ARC Survey: Top Challenges for AEC Professionals

by ARC Document Solutions

This article was first published in the November 2015 newsletter from ARC Document Solutions. 

One thing that never gets old in business is knowing your customers. Adhering to our business philosophy, we consistently create opportunities to listen to our customers.

Early this month, we asked over 1,000 customers, professionals in the AEC industry (general architects, engineering companies and general contractors), about their views on challenges and trends in the AEC industry.  Our survey included professionals from large 1000+ employee enterprises as well as small boutique firms of ten people or less.

Here are the key insights.

1. TRENDS

An overwhelming majority, 93% of AEC professionals believe that increases in productivity and decreases in cost are most dependent on the adoption of new technology tools.

Respondents ranked universal online access, communication and collaboration solutions, and the ability to track budget in real-time as the top three capabilities that increase productivity and reduce project cost.

What are the Most Important Capabilities for Increasing Productivity and Reducing Cost?

  1. Communication tools to keep project team on track (79%)
  2. Online access for all project participants (69%)
  3. Tracking budget in real-time (62%)
  4. Intelligent scheduling needs and mobile access to project management lifecycle on any device (tied at 59%)
  5. Centralizing all projects in one place (45%)

Consistent with their responses regarding the importance of their communication capabilities, nearly 50% of all respondents indicated that leading cause of project delays were the use of incorrect or faulty drawings or specifications. The survey revealed that 1 in 4 (24.14%) AEC professionals personally print 200-499 documents a week. Thus, managing documents and information with or without technology is a clear contributor to both successes and obstacles in AEC industry practices.

2. CHALLENGES

When asked to rank the top infrastructure challenges facing North America,  a majority of 83% of respondents chose “Rebuilding Aging Infrastructure” as the top industry challenge, followed by “Building Clean Power Plants” (51%) and “Expansion of Projects Aimed at Securing Water” (48%). .

The Top Five Infrastructure Challenges in North America

  1. Rebuilding Aging Infrastructure (83%)
  2. Building Clean Power Plants (51%)
  3. Expansion of Projects Aimed at Securing Water (48%)
  4. Expanding on rail transit in cities (28%)
  5. Building High Speed Regional Rail (21%)

3. IMPACTS

When AEC professionals were asked, what is most likely to influence the practice of architecture and construction in the coming years, a majority 72% reported use of technology as the most important issue; followed by collaboration (45%), two issues that increasingly go hand-in-hand.

40% respondents rated demographic and environmental conditions as having primary impact on the way we design and build in the future. Only 31% believed new building materials are likely to make a big impact.

What will have the biggest impact in North American architecture and construction?

Changing Industry:

  1. Technology (72%)
  2. Collaboration (45%)
  3. New Building Materials (31%)

Global Events:

  1. Rising Population and Housing Needs (45%)
  2. Global Warming/Energy Efficiency (41%)

CONCLUSION

The results of the survey demonstrate that industry professionals have their priorities squarely on the most important issues facing our society and economy today. Technology continues to be a challenge. And they are increasingly turning to communication and collaboration technology to address these gaps in productivity and efficiency.