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E/C/F Maturity and Growth

The purpose of owner E/C/F (Engineering, Construction, and Facilities) teams may seem obvious: build stuff so that business happens. You wouldn’t be wrong, in the same way that a computer’s purpose is to “do math fast.”

The strategic benefits of that team can be harder to identify. Continuum Advisory Group recently completed a study to uncover these benefits and interview people changing the relationship between E/C/F and the internal clients they serve. Above all, we want to show others how.

In our new blog series, we’ll be exploring the results of the study in greater depth. Each blog is focused on one of the eight identified themes from our interviews with 35 diverse corporations.

Our first blog in the series covers how companies view their E/C/F departments, both where they are and where they’d like to be.

Roadblocks and Stop Signs

A key component of our hypothesis was that E/C/F departments should be more than order takers. Indeed, they should have a seat in strategic business meetings, contributing their ground-floor know how to discussions about expansion, planning, and other long-term goals. Most companies felt the same way, with 77% of respondents including E/C/F leadership in “strategic planning at the highest corporate level.”

However, the degree to which E/C/F stakeholders contribute faces some obstacles. We asked respondents to rate their staffing levels on a scale of 1 to 5, and they hit an average of 3.71. This shows a lot of room to grow, and that many E/C/F departments – even those given proper consideration – aren’t exerting their full potential.

Baby Steps

The lack of staffing may be a key factor in another major theme: incremental vs. transformational change. Many E/C/F departments feel forced to take change in baby steps, a condition born of deeply ingrained corporate mindsets.

Those mindsets persist even after E/C/F departments are formally recognized. For instance, Jim Stephanou of Merck recounted changing his department name from “Global Engineering Services” to “Global Engineering Solutions.” He told us that the name was really a symbolic step, and that the real difficulty would come from changing everyone’s view of the department.

A key factor in doing that is high-performing, irreplaceable staff. Many of the strategic services E/C/F people provide can be outsourced. If E/C/F employees have to compete with experts, their managers have to prepare them for battle. Actions speak louder than words, and a department that proves its strategic worth will see hard-won respect.

If you want to read more about how to turn your E/C/F department into a strategic powerhouse, check out our full study here.

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