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The Unconventional Guide to Work

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Getting clarity around every aspect of a project at event architecture company, Event Base [user story]

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User Stories is a regular column here on the WorkflowMax blog. Here, we get a company to walk us through their workflow process. Every company is different, and every firm has different methods and processes for managing their projects. Our hope is that by studying what others do, you can find techniques to improve your own workflow.

Today we talk to Simon, Founder and Managing Director at EventBase, a unique design and build firm based in Auckland who hire, design and build unique, architectural event spaces.

Tell us about EventBase. Who are you and what do you do?

Simon: EventBase specialize in the hire, design and build of event infrastructure - from the structures where events are held, to the design and build of interiors, projection environments, lighting, furniture, and speciality event hire equipment.

We’ve been operating since 2009, and we’re a company of ten full time staff here and upwards 20 contractors and casual staff in Auckland. They cover sales, account and project management, design, and construction of builds and rigging. We hold a number of exclusive arrangements with different products from around the world, from Europe to Australia as well as developing concepts and manufacturing solutions locally.

One of the larger projects we've ever been involved in from design and build was the concept of the Cloud on Queen's Wharf for the World Cup. We also worked a lot in Christchurch in the recovery stage there with structures in Hagley Park, and have worked on events in Auckland ranging from Heineken Baseline, Cricket World Cup, and various award shows. We’re at the premium end of the market and specialise in delivering the details on site when it matters.

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What are your main challenges when it comes to workflow?

Simon: Prior to starting Event Base, I had an agency for 10 years. In that agency we had a proprietary workflow management system designed specifically for us. We would have invested easily over $100,000 in that system.

When we started Event Base, I didn’t want to go through that process again. Our IT consultant, Ed Adams from Cloud 2 (who was with me on the agency experience) introduced us to WorkflowMax. Straight away I could see what it could do. We set up a subscription and were up and running within a couple of weeks.

For a company like Event Base, probably the biggest challenge is the capturing of costs, which is what enables you to accurately quote or estimate a job. Quite often we’ll be asked to ballpark a job, and then if that job gets developed, there’s multiple changes to the design that will add an amount to the cost.

In WorkflowMax we can quickly update estimates - and these changes are reflected through the whole job process. We’re always able to keep the most up-to-date figures in front of the client, which is a huge advantage for them and us

What other tools do you use in your business?

Simon: At the moment, we just use Xero with WorkflowMax.

We’ve looked at other things like TradeGecko for inventory management. It would be good to have some kind of scanning technology to be able to scan hire equipment in and out and track things that way, because we rely on the people here to keep track of it all. It can be easy to let something slip and then months later you realize “hey, that’s not where it should be! Who had it last?” But that’s still a way down the track. Currently WorkflowMax and Xero are all we need.

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Describe the life of a project at Event Base

Simon: We started using Lead Manager about a year ago. When we talk to a lead, we're using WorkflowMax to track those conversations. We’re not being as disciplined about tracking this as we should be, but it does give us a place to hold and refer to that information.

Then, we use WorkflowMax to estimate work, close an estimate, and turn it into a job. That job and all the relevant information then filters  through to the guys in design and on the factory floor, who aside from using it to track time and costs for each job can see the key dates, gear required for the job, timings on any production, highlighted areas that may be unresolved etc. We’re in the process of adding all the different equipment we could possibly hire, and making sure everything from our inventory is in the system, from lighting and structures to flooring and furniture.

Being able to track the time of all our guys means two things: one, we can capture those costs and charge them out, which is really important. Two, we've got surety around what we're actually charging for, so we don't run the risk of mistakenly charging hours that aren't relevant to that job or missing hours on a job that should have been charged, either of these scenarios are not positive. In this day and age, if you make a mistake in invoicing, you have to go back on that - and that impacts the trust factor with your clients.

We do invoicing through WorkflowMax and push it through to Xero. In Xero I look at our profit and loss on a monthly basis and refer this back to our budget. Are we hitting the marks? We’re starting to drill into Xero coding right now, making sure all the line items in the budgets, income and cost sales are lining up with the coding in Xero.

How do you hope to improve your workflow?

Simon: As I said, we’re working on the Xero coding right now. We’re about 80% there now, and I’m hoping by the end of April we’ll be 95% there.

What do you love most about WorkflowMax?

Simon: The ability to be able to track any number of projects, and the clarity we get around the numbers on those projects, and the efficiency to be able to invoice out and receipts costs entered. When you think about it from a business perspective, being able to actually associate a cost to a project when all sorts of papers are being thrown around, well … that’s just brilliant. I don’t know how other people do without WorkflowMax.

Thanks Simon! If you’re running a company using WorkflowMax and want to talk workflow with us, then drop us a line at steff.green@xero.com and we can interview you for our User Stories feature.