Alexander Symonds Surveying Consultants was not born yesterday. Not even close. Founded in 1932 in Adelaide, Australia, Alexander Symonds has spent decades growing, expanding, and perfecting. Maturing, if you like, like a fine wine from the nearby Barossa Valley. An excellent, cultivated drop that’s now robust enough to employ around 120 staff, no less. With notes of a headcount over 120 and hints of a project portfolio in the thousands, we’ll cheers to that!
We spoke with Abbey Scott, who is one of the project managers for the company’s minor land divisions, and she said, “We do major infrastructure, we do mines, dams, movie sets, we do fencing, and land divisions. Anything you can measure; we can survey it.” Cheers again!
Abbey also managed Alexander Symonds implementation of Synergy. And it’s that sort of right-thinking, good taste that gave another reason to raise our glass. That, and get her to divulge the details of their journey with Synergy software.
Abbey explained that when she first started with the surveying firm (an impressive 15 years ago) that they created a sort of business management software system for themselves.
“We had created the old system in-house, so it was more about inputting projects and then entering timesheets and costs and consumables. There was no real project management in that system and hardly any reporting — we just outgrew it … by a lot.”
“there were about 50 employees — now we have a lot more surveyors and a lot more field assistants. We have a bigger planning team dealing with our land divisions and offer a more vertically intergrated service. The growth has been to support our expanded service offerings, which include not just our traditional surveying, but expansion into GIS, Aerial Drone Mapping, Underground Service Location and 3D Laser Scanning. We’ve also grown our footprint into regional areas covering South Australia and Western Victoria,
Greater volume of projects, more people, dispersed over a great distance, with multiple offices. Again, impressive. But also challenging in terms of business and project management. Especially when you consider that for most staff members, work happens in the field, not in the office. If we’re talking about Alexander Symonds people, in the words of Haley Joel Osment, “they’re everywhere!”
For Alexander Symonds the benefits to bubble up from migrating to Synergy cloud software were numerous. Staff access from anywhere for their admin and timesheets, integrations with the software they use and developer APIs for any software they might come to need, and an industry-specific understanding of their particular software needs, to name a few.
“We had so many systems that just didn’t talk to each other — it was a nightmare. With Synergy we know that if we do find a piece of software that we might need — for, let’s say, safety checklists — that we can actually engage Synergy to create a connector. Just knowing we can do that is really beneficial for us too.”
“When we were researching all the new project management systems, Synergy was by far the most suitable for us, we knew that,” said Abbey, “I did look at two other, generic systems pretty in-depth — I realized neither of them are being worked on, they’re not being updated, they’re not being developed — I figured, if we were going to go with something like that, we’d be in the same situation in a couple of years. We’d just outgrow them.”
The agility of Synergy software and the dedication of the company to the need of built environment practices was crystalised for Alexander Symonds when Total Synergy consulted with them, and other surveyors, to build the Fieldbook app. The app was built to meet the specific needs of field-working staff and its development was a continual consultation process with the industry.
Asked about the benefits that Alexander Symonds were seeing the Fieldbook app, Abbey was very clear. “The fact that it actually syncs with Synergy and that you can access all your projects, without having to manually enter project numbers and search for things. The ability to put in time for the field party leader and the field assistant via the app. Recording consumables while on site — things like car mileage, expenses, pegs and pick kits. And they’re all really easy to do in Fieldbook … They even put the link for Google Maps in, which is great for getting to site.”
“The Fieldbook interface is really simple too, which is exactly what we wanted. I think people love making things complicated and adding all these features and sometimes that’s great, but we wanted something simple, so everyone could use it really easily and really quickly.”
For Alexander Symonds, Synergy software provided the industry-specific, agile, integrated solution they needed to run their business now, and into the future, with confidence. If the true degree to which Synergy answers the specific needs of AEC businesses wasn’t clear enough, Abbey explained that their attendance at a Synergy Roadshow made it undeniable.
“When we walked into that room at the roadshow, there were about 40 companies represented and many were existing clients of ours — all the architects, all the engineers, they were all using Synergy. It was a room full of our people!”