The challenge of tracking consultants' time, supplier costs and expenses across complex projects and multiple offices, multiple clients has long been the bugbear of many professional services firms.
But now a Melbourne–based software firm has come to the rescue, with a single, fully integrated system called everyminute, which promises to revolutionise the way professional-service firms manage their businesses.
The everyminute system, built on the Microsoft Dynamics NAV financial software package, is the creation of Melbourne developer Fenwick Software.
The system combines a powerful financial package with the capability for business services consultants to track projects by the minute.
An early adopter of the new system is Thinc Projects, an international management consultancy firm based in Melbourne.
Thinc's Financial Controller, Gary Egan says the new system will simplify administration, lifts operational efficiency, and improves reporting right across the business.
"It puts prompt, accurate timesheet reporting right at our fingertips, along with the ability to capture information on our individual projects and vital analytical data across the company."
Thinc evolved from the merger of two firms in early 2007. Prior to joining forces, the two companies had been operating in different areas of Australia, using completely different accounting systems.
Gary Egan says the merger created a national organization, dictating immediate need for a single system to track and bill the work of its 180 staff.
"Every minute has actually forced us to examine how we bill our clients on a project by project basis. As a result, we are better equipped to educate staff on the dangers of fee leakage, and thus maximise our revenue. Easy recoverability of job costs and disbursements also means everyone becomes accountable. And to prevent project blowouts, we can now respond quickly by implementing a variation claim to the original brief."
Because Thinc operates in a range of diverse markets – including retail, commercial, health, aged care, education and defence – the company needed the ability to assess the merits of particular sectors and projects from the perspective of time and the allocation of resources.
"The everyminute system will assist toward more effective decision making," Mr Egan explains. "It is also scalable, which allows for our future growth as we expand our presence in Australia, the UK, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
"With everyminute we can apply a common financial planning and reporting system over our various divisions. And because everyminute has the look and feel of Excel and Outlook, our non-accounting staff are comfortable suing it across the entire practice."
Fenwick's Managing Principal, Peter Fenwick, says his company has specifically tailored development of the everyminute package to the professional services industry.
The system incorporates four components:
- Project timesheets
- Projects sales, resources, contracts and HR modules
- Business Intelligence reporting on KPIs
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV Financials.
According to Peter Fenwick, the software is designed primarily to provide timely access to accurate information, which puts the focus on running a business profitably. This means a firm’s management can spend a lot less time micro-managing and more time maximising their business.
"Our own firm operates as consultancy, and the everyminute system emerged from our thinking back in 2002 about how to run a professional services firm in a consistently profitable manner. We now use it throughout our business, and it has generated a dramatic lift in profitability – somewhere around a factor of three times the previous level."
From Thinc's perspective, implementation of the system has run smoothly.
"The beauty of the system is its consistency. We can now run all our operations from the Melbourne head office, and have everyone reading off the same page. The reporting also gives us complete transparency between our clients and our project teams.
"And because it's server based, I can work remotely and still access key data. This means I could even travel without my laptop!"
A remarkable improvement.
"Fenwick Software's everyminute is a fresh approach to management in business consulting. It meets all our criteria for business performance and analysis."