From XU Magazine, 
Issue 26

”Nothing gets missed”

Accurate time tracking ensures consulting engineering firm, Projects & Designs Engineers, always deliver on time and on budget.

Famed for its long sandy beaches, top surfing spots and almost 300 days of sunshine a year, Australia’s Gold Coast and the metropolitan area around Brisbane have long been hugely attractive places to live, work and visit. Consulting firm, Projects & Designs Engineers, are well placed at the heart of this growing community with their structural and civil design and engineering business. We speak to contract administrator Stefi Larranaga about how they deliver projects that keep customers coming back.

It takes a dedicated team of structural and civil engineers and drafting technicians with many years of industry experience to carry out the highly detailed projects undertaken by Projects & Designs Engineers. Their work drawing up plans, submitting applications for Council project approval and overseeing construction on numerous site visits, combined with a customer promise of guaranteed turnaround times has earned them a reputation for delivering on time and on budget. So, it’s important that they keep track of their time, as Stefi Larranaga explains:

“As soon as I receive a job, it goes straightaway to TidyWork - that’s how we start allocating time. One of the reports that we use a lot is the project statement. That shows us our time and milestones and other things like how much we invoice, how many hours we spend on drafting and engineering time, if we have meetings, how much time we allocate to that. We look at every single time on the job.”   

Managing workload from quote to completion 

Projects & Designs Engineers work on a wide variety of residential projects ranging from high and mid-rise apartments to luxury residences and commercial properties used for child and elderly care. They recently completed work on a house that sold for $A 27 million. With such large budgets and crucial deadlines, Stefi explains how every minute managed in TidyWork counts: 

“By allocating time into TidyWork rather than using spreadsheets, there’s about 10 hours’ time saving a week between the whole team since using TidyWork. We have been using it for more than 4 years. We use it to allocate the time of full-time employees and external subcontractors who work remotely.” 

Accounting for every minute 

It’s the expertise of the engineers and the time they spend working on projects in the office and on clients’ sites that’s the keystone to the business of Projects & Designs Engineers, so it’s important that nothing is missed. Stefi explains: “We make sure that we invoice everything. Because we are a business, we should be profitable. And if you don’t keep track, if you don’t look at the time, it’s just it’s not going to work.” 

“Before in Excel it was hard to track. So that’s why we like TidyWork. You can see if you’re spending too much time on a job. You can see how the job’s going, if it’s profitable, if it was quoted too low in comparison with the time they’re spending on it.” 

With such large engineering and construction projects, it’s almost inevitable that not everything will go exactly to plan. Stefi says it’s important that they use software that adapts to their needs and can help them account for project changes: “Our structural and civil engineers design to the best of their knowledge and to comply with Australian standards and practices. But sometimes when they go to site there are challenges - perhaps they cannot find the exact materials, so they have to come up with a solution. Those are some of the challenges of the industry. They do make sure that everything is up to scratch with the structure.” 

Adapting to new software 

Initially, Projects & Designs Engineers worked with Robert King, Director of Integration Kings. Integration Kings is a partner of Tidy that help small businesses move to cloud-based applications to ultimately run more efficiently and improve their profitability. Stefi says it was a great way to introduce new software to their company: 

“We adapted very quickly. We’d never go back to using Excel again for time sheets. Rob was great, he was super patient. He came here to the office and first he trained me and then he trained the guys.”  

How business changed in 2020 

Like millions of businesses around the world, COVID-19, has meant changes to ways of working and doing business at Projects & Designs Engineers. “This year, has been a particularly challenging year, says Stefi. “Back at the beginning, in March, April, when things were starting to get complicated, we took some days off just to see where things were going. And then some of the guys decided to work from home. Others like me came to the office. So I was particularly busy here working in the office and getting everything organised.”  

While some of their larger projects were put on hold for a while, their reputation for reliability and quality of service meant that the company picked up a lot of renovation projects as local residents sought out engineers to help with improvements to their homes.

Now, Stefi says that construction is returning to Queensland: “Many people from New South Wales and Victoria are moving back. And even expats from Dubai and other parts of the world, they’re coming back and they’re buying properties. The property market here is so hot at the moment. Everyone was expecting that the market would drop. As it was really uncertain at some point, but now it is a stronger market.” 

Adapting for the future 

Thanks to their experience adapting to the changing economic landscape, Stefi believes that Projects & Designs Engineers is well placed to continue applying its skills and experience to delight commercial and residential customers with new buildings in future: “Sometimes change is good, but it’s also difficult to get used to new things. And actually, Tidy has been so easy to adapt, because of that flexibility to connect to Xero. Anything that can help you to get your work done easier, more accurate and faster is welcome.”

Why leave it there?

To find out more about how you can make your business Tidy

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