TCEP 149: The Business of Engineering — Scaling an Engineering Firm

In this episode of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I talk to Brian Saunders, founder and CEO of BigTime Software. Brian talks to us about the business of engineering, and more specifically, about scaling an engineering firm and provide some great on how you can grow your engineering firm.

Engineering Quotes:

scaling an engineering firm

scaling an engineering firm

Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Brian:

  • Can you tell us about how and why you started BigTime?
  • Can you talk about the evolution of engineering firms from infancy and how they scale?
  • You have something that you like to discuss called “growing the firm beyond the two pizzas team.” Can you tell us what this means?
  • Was going from a software engineer to the CEO of a company a goal of yours?
  • Can you share with us any insights that you may have picked up during your surveying about where we are heading during and after this pandemic?

Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About:

  • Growing an engineering firm is ultimately an art. Engineers develop a very lucrative specialty over the lifetime of the firm, and it can take many different paths.
  • The scaling of an engineering firm often starts when small teams start to fall behind on work. The next step of scaling is adding a financial or business team to try to systematize the firm’s operations.
  • The phrase “growing the firm beyond the two pizzas team” is an Amazon saying that means that you can feed all the people who invented these great things with two pizzas. This refers to the first stage of growth in a firm, going from a few people to a bigger group of people.
  • Bigger firms can identify what is a success, and they can identify what it takes to help other people build that success. Now it is just a question of how good they are at scaling up and training.
  • The product is the company, and what makes the company unique needs to be communicated.
  • If you want to start your engineering firm, you need to go all-in. To go all-in is not easy, but sometimes you need that extra pressure to make a success of it.
  • According to the surveys BigTime has conducted with engineering firms over three months, engineering is not necessarily imploding during this pandemic. Approximately 41% say they have little or no impact in 2020, and 23% said the impact would be significant.

More Details in This Episode…

About Brian Saunders

Brian Saunders BigTime CEOBrian Saunders, the founder and CEO of BigTime Software and a graduate of the University of Chicago, grew up inside technology. He’s lived through the boom (and bust) of the ’90s, the financial crisis of 2008, and the last decade’s explosive growth in the technology sector.

Brian is a member of the Forbes Technology Council and has been featured in that magazine’s online publication (as well as Inc, Fast Company, Built in Chicago, Smart Company, CIO Magazine and elsewhere).

BigTime is an online time and billing solution designed to serve professional service firms like accounting, engineering, government contracting, legal, and IT services. The integrated solution offers features like time and expense tracking, work-in-progress (WIP) management, task and workflow management, invoicing, billing, and more.


Big Time
Connect with Brian Saunders on LinkedIn
Civil Engineering Collective
Geotechnical Engineering Podcast
Geoffrey A. Moore Books

Books Mentioned in This Episode

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


Maser Logo Final 600 ResA big thank you to EMI’s sponsor, Maser Consulting, a privately-owned, multidiscipline engineering firm with 950 employees in 32 offices nationwide — and growing fast! Maser Consulting is delighted to announce that Colliers International has completed the previously announced acquisition of a controlling interest in Maser. This unique partnership allows Maser’s senior leadership to retain significant equity in the firm and continue driving operations while providing resources necessary to accelerate the growth of the business. Leveraging this partnership will result in exciting new career opportunities for employees, further diversification of Maser’s portfolio of work, and expansion of their footprint across the U.S. The company will be rebranded as “Colliers Engineering Services” in 2020.

PPI LogoThis episode is also brought to you by PPI-Kaplan, the leader in civil engineering FE, SE, and PE exam preparation. PPI-Kaplan is going to deliver a FREE WEBINAR that will provide strategies for PE Exam Preparation and also an update on how COVID-19 has affected the PE exam scheduling and upcoming exams. To register for this free webinar, visit

Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on scaling up an engineering firm.

  • If you enjoyed this post, please consider downloading our free list of 33 Productivity Routines of Top Engineering Executives. Click the button below to download.

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To your success,

Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success

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