More time for clients
Mike Darwell: “The benefit [of Synergy] has been the ability to quickly and efficiently record time in one centralised location, which helps us to improve efficiency, which is a benefit to our clients. So that’s it, we’re always looking to improve the service that we can offer. If we can be efficient in the way that we manage the practice, that is of benefit to the clients because we’ve got more time to dedicate to them, rather than to ourselves.”
Role/s in the business
Mike Darwell is one of five directors of John Coward Architects, leading a team of 12 architects and technical staff. Mike is also an architect and his focus is on the heritage side of the business. He specialises in building conservation.
Why we need Synergy
“The driver for trying Synergy was to save time. But what we found was the previous system was flawed as well. So, it’s been great. The other reason we were looking at Synergy was email.
“We receive so many emails… It takes maybe 30 seconds to save an email as a document and when you’re getting 200-odd emails per day, there just isn’t the time to keep doing that. As directors, we end up spending time in evenings filing our project emails to the central Exchange server.
“Now with the Synergy Outlook plugin, I can just hit the file-to-Synergy button and Synergy knows which project to save the email to because I’ve put the project number into the subject heading – which we did anyway – and it’s filed as a document in Synergy straight away.
“That means two things – anybody in the office can access that email from any of their workstations – or from anywhere, with their phone if they want – and it means we’re saving a centralised email in one place, next to the project. Everything becomes project specific.”
Reduction in human error
“I went through every Excel timesheet after we’d made the switch to Synergy, that took a while. But I just wanted to do the exercise to see what time we actually hadn’t invoiced. And it was a lot. We were actually finding out that some people were invoiced for other people’s time. So, we had to go back to people and say, “Look, we’ve overcharged you”. That didn’t happen a lot, but there were a few of those. And that’s bad. We’ve removed the errors… [Synergy] has ironed out the human error."