When Gabriel Stracci and Matthew Mammone started their Adelaide structural and civil consulting engineering firm, gama consulting, in 2016, the team consisted of just three people. Today, the business employs more than 20 staff and handles well over 500 residential, industrial and commercial projects each year.
Turnover has increased by around 15 to 20 per cent each year, but that impressive growth brings challenges of its own. “When we first started our company six years ago, we were relying mainly on Excel to track our projects and do our ordering – and you can do that when you’ve got a very small workforce,” Stracci recalls. “But obviously as you grow the number of people that you employ, you need to be able to track what they’re doing a bit more efficiently.”
After trying other project management options, the team settled on BQE CORE in 2020. Built by engineers for engineers, BQE CORE combines time and expense tracking, project management and resource planning functionality with accounting, human resources and even CRM. Real-time business intelligence and performance data help manage budgeting, profitability and resources, as well as identify new opportunities. Financial reporting, overhead tracking and time tracking give users the ability to send invoices faster, which subsequently improves cash flow.
Improving productivity and profitability
At any given point in time, one of gama consulting’s project managers is juggling between 20 and 30 different projects, with project time allocations ranging anywhere from one to 100 hours. And, during the early phases of the pandemic, most project managers were doing this from home. Because CORE is cloud-based, the team at gama consulting was able to enter their timesheets and do whatever they needed to do from home or a fully-functional mobile phone app, which was a major advantage over traditional spreadsheets.
Additionally, CORE’s project management functionality gave gama consulting the ability to manage employees’ time effectively, which increased operational efficiency. What’s more, communication with clients drastically improved. “We’re now able to assign our engineers or drafters specific tasks on certain days, which gives us greater visibility,” Stracci states. “We can advise our clients of exactly when a job is intended to be worked on, which gives them a bit more clarity as to when they can expect their projects to be completed.”
CORE offers a range of time tracking options, from traditional timesheets to pause-and-play timers. This has been a game changer for improving staff motivation and productivity, and also provides Stracci with invaluable early warnings if a project seems set to overrun budget.
Most of gama’s projects are fixed fees. CORE’s time tracking tool window helps ensure team members stick within those quoted times. And on occasions when tracking shows managers may have slightly under-quoted, they can then go back to the client early enough to renegotiate.
CORE’s dashboard provides Stracci with a real-time overview of project progress across the business, which saves him at least five or six hours a week that used to be spent in meetings or arranging meetings. “I don’t attend nearly as many project management meetings because I can see everything on screen,” he said. “That time now goes into productive work: I’m spending it on billable time.”
To grow with the business
CORE’s real-time performance and profitability data not only helps with the operational side of gama consulting’s business but also assists with business development and future planning. By having easy access to this type of data, Stracci and Mammone can determine which clients – and what types of work – are most profitable, which is critical information for decision making.
Stracci originally chose CORE for its privacy settings, which give admins the ability to control visibility for different areas of the software for different individuals within the business. This feature enables CORE users to show project managers what their invoicing is, without giving them visibility of the overall company structure.
But it’s the continuous improvements to the platform that Stracci values most. “We can see how CORE changes as we’re growing, and they’re making improvements all the time,” he explains. “They have a help team and ideas centre where you can suggest things like: ‘Listen, for our company we need to do this and this.’ And, for the suggestions that are critical, they do look into it.”
While gama consulting currently focuses on the project management and business intelligence elements of CORE, the team is looking to expand their use of the software. “Now that we’ve had it for a year, we can see what its actual potential is and how much more we still have to learn about all its features,” says Stracci. “There are quite a few features that we’re not even tapping into: besides the accountancy package, they’ve got a HR package too, which we might be able to use as we grow.”
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