Case Study - AJA Architects

The Client

Established in 1979, Coventry-based Alan Johnson Associates Chartered Architects have built a solid reputation in a number of different sectors with particular expertise in master-planning, commercial, large-scale distribution, industrial, retail, and more recently, residential development.

Employing 26 staff and three partners, this dynamic firm of architects has a focused philosophy. They work closely with their clients in order to understand their real needs and deliver a solution that best serves the true requirements of those clients. This philosophy extends not only through their design, planning, and customer service capabilities, but also into their administration, cost control, and accounting functions.
 
Mary Corrigan, the firm’s Financial Controller, recognises the value that such a philosophy provides. ‘The relationship between Alan Johnson Associates and its clients is one of mutual professional trust,’ she states. ‘Our clients expect us to provide exceptional capabilities at an agreed budget. On the other hand, our firm expects to be paid for agreed schedules of work that have been carried out.'
 

The Problem

‘As Financial Controller, my mission is to ensure financial accuracy. We must closely monitor our costs for every project. In this manner, we are able to demonstrate to our clients the exact work that has been carried out by us on any particular project, and also bring best practice financial control to the firm in order to nurture profitability.
 
‘Through such financial controls, we protect the best interests both for our clients and our firm.’
 

The Solution

Alan Johnson Associates uses Sage Coretime to provide greater financial controls.
 
Sage Coretime is a powerful and easy to use time recording and project management software solution that enables users to track all costs relevant to specific projects. Users can easily record time spent on any project, as well as relevant third party expenses, while also maintaining a record of activities carried out during specific project phases.
 

Instant data

Instant data availability allows for accurate invoicing, while also yielding a comprehensive management capability that provides the firm’s partners with an instant overview of any project’s costs, resource deployment, and activity levels. 
In this manner, Sage Coretime not only acts as a comprehensive cost control system, but also provides managers with a detailed history of any given project.

Easy to use

‘Except for two people, all members of our staff use Sage Coretime on an ongoing basis,’ Mary explains. ‘Because the system is so easy to use, Alan Johnson staff can quickly enter relevant time into the system, as well as other project details. This data becomes a permanent record within the firm which not only allows us to accurately invoice out both time and third party costs, but also provides a detailed record of activities carried out for any project.’
 

Instant project overview

Comprehensive time and activity details held by Sage Coretime allow Alan Johnson staff to serve their clients even better. Coretime enables managers to quickly determine not only the number of hours spent by all staff on particular projects, but also drill down to determine precisely which staff members are involved in any project, and what they accomplished on any particular project phase.
 

Detailed project records to share with clients

These capabilities allow Sage Coretime users to develop comprehensive reports that demonstrate to clients exactly how staff has been deployed to accomplish specific project objectives, and what costs have been incurred to accomplish those objectives.
 
Activity reporting enables Sage Coretime users to also deploy staff more effectively and to also communicate levels of service (including project hours spent, staff deployment, and specific activities carried out) to clients on a real-time basis.
 
Sage Coretime therefore provides a powerful time tracking and project management solution that facilitates best practice management capabilities, while also facilitating strong customer relationships and accurate financial controls.
 

Integration with Sage 50 leads to gains in accuracy and efficiency
 

‘Because this software accurately tracks all hours spent on any particular project, as well as relevant third party costs, I find that the invoicing and budget tracking process is efficient and accurate,’ Mary states. ‘At the end of a period, I can quickly print out a report on specific projects. This provides me with the number of hours spent during that period as well as any expenses that were incurred.
 
‘I then assign the relevant hourly rate to time costs incurred in order to determine the invoice amount. Using this information, together with recorded expenses incurred on specific projects, we are able to accurately invoice out those costs. In that we are also Sage Line 50 users, I can quickly transfer invoiced amounts to this general management accounting system in order to track our P/L, cash on hand, debtors, creditors, and similar.
 
‘Sage Coretime quickly provides me with the data that I require to invoice accurately. And because it captures all other relevant third party costs and expenses, I can ensure that those costs are correctly invoiced in order to maintain project profitability.’
 

Clear visibility of profitability

Due to its accurate time recording processes, Sage Coretime enables Mary to invoice accurately, while also allowing her to closely monitor the profitability of any project.‘Sage Coretime facilitates comprehensive project reporting,’ Mary explains. ‘This capability allows our firm’s partners to quickly determine if we are on track to meet budgets. Such reporting provides us with the ability to control our costs in order to maintain profitability, while also allowing us to serve our clients better.’
 

Historical data to aid future forecasting

Sage Coretime also provides users with comprehensive histories of any project. Those histories, stored in a stable system’s archive, can provide exceptional details of any project including time incurred on specific project phases, third party costs and expenses, details of staff assigned to those projects, and day-to-day reports that provide a diary of activities carried out to complete project objectives.
 
These histories can act as a long-term memory for any company. Multi-level data provides managers with information resources required to help make informed decisions regarding future strategies, staffing levels, resources requirements for future projects, and as a basis for determining budgets for new projects.
‘Historical information available through Coretime can help us to better budget future projects,’ Mary states. ‘For instance, if we have been asked to tender for a specific project, we can look back into the Coretime database and determine what resources were required to complete a past project of a similar type. By so doing, we are in a much better position to accurately budget future projects.’
 
Sage Coretime can act as a comprehensive memory for any company. By understanding what resources were required to accomplish past projects, managers are in a better position to more accurately budget future projects.

Excellent support from Onesys

Alan Johnson and Associates receive comprehensive support for Sage Coretime from Onesys. With offices in York and London, Onesys prides itself in delivering professional service support and training for those software solutions that it provides.‘Onesys are right there when I need them,’ Mary states. ‘I find them excellent, and if I have any questions or queries the company is there to help me instantly.’
 

The Outcome

All in all, we are delighted with Sage Coretime,’ Mary concludes. ‘We find it accurate, robust, and easy to use. Our staff find it user friendly, providing them with the confidence that they require in order to use it on a day-to-day basis.'
 
‘I would recommend Sage Coretime to any company that wants to increase its ability to track and record time, invoice accurately, and establish better project-related management and financial controls. Its reporting facility helps us to increase efficiencies, and the level of information available also allows us to provide even better levels of service to our clients.’

Onesys are the number 1 supplier of Sage Coretime in the UK with over 400 client installations. Contact Onesys for more information on how Sage Coretime can help your Architects business. We offer a full consultation and free trial of the software so that you understand exactly how Sage Coretime will help your business.