Consulting engineering; WSP + others

Consulting Engineering Firms – What’s happening?

Recent aggressive acquisitions by Canadian-headquartered firms should lead to export opportunities!

With the completion of several major acquisitions over the last two years, Stantec and WSP Global along with the longer-established firm SNC, Canada has three sizable engineering and architectural firms that are of a size to compete on a global scale. But are they able to compete with other international firms?

An earlier Conference Board study – Best Practices of Canadian Engineering and Architectural Firms – found that Canadian firms were losing market share dropping from 10% of the global market in 2000 to 5.7% in 2010 albeit ranked fifth in global ranking. The ratio of R&D expenditures relative to revenues had declined over the same period.

The aggressive acquisitions made by WSP and Stantec positions these firms with greater international exposure than ever and one would hope that Canada’s export opportunities and ranking could improve. Size-wise they join the ranks of SNC.

CIO explores – see Op-ed – the latest strategic developments, financial performance and prospects for these three Canadian-headquartered companies and, for comparison, three international firms; Jacobs Engineering and AECOM which are headquartered in the U.S. and AMEC Forster Wheeler based in the U.K.

Canada’s international presence has taken a hit over the last decade and may be a contributing factor to the fall in ranking. U.S.-based firms dominate the North American market and through making acquisitions have a strong presence in most developing markets . The competition is fierce. It will take a concerted effort at federal, provincial levels as well as the management capabilities in these now larger firms to build on their size and increase export opportunities.

Measuring a consulting engineering firm’s culture for innovation – the key to client satisfaction and long-term retention

The genesis of this web site was the research undertaken by the world’s oldest and much respected international management and technology firm, Arthur D Little, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That firm went bankrupt in the 1990s. Their research delved into the management practices and policies which contribute to innovation – or not.

Of the six firms reviewed, a few are explicit about the importance of innovation but others make little or no special note of this key characteristic of an engineer’s job. Perhaps innovation is so common place that it is not worth noting. We think it is worth noting and being explicit about the importance of innovation.

Innovation underpins the success of many organizations including consulting engineering organizations but does not receive as much attention or credit as it should.

Hatch as an example of this research applied to a Canadian consulting engineering firm is set out in the links. Hatch has a legacy of innovation. Hatch compared to BofBHatch’s Delta