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Engineering & Construction

Engineering and construction (E&C) companies are at a crossroads despite a positive market outlook. We help organizations navigate an increasingly dynamic environment driven by globalization, greater project complexity, and a rising call from customers for faster and more cost-efficient performance.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates $49 trillion in infrastructure investments will be required by 2030 just to keep up with the global economy. For E&C companies, that translates into a steady 4 percent annual growth rate. However, the sector is struggling with stagnating productivity and low profit margins in many markets.

We are working with our E&C clients to institute effective changes that will help overcome both internal and external challenges to their productivity and profitability.

What we do

Since 2008, McKinsey has worked with more than 100 of the world’s largest E&C companies. In addition to our work with the industry, we have global experience working on all major asset classes—from residential single-family homes to national power plants, and from regional roads to transcontinental railways.

Our teams bring a unique combination of strategic advisors, researchers, senior industry professionals with decades of hands-on experience, and functional experts with backgrounds in areas such as lean organization and risk.

We often work with companies on end-to-end transformations. Combining our experience in operational transformation and restructuring, our deep understanding of the E&C industry, and insights and inspirations from other industries, we help companies make significant improvements to their operations. 

We support E&C companies with targeted initiatives, including:

  • Due diligence. Provide in-depth due diligence of potential targets to drive successful inorganic expansion strategies.
  • Strategy development and execution. Advise on portfolio management, growth strategy, commercial excellence, mergers and acquisitions, emerging-market entry, and carbon-abatement opportunities along the construction value chain.
  • Procurement. Drive value through a rigorous process that includes capability building, supplier development, pricing, and demand management.
  • Cost and productivity improvement. Help deliver complex projects on time and within budget using value-driven, end-to-end project management, design-to-value, and lean construction principles.
  • Organization, governance, and talent management. Build governance models that balance cohesion with entrepreneurship and manage portfolio risk. We also support project-manager training, performance management, and the development of incentive systems to drive continuous improvement.
  • Restructuring. Improve profitability margins across entire portfolios or in specific projects through a rigorous process of assessment, validation, and implementation of our proprietary tracking methodology.

Examples of our work

  • Conducted due diligence for a US firm, helping it confirm that it should proceed with a major acquisition.
  • Helped a global European E&C client achieve 15 percent savings through productivity and purchasing optimization in residential construction.
  • Conducted an overall capital-expenditure diagnostic that helped the largest real-estate company in India achieve a 25 percent cost savings in large-scale office projects.
  • Worked with a client to reduce costs and improve the timeline of a $1 billion flagship project in the Middle East.
  • Helped a North American firm double its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization in a 2-year period.
  • Advised a Chinese E&C company on the development of a strategy that resulted in domestic and international growth.

Featured experts

Maria João Ribeirinho

Partner, Lisbon, Madrid

Adrian Booth

Partner, San Francisco


Report - McKinsey Global Institute

Reinventing construction through a productivity revolution

– To transform the sector, action is needed in seven areas or through broader adoption of mass-production approaches.

Beating the low-productivity trap: How to transform construction operations

– Engineering and construction companies suffer from low margins and relatively low productivity. They can do better.

Imagining construction’s digital future

– The industry needs to change; here’s how to manage it.

Featured capabilities

We have developed and tested a broad set of proprietary tools to better serve our clients, including:

Organizational Health Index

The Organizational Health Index maps the DNA of your organization, providing insights into how your team is operating and recommended improvements based on proven recipes for success.

E&C operational diagnostic kit

A proprietary tool that has been deployed across a number of client situations in the United States, Latin America, and Europe to help inform focus areas for an operational transformation. It evaluates key dimensions such as design and engineering, mobilization, procurement, integrated planning management, productivity, performance management, risk management, contract management, organization competencies, safety, and budgeting.

E&C benchmarking: Pinpointing the drivers of performance in engineering and construction

Comparing the profit margins of leading engineering and construction companies reveals wide disparities in performance. The causes, and how to fix them, are uncovered by a three-stage analysis designed to help companies create and capture value.

Infrastructure Projects Analytics Tool

The tool tracks up to 60 characteristics of more than 100,000 projects worldwide by geography and sector and gives visibility to early-stage projects, prefinancing, and tendering.