“My kingdom for a consultant who understands my business!” It was Shakespeare’s King Something-or-other who said that, wasn’t it?! It should have been. It’s a classic tale. We all just want to work with people who understand us. People who know what will really help our businesses, and how. Insert hand-wringing and brow-mopping here.
Deidre Ruddick, one of our customer success consultants, is the hero of this story. She began her journey with Total Synergy as a Business Manager in an engineering business. She was dubbed the Synergy Queen as she developed a very comprehensive understanding of how a small-to-medium, built environment design business works. She knows your particular pain. She’s lived it. And she’s used Synergy software to ride in — like a knight in shining armor — and carry it towards happily ever after.
“I first heard of Synergy in 2008 when the engineering company I was working for decided that entering a project in eight different spreadsheets probably wasn’t the most efficient way to run the business,” Deidre says.
See?! Tale as old as time.
From user to queen — lighting the path with numbers
Deidre remembers how they beta tested Total Synergy in the Sydney business first, then rolled out nationally. After training with amazing consultants in the use of Synergy Practice Management (the desktop version), she began to lead the organizational change in the business that spanned multiple states. Sharing the magic, as it were.
“I loved being the Synergy Queen! I was making a real difference, gaining a deeper understanding of the story of a project from the numbers so the business could thrive.” Deidre has a wealth of business leadership education to draw from: Accounting degree, Graduate Diploma of Business Leadership, MBA and CPA which she has to integrate with her practical AEC experience. This helps her to work with diverse clients to identify their issues and unique needs.
“Later, when I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to train junior project managers, it became a logical thing to use Synergy to train them — because I was training in Synergy.”
While training tadpole project managers, Deidre would ask them about how things were tracking. Often her protégés would respond with affirmations about their projects’ relative health. Deidre would answer by inquiring specifically about any, less visible, element that was under distress. “I would say, ‘What about this?’ And they’d say, ‘how do you know that?’ … Well it’s all in the numbers!” says Deidre.
How a passion became a position
“I developed a real passion for the product as I worked with it for eight years in that company,” Deidre says. “When I left, I had this idea that, if you’re an accountant, you can count anybody’s money. So, I moved out of the construction industry … and found out that it really wasn’t true. I hated the industry I moved to. I just hated it.”
The unhappy move did have a proverbial pot at the end of it though. Total Synergy founder and CEO Scott Osborne contacted her. “He heard that I’d left,” Deidre says, “and he got in contact and said, ‘Well, I thought you’d be there for life, but if you’re ever looking, come talk to us.’
“After 15 months of being outside the AEC industry and really hating it, I reached out to Scott. That would have been November 2017, and he put me in touch with another client of Synergy where I held a contract role for 10 months, helping them roll out Synergy into other parts of their business. Then in March this year, the stars aligned, and I became a Total Synergy consultant.”
Asked why she thought Scott had pursued her to join the team, Deidre seems clear.
“I think he knew how I’d been using the program and the results that we were getting from it,” she says.
“He thought it would be a good fit. And I have to say, I love my job here; I get to play with Synergy all day. In fact, when I shared my new role on LinkedIn somebody who’d worked with me for a number of years at the first engineering company came back with, ‘well, it’s about time — I always thought you owned shares in Total Synergy’.
“Another person I’d met through Synergy, another client said, ‘Isn’t it wonderful when a passion becomes a position?’”
At work with The Queen
Deidre’s mission with Synergy is to help customers improve by expanding the way they use the software in their business. At the moment, she’s predominantly working with current Synergy Practice Management (desktop) users to bring them on the migration process into Synergy cloud. Synergy cloud business nirvana, through the rabbit hole.
“I think what I bring is a level of empathy about the issues our customers face day-to-day. I’m able to say, ‘yeah, look, I experienced that. This is how I handled it’. I’m able not only to train but to consult.
“That’s the opportunity of the job — work with our clients and help them build their businesses. Not just move from one platform to another, but to actually understand what issues they have, and work with them to address those.
“It’s been great working with the customer success team because it’s a growing team. You’ve got the experience, but you’ve got young people coming here and David [Marko, group customer success manager] is doing a great job. Bringing us all together in his gentle, kind-of understated way. But there’s a real power under that, he knows where we’re heading!”
Having come from the fledgling stages of Synergy’s software gives Deidre a unique understanding of the overarching shape and direction of Synergy as a whole. If she’s excited about our direction, that’s an educated excitement you’re looking at — and that makes us pretty darn proud.
The trials, tribulations, and opportunities of migration
We asked Deidre what, in her queenly wisdom, the biggest challenges are for people moving from Synergy Practice Management desktop software to Synergy cloud. As is her gift, Deidre was able to answer that question as a customer and as a consultant at the same time. Like a veritable Goldilocks, finding the porridge in the middle.
“I think the biggest challenge is people are set in their ways,” she says.
“They want to do things the way they’ve always done them. This means there’ll be certain things they’re looking for that may not be in the new product yet — or may never be in the new product.
“What Total Synergy has done is develop a way to get the results needed. So, instead of being hung up on a particular feature, the challenge is to say, ‘okay, why do I want this?’, and to actually get back to why they’re doing what they’re doing and what business outcome they’re trying to get,” Deidre says.
“In a lot of cases, there’s a different, better way to do it in the cloud product. The opportunity is that, rather than being just an upgrade, it’s a new system. You get the opportunity to really rethink how you do business and bring people on the journey with you. And that’s exciting!”
We think so too, Deidre. An opportunity to rewrite the story of your built environment design business, to have it end in the land of prosperity and success. Or the pastures of scalability. Up the beanstalk of profit, or in the secret garden of growth. So that you can be Queen (or King, or Emperor/Empress) of the kingdom before you.
… The end.