For more than 22 years, Stilwell have been providing top-level engineering consultancy services to developers and local authorities. If there's a decision to be made on a housing development about drainage, planning, services, design elements or construction, owner Nick Stilwell and his team are there to make it easy. It's a delicate balancing act and on every job, there is a lot to manage.
Which is why it's even more astounding that when the firm started, Nick and Technical Director David were relying on their own memories and the memories of their staff to manage the work. Not surprisingly, this system wasn't working so well. "We were literally losing jobs and leads," explained Nick. "We relied on our own and our employees memories to progress a job, which was a huge mistake." Enter WorkflowMax.
Stilwell also used manual time sheets, and found that at the end of the month everyone struggled to remember what they did in the first week. Everything was very disorganised, and everyone was recording time in a different way, making the monthly admin a nightmare. "Now," reports David. "That's a thing of the past. We have WorkflowMax set up with reminders and milestones to keep us on track with jobs. We have time-tracking. All the data is in one place."
Time sheeting has also become much easier. The staff hated filling in manual timesheets, and can you blame them? "When I showed them that all they need to do is record their time straight into WorkflowMax, they said 'Oh wow. This is awesome!' That really helped us get everyone onboard."
"We think the software is absolutely fantastic." adds Nick. "It's just what we need. We are a small business but we have lots of clients, lots of projects, lots of repeat work for the same clients. Just to be able to organize it all under the client is slick and efficient. We never used project management packages before, but WorkflowMax helps keep us on track. The whole WorkflowMax + Xero combination was a breath of fresh air."
Under their old, ad hoc system, invoicing clients was extremely laborious. Time sheets were done in a spreadsheet and this was connected to the old DOS-based accounting system. But it didn't capture everything. "We'd actually lost lots of labour time and costs because they wouldn't go through the system in the right way." says Jennie. "We relied on once-a-month printing of tons of paperwork, going through and checking everything and manually adding anything that dropped off. I can't imagine going back to that system!"
"It used to take us hours and hours and hours. Now I can invoice any time. A client says, "Can you send an invoice?" and I can do it straight away because all the data is real-time. We have access to most up-to-date information at any point of time."
One of the aspects that Nick particularly loves about WorkflowMax is the fact that it's based in the cloud. Stilwell's financial director lives in Birmingham and comes down to London once a month for the board meeting. Despite this, he is able to see what is going on with the business at any time, from wherever he is located.
"This is so much more efficient than what we used to do. Our financial lady would produce a spreadsheet for him a week before the board meeting. It would take a long time and he'd often receive the report a day before the meeting, and he'd get annoyed because he didn't have time for any prep work. Now, he knows where we stand at any time so it's cut down on this extra work, but when we arrive at the board meeting, it takes a few minutes to explain where we're at, and that's the end of it."
"Instead of just one person controlling whether you are getting money in the bank or not, anyone with access to WorkflowMax can ask questions about different parts of a project. This level of transparency across the business is a sea change for us and we have really adapted that in our culture."
Andy says, "In the building industry, there is a lot of project management for each job – managing designers, clients, council and builders.
"Within our industry the value lies in effective project management of the job. The designers, the client, the builder are all wanting information and in WorkflowMax everything is in one place, so when the client calls we are fully prepared!"