"Before we installed the eTrack Practice Management application," says Linda Simons, Principal at LSA Architects, a very busy mid-sized architecture practice in Melbourne, Victoria, "I would spend fully half of my time managing the business."
She continues: "Staff allocations, budgets, work in progress, invoice status and all of the other everyday tasks that are the lifeblood of a mid-sized business.
"Now, with eTrack and their graphical interfaces and 'at a glance' status views, I can take care of the housekeeping in less than a day. This frees up my week so I can spend more time on building the business and engaging with clients."
Simons especially likes the way eTrack combines all of the information about the client, project, staff allocations, budgets and profitability into a single interface.
"I can see immediately how things are progressing," explains Simons.
"We enter the information only once, typically as the event occurs or when a milestone is reached, so we eliminate duplication in data entry which, in turn, reduces keystroke errors. And the staff allocation feature allows me to schedule our team members on specific jobs, track their hours and measure progress against the projections.
"This helps me maintain tighter control over budgets and staff productivity."
Key reasons LSA Selected eTrack
- Single graphical view of key metrics 'at a glance'
- Concurrent licenses enables all staff to be simultaneously logged in
- Compared more favourably to previously-installed Total Synergy
- Superb pre- and post-sales support
Key benefits for LSA
- Reduced time spent on 'paperwork' tasks for Linda Simons by up to 75 per cent
- Facilitates project scheduling, resource management and invoicing
- Minimises data entry tasks and reduces keystroke errors
- Increases staff productivity and overall profitability
Prior to installing eTrack, LSA had been looking for an integrated practice management system.
"Our principal software is Project Director," explains Simons, "but we had outgrown our Microsoft Project and MYOB solutions as they were both stand-alone packages with no two-way communications. We had even installed Total Synergy for an extended trial but we weren't happy with the package.
"The full-featured version was complicated so we would be paying for features we couldn't use, and the basic version was too, well, basic. Plus the licensing restrictions meant that we couldn't have everyone on the system simultaneously a big advantage of eTrack. We ultimately removed Total Synergy when we implemented eTrack.
"We actually found out about eTrack by searching the web.
"We liked their web site it was full of information geared directly towards architectural firms like ours and they had some impressive customer testimonials, again from people just like us.
"We made some phone inquiries they have an office in Melbourne and were very impressed. But what really sold us was the professionalism from all of the eTrack team, from Michael Walmsley, the local eTrack representative to John Warner, Managing Director for eTrack.
"They answered all of our questions promptly and created a wonderful on-line demonstration for us that really showed off the benefits of their solution. It was a very easy decision for us to replace Total Synergy with eTrack."
eTrack provided full implementation and training services.
"We initially hosted their database so all training could be 'on-the-job' and to enable a fast response to configuration requests," says John Warner, Managing Director of eTrack Products Pty Ltd.
"When ready we provided a simple install to allow them to restore the Microsoft SQL Database to a local server and helped Linda migrate existing data. We then helped her prepare budget, schedule and invoice templates and create custom reports with the built-in report writer.
"eTrack has very little administration overhead since timesheets automatically update schedules, schedules update resource utilisations, and budgets update WIP (work in progress) and profit indicators."
"eTrack's graphical display of schedules and resource allocation makes keeping track of budget and schedule overruns very easy," notes Simons.
"In fact, when I started to review past projects I noticed that we had not yet invoiced for work completed on some projects.
"eTrack's graphics are fantastic for tracking all aspects of a project. We all use eTrack at LSA with varying access security so we can enter and track progress, monitor budgets, schedules and utilisations, view documents and transmittals and much more, all from a common intuitive user interface."
Fast implementation and immediate benefits from using eTrack are the result of eleven years of development and feedback from hundreds of architectural firms.
"The result is a system that encourages 'best practices' and includes project templates, QA checklists, invoice templates and workflow," explains Warner.
"Small companies have the benefit of an 'out of the box' solution but also the power to reconfigure almost everything ensuring eTrack is 'future proof'.
"Based on valuable feedback, we are constantly enhancing eTrack: for example we have recently added email, full remote access, hosting and Apple Macintosh compatibility."
But the most beneficial feature of eTrack has been the reduction of paperwork for Simons.
"It would take me literally two-and-a-half days a week just keeping track of staff, billings, new projects, timesheets and profitability by job," concludes Simons.
"Now I can manage those tasks in less than a day. Plus staff can monitor the projects they are working on, regularly record time and disbursements and update quality checklists themselves.
"Being able to track time allocation per stage of the project has completely changed the way we do things in the office. As a result, we have more control over our time and quality and can be much more productive."