’t any. Random acts, that is.

Heavy Lifting is a conscious decision. You Heavy Lifters out there, you know who you are. Some of you own your own companies. Others of you have incredible working relationships across departments within your organization. You may not even be the top dog or the top salesperson or the top achiever. You may not even be a world leader or the captain of the team. You are, however, known as being The Person To Go To: the individual who brings excellence and perspective to the task at hand.

Heavy Lifters are not the same folks as the Hard Workers. Nor are they the same folks as the Savvy Employees. This isn’t about churning and burning or game playing. It pretty much encompasses your  code of personal ethics, which you carry into your work ethics. You either do the work, and do it thoroughly and most excellently, or you don’t do it at all. And you encourage others to join you in doing excellent work. You bring out the best in your collaborators. And you inspire. Because ultimately, when you present, you evangelize because you believe in what you and your team are doing. You plant Possibilities in the minds of others.

Heavy Lifters do not Go Through The Motions. They are not Smiling Joes. Heavy Lifters do not survive because of thin veneers or changing agendas. There is no recipe for Heavy Lifting. You learn by doing. You do so because it’s part of who you are.  And you are not afraid of falling flat on your face, trying.

So who are the Heavy Lifters in your organization? Are they recognized? Are you in a position to recognize them? Do I need to suggest that you recognize them? And incorporate them into your team, if you haven’t already done so?

I’ve had so many extraordinary client discussions in the past few weeks with Owners who are entrepreneurial yet fiscally rooted. They have done the due diligence and heavy lifting to move their organizations out of the economic mire, in a forward direction.

I’m having some wonderful LinkedIn discussions with engineers who have done the heavy lifting necessary to implement change management into their organizations, resulting in new product or service capabilities.  And the potential for creating new revenue streams.

These are the Heavy Lifters. They end up moving mountains, but not alone. They are ordinary folks who become extraordinary simply because they don’t back down in their belief in what they bring to the table on behalf of their organization.  And they have vision – which means they always have their eye NOT on the prize…. but on the horizon.

We are in the midst of creating a new economic business paradigm shift. And perhaps we are making it up, winging it, as we go along. Aren’t most paradigm shifts achieved in this manner?

What can you bring to your organization by shifting your focus to the horizon? Or taking a 50,000 foot eagle’s eye view of your organization? Are you capable of heavy lifting? It shouldn’t be something to shy away from. It’s probably always been your forte. Perhaps you have dumbed it down for various reasons.

Wouldn’t it be so much more comfortable to do what you do naturally?

Are you a Heavy Lifter?

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civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

Trust Me, I’m an (Unlicensed) Architect
If you don’t have an architectural license, it’s illegal to call yourself an architect or perform architectural services—but people still do. Who are they, who’s policing them, and can they be stopped?

November 4, 2009 at 10:49 pm 2 comments


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