AECbytes: Tackling the Challenge of AEC Technical Report Management

Technical report deliverables are typically the most visible representation of a company’s service in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. All the expertise of the firm’s professionals is showcased in this critical deliverable—whether it’s a property condition assessment (PCA), construction monitoring report, structural evaluation report, or other technical report. While we don’t always view a report this way, it’s really the culmination of the team’s efforts and often the yardstick a client uses to measure the company’s work quality.

Yet for most AEC companies, technical report development is an exercise in frustration, a source of inefficiency, and a hindrance to growth and profitability. That’s especially true today, as businesses across the industry face a convergence of challenges.

Good Help is Hard to Find

Many of the industry-wide issues that are challenging AEC firms also hamper technical report development, making it difficult to create these deliverables efficiently and profitably.

The labor scarcity issue is a major problem that prevents AEC firms from developing high-quality reports in volume. In a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk, 85% of contractors had open craft positions and 88% were struggling to fill them. Even when you can find the right talent, retention is challenging. According to Deloitte’s 2024 Engineering and Construction Industry Outlook, the quit rate for the industry remains higher than changes due to layoffs or terminations demonstrating the difficulty in retaining skilled employees. With the AEC workforce aging and many nearing retirement, turnover is likely to rise. According to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, approximately 41% of AEC workers, including a sizable portion in management roles, expect to retire by 2031. This not only reduces workers available but also means there are fewer mentors to train the next generation.

And as the strength of the US job market continues to demonstrate, the labor shortage is a compounding problem with no quick or simple solution. As AEC projects grow more complex, regulations evolve, and client expectations rise, it becomes more vital (yet more difficult) to create technical report deliverables with a higher degree of quality, accuracy, and consistency.

These market realities make it tough to develop technical reports efficiently and profitably, at the level of quality clients demand, and at a scale that allows firms to compete for lucrative work. And since nearly every new business opportunity includes a technical report requirement, a sub-par process is a real constraint on growth.

Obstacles at Every Turn

Alongside these industry and labor issues, the very process AEC businesses have historically used to create technical reports presents its own obstacles.

For many companies, report development remains a mostly manual process that relies on multiple disconnected tools and offers no effective means for collaboration or process management. Duplicate data entry, siloed work conditions, and repetitive inefficiencies often result. From report setup and writing to project management, reviews, client changes/revisions, final assembly, and delivery, it can take multiple resources many hours to deliver quality technical reports. 

This approach not only slows the process (jeopardizing project timelines) and wastes staff time (which is already at a premium), but it also increases errors (reducing the deliverable quality).

Antiquated report development tools also create frustration and inefficiencies in the field. Just attempting to incorporate and caption hundreds of photos taken on site or move field notes into an appendix is a struggle requiring multiple steps. Consultants typically can’t perform these tasks until they’re back at the office so the odds of mistakes and turn-around-times go up making the process slow to a crawl.

Using labor-intensive, disparate tools to develop and deliver technical reports also makes it tougher to maintain accuracy and standardization—whether that’s across one report written and edited by multiple people or across entire report portfolios. Duplicate data entry causes errors, branding components are applied inconsistently, and verbiage that should be standard every time is unwittingly modified.

Making matters worse, most AEC businesses lack clear visibility into their technical report development and delivery process. Leaders might have a sense that it’s inefficient and not as profitable as it should be, but they rarely have the data needed to measure, benchmark, and improve the report development workflow and the overall process performance.

Taking a Fresh Approach to Technical Report Management

As AEC companies look to improve efficiency and profitability in a challenging environment, the technical report deliverable has become a prime target. Many are rethinking their approach to deliverable development, adopting technical report management (TRM) as a better way to develop and deliver the reports that showcase their service quality.

The TRM concept revolves around introducing sensible automation within each step in the deliverable development process and pairing a streamlined workflow with analytics that provide insight into process performance. This approach combines several components that speed and streamline the process, improve accuracy and standardization, and can turn the deliverable into a profitable venture. The most common components of a technical report management approach include:

  • Standardized workflows with automated workflow tasks (e.g. notifications, user access permissions, data insertion, etc.) that guide report writers and reviewers through each process step, logically and efficiently
  • Features that equip report writers to work faster and more efficiently, such as the ability to auto-populate data throughout and across reports or replace lengthy narratives with orderly tables that tell a story at-a-glance
  • Governance and control features, like content locking, enforced use of standard templates, and client-specific branding
  • Mobile data collection capabilities, allowing field teams to move content and images straight to the appropriate report without a trip back to the office
  • Integration with all the other systems and data sources an AEC company relies on when developing reports, like mapping tools, ERP systems, and environmental data providers
  • Analytics that enable senior leaders and project managers to make data-driven decisions about optimizing technical report development

With technical report management, some AEC companies have reduced report development time by up to 70% and received an increase of up to 50% in report approvals on the first submission.As AEC companies seek new ways to overcome efficiency, profitability, and growth obstacles, many are discovering that adopting a modern technical report management approach can significantly boost both the top and bottom line. 

See the original article on AECbytes.

About The Author

Kelly L. Stratton is the founder and president of Quire, whose Technical Report Management® platform streamlines, automates, and accelerates the technical report and commercial proposal development to delivery process and offers analytics for decisions that improve the bottom line. After working for more than a decade as a civil and environmental engineer, using outdated tools to produce thousands of reports, she leveraged her first-hand experience to pioneer the TRM concept and develop a better way to manage creation of these mission-critical deliverables. Stratton can be reached at

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