Keep project costs on track within your agency, with our job costing software

Not all agency job costing systems are the same. There are two very different types out there, yet the difference isn’t obvious at first glance because both are listed under the same banner of ‘job costing software.’

The functionality and benefits they can deliver to you vary greatly though. This page is intended to help you spot which is which is right for your agency.

Basic agency job costing software features

Ground-level software, often in piecemeal basic modules, addresses this sort of area:

Capturing hours and costs with basic TimesheetsEstimating and budgets stored as part of the job details. Purchasing including mark-ups and purchase orders. Billingoften handled by the accounts system as the job costing software is treated a simple add-on to this.

Advanced agency job costing software features

In contrast, a comprehensive system raises the bar much higher. It has the power to pull everything together into an agency / business management suite. With it you can drive company profitability, focus on company goals, receive alerts on problems as they arise, develop your team in new ways and help you steer the very direction of your agency or consultancy.

Here are some of the advanced job costing features you can enjoy with Synergist:

  • Capturing hours and costs. Easy capture of all costs at source including time, purchases and expenses. Online timesheets that intelligently prompt the user when entering data, creating information that builds into your project / agency management system and is shared in real time with other team members who need to see it.
  • Quotations and estimating. Quick quoting from scratch or from a template to help with accuracy. Management of multiple hourly rates, including client-specific rates, plus formatting to make it easy to turn an estimate into a branded quotation, which in turn becomes the budget for the job if accepted. Actual and expected costs. It’s all linked together.
  • Job progress visibility. Online access for the team giving visibility of jobs, clients, projects and progress in real-time. A team member who updates something from a remote location via their smartphone automatically updates the entire system, no matter their geography or time of day.
  • A comprehensive purchase system including purchase estimates, mark-ups, purchase orders and nominal analysis links to leading accounts systems such as sage and xero
  • Drag-and-drop scheduling of people and resources. Work requests. Timing plans. Team loading, with under- and over-loading highlighted to those who need to see it.
  • Capacity planning. The management of all your agency's team members, ensuring that as many of them as possible are working productively on billable work and are prompted intelligently.
  • Job / project tracking. Informing team members what they need to know in their role, in reports and dashboards, giving the information needed on which to make smart decisions every day.
  • An intelligent draft invoice creation and approval process, leading to branded invoices by print, email or electronically, with such features as multi-currency support.
  • Configurable email alerts to notify users of certain situations and potential problems.
  • Full work in progress (WIP) reporting along with intelligent billing plans.
  • Clear visibility of estimated and actual profitability. 

Click below to find out more about all these areas and how project work flows through Synergist as a complete, integrated system. 

See Synergist Flow

Job Costing Dashboard

Job and project phase profitability

Synergist's job or job phase profitability allows you to easily and painlessly pull off a report to show you the actual profitability of your complete project or a phase within a project. Costs will not appear on this list until the final invoice has been submitted, so only actual costs and not expected costs will appear in this highly-accurate report.

The total of all costs on the job (with data from timesheets) or job phase are then used with the total of all invoices to evaluate total profit or loss.

This report will provide you with granular information on your current project phase or complete project profitability. You can see markup % and margin % (profit as a % of total cost and profit as a % of total invoiced retrospectively), total recommended charge and total investment. If you wish, you can also exclude time and expense costs from the profit calculation to show gross profit rather than the standard net profit.

This level of detail allows you to continually improve your profitability, highlighting the areas that are eating away at your profits and allowing you to apply these learnings to future projects.

Click below to find out more about forecasting profit and loss with Synergist.

Forecasting Profit And Loss

Revenue recognition

Synergist has a revenue recognition interface. This allows you to adjust the amount of income you recognise in your reports to sit in line with project billing thus far and project progress. So your reporting on project financials are always accurate against the health of the project. With this approach, over runs, and the implications on the project, will immediately be picked up in financial reporting.  Similarly, extremely profitable projects will also be quickly evident.

There are numerous ways that you can configure your revenue recognition tool to suit your process and wider project reporting. For example, you can choose to recognise revenue not yet billed or defer revenue already billed. You can also choose to recognise turnover or profit.

