Webb Yates Engineers is an award winning structural and civil design practice with offices in Central London and Birmingham.
HOW HAVE CLIENTS RECENTLY CHANGED?
“There are ways…
Client budgets are under pressure, perhaps permanently now. They have to prove clear value to their own organisation.
• Technical innovation is often needed to deliver new solutions that are more affordable than conventional ones. For example we designed a bridge for the London Borough of Hackney. The existing bridge had deteriorated and had to be closed to vehicles.
They intended to build a new bridge costing £3.5million. Instead we designed an elegant, lightweight solution costing £1.4 million.
• It’s not just public sector clients that demand this sort of thinking, it’s clients in every sector.
• The need for leanness also extends to our own information / project management processes.
In structural design there is a constant stream of new materials becoming available – you need to be the master of them. Nothing stands still.
• You also need to constantly strive for greater efficiencies of materials, rather than automatically accept the standard ways.
• New technologies enable new aesthetics and more challenging architecture to be designed.
• Tighter budgets and timescales require engineers to work on multiple projects simultaneously, often with overlapping programmes. This puts pressure on work processes and supporting technology.
Clients increasingly want their service providers to see the bigger picture and come up with solutions to wider issues.
• So design engineers need to know their audience’s concerns, not simply present standard engineering responses.
Shorter programmes and quicker response times require efficient communication and the use of the right technology.
• Service providers therefore need to constantly look for greater efficiencies in everything they do.
INTRODUCING WEBB YATES ENGINEERS LTD
“We’ve grown from 7 to 30 people in just under 5 years. Our clients are typically building contractors, property developers and private clients.
“We manage a large number of projects at any one time. We have approximately 300 jobs and quotes on the system, with about 200 live.
“And they represent a very wide variety of project sizes. Length of projects can range from a single day to two or three years.”
HOW DO WE DIFFER FROM OUR COMPETITORS?
“We are more creative and innovative in our engineering designs than others, as a point of difference.
• “We make a point of looking to improve the overall project for the client, rather than blindly following the mechanics of the brief. We come up with solutions that meet what the client is trying to achieve yet might be far more economical for them, or more efficient, simple or beautiful. Or all of those.
• “We do Design-Led Engineering here. We employ a collaborative approach and encourage staff to challenge the design of other designers in the interests of the project. Our design teams have become less compartmentalised. The Webb Yates philosophy is that high quality projects can be delivered through efficient collaborative working.
• “We deliver what is called Clever Engineering. Good solutions have a certain elegance, as in nature.
• “We are continually investing in technologies to improve the efficiency of the business and the designs produced.”
OUR PREVIOUS SYSTEM
“We had a previous system which had been designed for architects and engineers but it had severe limitations.
• The reporting was poor
• Some data had to be entered twice
• Some aspects still had to be done on spreadsheets
• Invoicing was handled separately
• It didn’t link to our Sage accounting
• The supplier hadn’t updated it for a number of years
• At month end it took an excessive amount of time to manage
• It wasn’t customisable
“We accepted its weaknesses in the early days when we were small in size. But there are 30 of us now, so we knew we needed something much better. We looked at several systems. Our requirements included:
• It needed to be far more comprehensive, and linked together.
• In our business, our resources are time. So the new system had to work that way from the ground up.
• We wanted an on-premises solution. We didn’t want our data stored on some remote servers. Data security is very important to us and our clients. We have major airports as clients, for example, so security, professionalism and trust are paramount.
“We chose Synergist because it met the requirements.
• Its entire processes and functioning is clearly designed for our sort of business. It works the way we work.
• Small and large projects have different needs, and Synergist allows for that.
• Synergist has the scalability we need for growth.
• The alternative for us would have been to choose a standard software package. But to conform to that we would have had to change our processes to fit someone else’s fixed way of doing things. That’s exactly what we didn’t want.
IMPACT AFTER IMPLEMENTATION
• Which timesheets are missing. It means you know where the gaps are right away.
• Last week’s timesheets and last month’s time and expenses logged to projects.
• Invoice analysis. Running that report just before the month end is really useful.
“It would have been very hard to extract all this sort of data in our previous system.
10. “Having the system automatically email reports to us is another big win.”
Things are very positive for us at the moment. We are growing quite rapidly. Synergist’s scalability is a reassurance.
“The data we are now capturing is allowing us to be more strategic in bidding for projects. This helps us keep a balance in our workload and forward plan to drive the business forward.
“We’d like to add that the help desk support from Synergist has been very good. When necessary you can give them access to your screen remotely so they can see the same data you’re working on and talk it through right away.
“On-site training, by Anna Root of Magnifeye / The Agency Works, was also good. She worked hard to understand our processes, which was appreciated.”
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