Nottingham-based graphic design agency Threerooms have had some pretty demanding projects over the years. But none have been as demanding as the shift from a start-up business – operating out of owner Ian's bedroom – to a fully-fledged design studio with premises and processes and paperwork.
With this change in the scope and scale of the company, Ian needed a software solution that would enable him to dial back the admin demands of the business. He discovered WorkflowMax, and couldn't be happier with the results. "The visibility and transparency in the business has gone through the roof." says Ian. "We can easily identify and analyze what is happening and can get onto any problems straight away."
In the design business, where everything is so subjective, a huge amount of the team's time is dedicated to client amendments on projects.
"It's a bit of an unknown," says Ian. "Will the client sign off on design straight away, or will they request 100 amendments to it?" Ian allows some time for amendments in Threerooms' quotes to make changes and get the final result, but it's important to keep on top of this time, because additional time spent on amendments can quickly eat up the company's profit.
"I can look at the task "Design Amendments" in WorkflowMax and see how it's going. If something is flagged instantly I can see what's gone wrong and address that directly with the designer. Sometimes, it might be because our computers crash, in which case we absorb the cost as it's our issue. But we can often go to a client and get them to add some extra budget for amendments over and above what we anticipated."Having this visibility means costs don't skyrocket, and we can get paid for the work we do, rather than missing it."
Ian uses the purchase orders function to track the spending in the business. His goal is to spend less and less time overseeing spending and more time growing the company, so employees are using the purchase order function to manage the costs of their own jobs.
"Because I can see the purchase orders in one click," explains Ian, "I can see all purchase orders that are issued or money allowed to spend. You create a cost, you create a purchase for that cost which is sent to the customer, the supplier sends us an invoice – and there is a number on it – and all I have to do is put in the supplier invoice number, tally up with the costs and we fully receipt that cost and it goes straight into Xero."
"Having that visibility is very important to me right now – being able to see the potential liability to the business in terms of costs at any given time. "
Since opting for WorkflowMax, cashflow and sales at Threerooms have improved dramatically. Now that the company can see exactly how many hours each project takes, and the costs associated with each job, they can ensure they are always charging more than they spend on each project.
"Designers can go on and on for weeks for a single project," laughs Ian. "There is always something better, there is always something more they can tweak. By having a visual aid like a green bar that turns red, they can track how much time they have available, and being able to break that time down into tasks as well – all of that really helps my staff.
"Now that we have WorkflowMax in place, as a business owner I feel I've been able to empower our staff enough so that they can manage everything themselves and do the best job in it."