Timesheet system helps leading media agency to bill with confidence
By consolidating revenue and charge out rates, landscape architects find a way to reduce complexity and get a clear view on jobs as they happen
London-based Scape Design Associates are a leading landscape architecture, urban design and resort planning agency with clients all around the world.
Working on complex projects that are often subject to tight timescales, a successful business like this faces the constant threat of profits being eroded by over-servicing. The only way to prevent that is to ensure you have a clear view of the hours being worked, not just by juniors but across the board.
Until a few years ago, this wasn’t something the agency could take for granted.
For a number of years, Scape Design Associates had been using Project Minder.
It was a competent enough system, according to Hanah Draper, Operations and Finance Manager at the agency, but it was way too complex.
“We didn’t need all the functions Project Minder came with,” she says.
“We just wanted a user-friendly system that would give us clear and concise reports and an easy way of recording time.”
The answer to that lay in Tempora.
Hanah Draper, Scape Design Associates
“With Tempora,” she says, “there’s nothing clouding visibility. We can see clearly how jobs are progressing, on a phase level as well as by client or project.
This helps to prevent over-spend.
“Our cost and charge out rates are all embedded into the system, Ms Draper explains, so we can see very quickly how much each job is costing us.
“If costs appear to be escalating too fast, it’s often because there are too many ‘seniors’ on it. All we have to do is glance at the system to confirm that. Then we can take the appropriate action to ensure resources are being used more efficiently.”
It’s the same story with marketing projects, where it’s easy to let costs run away. With a clear view of how much time is being spent, the agency can put the breaks on before they start eating into profits.
It’s not all reactionary of course. Every month, Scape Design Associates hold a monthly WIP meeting where they decide how much of each project to take over into income. They then enter that amount into Tempora and use it as a profit margin benchmark.
Proposals have become easier to generate too.
“If we’re costing up a new job,” says Ms Draper, “it’s useful to be able to look back at past work from a similar location and know how long it took us. It allows us to create much more accurate estimates.”
For Scape Design Associates, there are two clear benefits to using Tempora: 1) hassle-free time entry, via Tempora’s online timesheets, and 2) quick reporting.
Because the system is integrated, there’s no need for anyone in Finance to import data from multiple timesheets, or manually type in cost codes.
“Revenue versus charge out rates is consolidated for us,” says Ms Draper, “which means we can print off reports, or export the data we need without delay”.
At its heart, Tempora is a simple system, says the Operations and Finance Manager, which is exactly what the agency was looking for. But it provides a critical function.
“Without it,” she says, “we wouldn’t be able to recognise income or create accurate estimates or forecasts for accounts month by month.
“Tempora tells us how much money we can move into the business. In any busy operation like ours, that’s information you can’t do without.”