DRAC Consulting is a leading client-focused building service and sustainability consultant based in Cardiff, Wales. They are an independent organisation, privately owned by two partners with outstanding reputations across all industry sectors with over 30 years of experience. With an experienced team of engineers and consultants, DRAC offers mechanical and electrical building services design, as well as NEC Supervisor Services, Independent Commissioner/Certifier services and Clerk of Works Services across all aspects of new build, extensions, refurbishments, and site infrastructure developments throughout Wales and England.
Number of staff
Location Cardiff, Wales
Synergy product Synergy cloud — Business
Customer since 2021
Favourite Synergy features
Integration with Xero
“Synergy helps me know that our projects are being managed properly and gives me a greater understanding of their true value. I think it’s the best tool we’ve got.”
DRAC Consulting ushers in a new era of Project Accounting for their business with Synergy to drive future growth.
Manual collecting of timesheet data wasting specialists’ time on administration.
Disparate financial systems and processes that make project accounting clunky and time consuming.
Difficulty providing clients with detailed timesheet information on invoices.
Streamlined timesheets that are fully integrated with projects, making time and expense tracking simpler and more efficient.
Automated processes and integrated data offer significant time savings, allowing the team to achieve results faster and giving them more time for design work.
Real-time dashboards that present project and financial insights at a glance, giving greater control over projects and the ability to make fast, data-led decisions.
A cloud software platform built specifically for AEC professionals, allowing the team to structure projects following RIBA guidelines and offering greater confidence in the way projects are managed.
After experiencing a massive rise in demand for their services in the wake of the pandemic, DRAC Consulting, a leading building services and sustainability consultant in Wales, UK, needed a better way to manage their projects and gain a greater understanding of the true value of their work. With Synergy in hand, they now have a more streamlined and automated Project Accounting system giving them the automated processes and insights they need in order to drive their future success.
The reception area of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at Treforest, a 133,000 sq ft regional hub which DRAC Consulting was the Independent Certifier and Independent Commissioners for, for Phase 1 of the project.
Carl Bassett, one of the directors of DRAC Consulting, has extensive experience as an engineer in contracting and consulting across the building industry in both the private and public sectors. Together with Russell Williams and the rest of the DRAC team, they deliver an array of Mechanical and Building Services design and consulting to their clients. From MEP to Sustainability, each project requires many hours and often many years of work; and that comes with a specific set of challenges that many people in the AEC industry know all too well.
Understanding the true costs of a building project is a major one, and it isn’t very easy to tackle. With so many moving parts to account for, it can be easy to let things slip through the cracks. Eventually, this will cause issues with cash flow, profitability, and ultimately the success of the project or even your business. So, it’s easy to see why project accounting is a critical area for attention.
Carl is no stranger to tackling projects that require particular attention to financial details. But when he suddenly experienced an increased demand for their services off the back of the pandemic coupled with the Welsh Government’s push to boost the economy by building 20,000 new homes, he knew change was needed.
The increased volume of work together with the recently legislated scrutiny around environmental sustainability meant that projects needed to be managed with greater efficiency and accuracy. More work equaled more costs, more timesheets, more staff expenses, and more invoicing. It also came with greater risk.
“We were doing everything manually through excel, which was costly and time consuming and we were experiencing errors”, says Carl. “After having a demo and looking at the cost to manually do the work versus the cost of having Synergy – it was a no brainer. Competitor offerings were too expensive and manual.”
Devizes Health Centre. DRAC has been appointed supervisor for this project being built with Kier Construction and costing £10.90m.
A better way to track time and expenses
Timesheets are one of those necessary elements of a project that many firms find frustrating, or at least tedious. That’s where Carl started his search.
“We knew we needed something to manage our timesheets”, says Carl. “Previously we were manually collecting basic time data with project hours and hourly rate on summary sheets to review. Now with Synergy’s templates, we can assign time to specific stages of a project.
Synergy is built specifically for the AEC industry. Your projects are set up in stages, which means you can easily follow the RIBA stages of building for your work. Staff timesheets can be assigned to an appropriate stage of work and even a specific task, rather than the overall job.
For Carl, this means having a level of tracking, insight, and management that was previously unattainable.
“We can now keep track of the project in greater detail, see its progress based on the fee structure we’ve identified, and invoice as appropriate”, says Carl.
Synergy allows you to set up a range of hourly rates, so you can easily track and calculate your chargeable hours according to your staff. This is a massive time saver compared to manual methods and offers flexibility across your different projects. It’s as simple as telling your staff to pick the correct rate when they’re assigning their timesheets.
Carl and the DRAC team are finding this feature very useful.
“We’ve got a new project with a local Council which is time charged. Synergy comes into its own with that kind of project”, says Carl. “Straight away we can pick the correct rate and charge it to the project. It makes doing timesheets very easy – it’s superb”.
It’s also easy to track and assign staff expenses, giving Carl a new and even deeper understanding of the true cost and true value of the work.
“Tracking expenses – we didn’t do it before. Expenses like mileage we can now assign not only to the project but to the specific stage of the project”, says Carl. “Synergy helps me know that a project is being managed properly, and with this information, in just a couple of clicks I can see if a project is profitable or not”.
HMRC, (the UK’s tax, payments, and customs authority) Regional Hub in Cardiff. DRAC Consulting was the Independent Certifier and Independent Commissioners for this £64m project.
Invoicing made easy
When it comes to tracking progress and invoicing work, Synergy makes life fast and easy.
“We have a number of time charged projects where the client wants to see timesheets”, says Carl. “I can easily create an invoice for staff time with the correct hourly rate for the project and the invoice is prepared in seconds.”
“I like the fact that when I go to create an invoice, Synergy pulls from all the existing project data, so I can look at it and easily see the project spend, and what should be invoiced against the project schedule”.
Carl and the team can now easily create an invoice inside Synergy and include a timesheet report, giving them and their client all the details they need. It’s a far cry from manually filling in spreadsheets, checking them, editing them, then bringing them into an invoice. That’s because Synergy, designed with engineers, architects, consultants, and other building design professionals in mind, is all about giving you back more time.
“Even just logging in, straight away I can see my aged WIP (Work In Progress), and my aged debtors. I couldn’t see that so easy before”, says Carl. “Now I can see it and understand what’s happening and find out more where I need to. It’s made it all so easy”.
The right tools to get the job done
Keeping on top of your project accounting is critical to a profitable and successful project and business. But it goes beyond simply tracking your expenses and invoicing. Synergy integrates your data seamlessly with accounting packages like Xero, so you can have a complete accounting workflow that suits your needs.
“Synergy’s simple interface with accounting is superb”, says Carl. “It saves us a lot of time, knowing that our accounting package and Synergy have got the same figures”.
Carl has even been giving other directors in the industry some tips on how to better manage their financial work. When people ask him what DRAC uses, he proudly lets them know it’s Synergy, and tells them how it’s transformed their way of working.
“Across the board, it’s been great. For us, I think it’s the best tool we’ve got”, says Carl.