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5 ways to ditch the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality in your engineering firm

Engineering is a field that requires ambitious ideas, innovation and creative thinking. But for an industry that celebrates forward-thinking, why are engineers typically slow to embrace change when it comes to their technology, systems and processes?

‘We’ve always done it this way’ are six words that will instantly shut down a culture of innovation in your business, so we’ve put together some ideas to show you why it’s time to ditch the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality:

 

But-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way Bust #1: All right, stop. Collaborate and listen!

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If you picked up the reference to the late-80s pop song above, then you’re likely in the age-range of engineers who are slow to welcome the era of collaboration. Globalisation through technology has altered the way we do business, and we are able to collaborate in ways we never could before. By removing geographical limits we can engage the help of specialists or experts from all around the world.

Breaking down the silo mentality and collaborating with other firms, both locally and internationally, presents many great opportunities in regards to recruitment, project opportunities and lead-generation, as well as expanding the service you can provide to your own clients.

Try something new:

  • Look for synergies and potential partnerships with others in your industry or related fields and think about how a collaboration will benefit both businesses.
  • When hiring someone for a role at your firm, consider their attitude towards collaboration - do they have some established relationships that could benefit your business?

But-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way Bust #2: It’s time to take up technology

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If you’re still juggling piles of paperwork, spreadsheets and timesheets, then it’s time to file away all of the above under ‘Old School’ in your antiquated filing cabinet and throw away the key. Instead, cloud-based software solutions should be your new best friend. You can find various cloud software solutions to help you:

  • Quote
  • Job cost
  • Track time
  • Input timesheets
  • Store and share documents
  • Produce and pay invoices
  • View real-time financials
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Produce customised reporting

The remote access that cloud software allows means your team’s productivity will boom, your overheads will drop and your admin hours or personnel requirements will reduce - along with all the headaches it’s inclined to produce.

Try something new:

But-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way Bust #3: Move with the modern marketing trends

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Traditional marketing techniques such as print advertising, direct mail out and cold calling are no longer likely to be your most effective means of reaching potential customers. Think you don’t need a website? Think again. Your engineering firm needs to ensure that it is being found online - otherwise, customers will find your competitors first.

Similarly, don’t discount the power of social media (no, it is not just a fad, nor simply a Gen Y time-waster). Brands are now being built through online conversations; the idea is to build trust and establish relationships first, rather than doing a hard sell - and it takes more than just dishing out a few business cards.

Try something new:

  • Not all social media channels will be appropriate for your business, however LinkedIn is a great place to start building your reputation as an expert in your field.
  • Get in touch with decision-makers from potential leads directly through LinkedIn to establish strategic professional relationships.
  • There are also various industry groups where you can post relevant articles or news, including links back to your website.
  • If you need a little help when it comes to content for your website - we have some ideas that may be relevant to you.

But-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way Bust #4: Relax rigid hierarchies

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The traditional organisational hierarchy model is anachronistic. It fails to empower self-motivation, accountability and ownership within your team - which is something that Gen Y workers have come to expect. A corporate structure with less tiers shows that accountability and authority is the responsibility of the majority, rather than the managerial few.

Technology has introduced new ways of working, meaning that swift communication channels, instant collaboration and information sharing speeds up processes and reduces the requirement for the multi-layer management structures previously needed to organise large numbers of people.

Try something new:

  • Understand the value that a new way of doing things will bring to your business - Encouraging your staff to participate and engage in decision making will help make them feel valued in their roles.
  • Encourage staff members to think outside the box and suggest new ways of doing things or innovative approaches to systems and processes. If you are known as a firm that fosters this kind of culture you are more likely to attract and retain great engineering talent.

But-we’ve-always-done-it-this-way Bust #5: Find your niche

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In a globalised economy, your engineering firm will blend into the background if you are not working to become recognised as a leader in your field. While you may have traditionally offered a range of services, it may be time to focus on a particular area or project type where you can provide best-in-field services to a more targeted audience. The increase in competition and accessibility to cost-effective resources means you can longer sit back and assume you are still relevant.

Try something new:

  • Think about whether there is a particular aspect of your business that is the most profitable, or do you provide a service that is particularly innovative? Is there a particular type of client you prefer to work with? Focus your marketing initiatives around targeting these ideas.
  • Work on building your reputation as an industry expert through contributing articles and opinions through social media, online forums and industry magazines.

Are you in denial about your reluctance to move with the times?

You might want to check out this article by entrepreneur and marketer, Seth Godin entitled The Warning Signs of Defending the Status Quo. Have a read through the questions and take note of your responses - are you a staunch defender of the status quo in your business?

We hit road blocks when we only consider past precedents as the guiding force behind our decisions. That’s not to say that values and tradition are not important for providing a strong foundation for your company culture, but you need to ensure you’re not making ‘we’ve always done it this way’ an on-going strategy for your engineering firm.

Instead, a collaborative approach to projects, embracing technology, and harnessing new means of marketing are all ways that will ensure your firm’s future stays bright.

Are you inspired to make a change? In what ways are you exacting change in your engineering firm?

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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