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WorkflowMax Reporting Delivers Valuable Business Visibility for NZ Engineering Firm [User Story]

User Stories is a regular column here on the WorkflowMax blog. 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 taking a look at what others do, you'll be able to understand how WorkflowMax can work for you.

Today we talk to Hamish Bennett, senior engineer at Auckland-based mechanical engineering firm, Dobbie Consulting.

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Tell us about Dobbie Consulting:

We’re a mechanical engineering consultancy. We specialise in the detailed design of industrial plants - I’m talking about pulp and paper mills, dairy factories, meat processing plants and power stations throughout New Zealand.

We have offices in Auckland and Rotorua, and we’ve been around for over 25 years. We’ve got around 20 staff in our firm, and they are all using WorkflowMax.

What kind of challenges were you facing before implementing WorkflowMax in your business?

Previously, we were using time-cost software called Nimbus, which was server based - so only our administrators had access to it. Our staff would fill out timesheets in Excel and then provide that to our administrators for entry. The administrators were also the only people that could pull reports out of the system. It was administrative-heavy and wasn’t particularly efficient, and it was also quite costly to get new reports created; we couldn’t simply create them ourselves.

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What process did you go through when looking for a new workflow software solution?

We did a bit of research into what products were available - looking in particular at anything that also integrated with Xero. We created a list of requirements, then we sat down with Gavin (WorkflowMax founder) and showed him some examples of the kind of reports we wanted to create.

We saw that WorkflowMax could do everything we required, so we did a trial and had a bit of a play around. We had all of our Auckland office using the system in parallel with our existing system, and from there decided we would go live for the whole business.

Everyone finds it very easy to use. Everyone started using straight away and didn’t really have any questions.

What kind of reports do you generate through WorkflowMax?

There’s dozens! It’s really easy to create reports. We’re running reports at invoicing time for job managers to approve time that’s to be invoiced out to the client. We’re tracking how staff are billing their time, whether that be to paying jobs or overhead cost-codes or improvement projects. We have a lot of specific reports for interrogating jobs in different ways, and then also closing out and producing financial summaries for how jobs have gone.

This last financial year was the first full financial year we used the system, and we’ve been measuring a lot of our company KPIs for the first time, which was an interesting process. But we’ve been managing projects and staff performance with it for quite some time now.

How do you find the invoicing process and the integration with Xero accounting software?

It’s very handy, at invoicing time, having templates built into the system that pre-populate 90% of the information that we need to send out on our invoices. And then, the invoice information automatically being transferred across to Xero has reduced the risk of missed payments or invoices not being sent out.

What would you say makes WorkflowMax great for engineers?

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It’s really easy to use, and it gives us great visibility on how the firm is tracking. The time that staff are spending on projects is also much more visible to job managers, so we’re finding it much easier to track and control our project budgets.

Thanks Hamish! If you’re running a company using WorkflowMax and want to talk workflow with us, then drop me an email steff.green@xero.com and we can interview you for User Stories.