We can access information at the touch of a button and it’s changing the way we do things.

Clare Aveling is finance director at London and US-based Candyspace, a company delivering game-changing apps, websites and digital products that supercharge customer experience and maximise business growth.

Clare says, “We were using several systems across the company to manage different aspects of the business, for example, resource planning, job costing and financial management, and relying on spreadsheets for month-end. The systems didn’t talk to each other and so financial reporting was time-consuming.

“We’d been looking for a system that would suit several purposes for a long time but hadn’t found anything that was right for us,” says Clare. “Lots of systems did the resource planning and job costing but didn’t bring it all together from a financial perspective. Revenue recognition was the biggest issue.

“We had several discussions with The Agency Works about what we needed from a system and involved our Head of Delivery and Head of Sales in those conversations, to make sure the system met the different needs. In particular, we talked about what we needed to allow revenue recognition and accounts reporting at month-end.”

Clare AvelingFinance DirectorCandyspace

Lots of systems did the resource planning and job costing but didn’t bring it all together from a financial perspective.

Clare says, “Now we’re using just one system for finance and delivery rather than several – it’s had a positive impact across the entire business. Bringing all the processes together and recording data in one place has made us much more efficient. We’re saving substantial amounts of time, and because there’s no need for duplication, we’ve removed the risk of manual errors and can make decisions in real time.

“We’re working smarter too. The implementation process made us question our own processes. Stacy, our implementation manager at The Agency Works, was good at challenging us and asking why we were doing things in a particular way. She made us think about whether it was best to do things that way when Synergist could do it a different, often better, way.”

Now we’re using just one system for finance and delivery. We’re saving substantial amounts of time, and because there’s no need for duplication, we’ve removed the risk and accelerated decision making.

Clare says, “One of the topics we discussed at length was how we manage retainers. The Agency Works’ experience of working with hundreds of agencies was a huge help because they were able to advise on the best way to go about it and help us find a solution that worked for everyone.

“Going through that process review means we’re now confident that we’re following best practice process-wise and the business is benefiting.”

“We can access information at the touch of a button and it’s improving the way we do things.”

Michael Wright, Head of Delivery at Candyspace says, “We now have access to real-time performance insight because we can take month-end reporting and revenue data straight out of Synergist before the end of the month. Because we can run our forecast whenever we want, we stay on top of changes, issues and opportunities. We’re able to go into weekly forecast meetings, run through our opportunities and make the relevant changes, then click a button and produce the forecast. It has significantly reduced our reliance on spreadsheets.

“From a delivery point of view, we can easily understand whether a project is performing how we expected and if not, why not. For example, are we using more expensive resources than planned? Has the scope changed? Can we get additional fees?

“We’re now instantly able to review the forecasted profitability of a project based on the resource booked against it too. Previously this had to be done using spreadsheets which took time and effort.  Now we can use that time to analyse the information and take action where necessary.

“Being able to look back at projects means we can also take learnings and apply them to similar projects in the future. We can see what went wrong, what worked well and look to rectify or replicate those things.

“And, being able to easily understand the different profitability levels within different resources means we can also look at the resource mix we use.”

Michael says, “The ability to dig into the performance data really helps us understand where to focus our efforts. We can see our most profitable clients and understand which types of clients are most profitable. So we can be confident about whether it’s worthwhile winning work from them. It has put profitability at the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

“It felt like we had dedicated support on-hand whenever we needed it.”

“Working so closely with the same person from the outset meant The Agency Works developed an in-depth understanding of our business. They completely understood what we were trying to achieve at every stage of the process and what we needed to get there,” says Clare. “We developed such a good relationship with them and it made everything so much easier, especially when implementation had to switch to online because of COVID. It was seamless and worked really well.

“Being able to pick up the phone to them, ask a question and get an answer there and then was so helpful. It speeded up implementation, whereas if we were relying on an email support system the process would have been held up.

“Knowing we could speak to someone about a technical aspect of the system or pick their brains about a process was invaluable. It felt like we had dedicated support on-hand whenever we needed it.”

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