Benefits of job costing that's integrated within a wider agency system

The difference between basic and advanced systems is extremely significant. It's not simply a question of having more features to work with. Synergist's advanced job costing software sits within a wider, cohesive agency management system - that can track projects, profits and integrates with wider agency information, so your purchasing doesn't operate in a silo.

This has the power to transform your agency. Some examples of the benefits, outside of standard features, that you'll enjoy with Synergist are below:

1. PROFITS. The drive to make profit is a fundamental part of the health of any business. But project-based businesses have particular challenges they have to grapple with every day.

That’s why it makes sense to use job costing software built from the outset with project-optimised intelligence, helping you optimise the projects and profitability. How does it do that?

Reducing over-servicing. Over-servicing is a huge problem in the agency and project-based world. Having a serious system helps you identify exactly where the issues are, enabling you to take action before they get out of hand.

Saving wasted time. A creative agency MD told us: “We used to spend masses of time searching for information or pulling together reports or estimating work or doing invoices. Such a waste. Now, that’s all cleaned up. It leaves more time for client focus.”

Reducing cost overruns. The managing director of one Synergist-using consultancy told us that reducing cost overruns was the first benefit they noticed after implementation. See their story.

Focusing on the right clients. The data delivers the facts you need to make tough decisions. Which clients are really contributing? Do you keep a prestige but unprofitable client? True facts at your fingertips enable smart, informed decisions.

Automatic alerts. You and your team can receive alerts by email based on set criteria on matters they’re handling, such as costs, late timesheets, late jobs, overdue tasks, and more.

2. GROWTH. Promoting the growth of your business is central to the ambitions of most.

But how can software help you achieve that, exactly? We list some examples.

Scalability. Not all software is scalable. Making the wrong choice early on can cause later problems and major disruption. You can suddenly discover that you need to start all over again with a new system – just when you’re having a growth spurt.

Gaining financial control of your business. It’s tempting to focus on finding new clients and assume the finances will fall into place. Sadly, we have seen so many crises. A serious system gives you control of your finances and the data you need to make your biggest decisions every day.

Continuously developing your company. An MD using Synergist: “It’s all about making aggregated small gains in many areas to improve overall performance, sometimes with massive results. Our new system makes it easy for us to do precisely this now.”

Developing your pipeline of business opportunities. Nurturing leads into live projects as part of your linked-together system makes sense. You only ever enter data once in the journey from distant prospect to client to invoice.

3. COMPANY DIRECTION. Steering an agency is notoriously difficult bearing in mind the variables and complexities involved.

But a smart system reduces complexities, clarifies decisions and removes many surprises. Here's how.

  • Company goals. Implementing a system like this gives you the opportunity to decide what your company’s goals and priorities really are. The system has built-in switches selected to help you focus on the essentials you decide on.
  • Company KPIs. Having the right tools lets you focus on the KPIs you need. Are you prioritising profitability? Or growth? Or opening up new business sectors? Or developing your team? The data is there to help you focus.
  • Seeing hidden patterns. When everything’s pulled together you can see things that you couldn’t see before. For example, the level of profitability in individual clients, or client types, projects, project types, teams, and so on.

4. TEAM DEVELOPMENT. It's famously difficult to recruit great talent nowadays. It's a lot smarter to develop the people you already have wherever possible.

Can having a smart system even help in this? Yes. Agencies using Synergist tell us of several ways.

  • Helping them make better decisions. It’s empowering for a team to be able to see the facts they need every day. It not only improves their decision-making; it improves their confidence about making those decisions, raising their game.
  • Helping them develop financial awareness. A big payoff of a smart system is the visibility your team has on the commercial impact of their actions. It can be an eye-opener, leading to better focus and client steering.
  • Helping them run their area 'like a little business'. Individuals can see their role as a mini-entrepreneur. They take a pride in seeing the difference they make and feel a sense of responsibility they may never have felt before.
  • Improving team collaboration. In some businesses there’s a constant battle for client resources. Who shouts loudest, wins. But giving transparency to team members changes this. They see the workload of others, and understand.