Unit Architects have selected Workspace, from specialist construction software suppliers, Union Square Software. The new system will incorporate email and document management, timesheets and resourcing and will also integrate their Sage financial system into one coherent practice management platform. Unit was formed by three partners in 2007 and currently employ 17 people. The Workspace implementation is critical to their ongoing strategy for business growth.
The three partners at Unit have used their experience from larger practices to create a disciplined culture with well structured and consistent document management procedures. The process for submitting timesheets within the business is not quite as effective. Individuals complete and submit weekly timesheets which are then manually inputted into another spreadsheet containing all timesheet information and they are then manually fed into the invoice system. Partner Ross Hutchinson comments, “This is a particularly prolonged and unnecessarily manual process which we recognised was a major area of inefficiency in the business. The same manual processes also exist for Resource Management. We needed a solution that would address these issues and could also incorporate documents, contacts and projects and remove the reliance on Outlook for storing emails. Whilst our document management systems are organised and well structured we still suffer from having to access project information in several different places. All the partners recognised that having one central access point would allow architects to work more efficiently by enabling them to focus on design rather than searching for information and completing administrative duties."
Workspace is a web based Enterprise Portal that has been developed specifically for the construction industry as a simpler way of filing, managing and accessing project documentation including emails. Ross comments on their decision to implement Workspace over other products available on the market, “Workspace was the only solution that had tried and tested solutions for all of the issues we were looking to address. Other products were strong in some areas but lacked effective solutions in others. Also we were keen to link financial information from Sage into project records and we were very impressed with the integration work that Union Square had done for BPTW.” Workspace will pull weekly job costing information from Sage and deliver it through the project record; this will be available to all project architects, which Ross believes will increase their commercial awareness.
Workspace will deliver a range of benefits to Unit including increased efficiencies from the centralisation of data, elimination of duplicated data including contact records and the treatment of email in a formal and structured way. This will remove the need for printing hard copies of emails. “The searching functionality within Workspace will be a major improvement in contrast to our current situation; being able to search for documents and emails across projects, regardless of author or date is something that is virtually impossible within Windows,” comments Ross. Unit are optimistic about the coming months and hope to grow to 30 people by the end of this year, “We see this as a good time to invest in technology, Workspace is critical for us to strengthen our position for the future. With our systems sorted we will be able to grow without worrying about losing control and will be better able to diversify and compete with larger practices.”