"Since we started using Synergy, we’ve saved at least two whole days of admin per week counted across all technical staff."

Mike Darwell | Director, John Coward Architects

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Mike Darwell — John Coward Architects

More time for clients

“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.

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.”

Ability to work remotely

“I use [Synergy] on my phone. I do timesheets on my phone. It’s good. And the iPad as well.

“I’ve been working remotely from the office for the last two days. I could just get to what I needed to via Synergy. Quickly.”

More frequent invoicing

“Before [Synergy], if we had a few hours on a project, we probably would have left it for another invoice run. Whereas now, it’s so easy to do it. We can keep invoicing going. It’s so quick.”

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.”

Core Synergy features used by Mike

Time saved as a result

“Since we started using Synergy, we’ve probably saved at least two whole days of admin per week counted across all technical staff.

“The person at reception who was transferring all of our timesheets to the jobs would typically spend the whole of Monday doing just that. We’ve freed up their entire Monday.

“[In regards to the Outlook add-in feature], email filing alone has the potential to save me four to five hours per week. And that’s just me.

“[In regards to invoicing], we do an invoice run on a Friday, typically. That would have taken the company secretary the best part of the day to send, on average, 15 invoices. She sent 26 in three hours last week.”

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