From spreadsheets to Synergist

Spike and Darryl

Who are Spike? A retail technology consultancy delivering end-to-end, go-live confidence for the biggest retail brands.

Spike help perfect digital retail experiences. From strategy, build engineering, performance testing and analytics, Spike ensure the experience for businesses and customers is fast, secure and performs above expectation.

Who is Darryl Kennedy?  Spike's Director. “We focus on quality, when our clients are upgrading or replacing tech we help ensure it’s the way it should be for them.”

In late 2020 they began conversations and product demos with Synergist. The Synergist team began build and migrations early Jan 2021, then training began. The system was ready in March 2021.

“Synergist is the cornerstone of the business."

"It has given us the opportunity to look three, six, nine months down the line in terms of where we need people, where projects are dropping off and things are starting up. It helps us in every way possible.”

Life before Synergist – the challenges

Spreadsheets. Different projects on the go. Different people delivering them. Tracking sales, planning and estimating were done with Excel.

A new sheet was created for each client, a new estimate or a project plan. A new sheet was created for billing times, and another to manage resources.

Spreadsheets meant more admin, duplications and inconsistencies. One person in the team could be working on one sheet for one client and another working on an old version from the team’s shared drive. Working on live projects with too many basic spreadsheet calculations that were always refactoring and on the edge of breaking. The team were so heavily reliant on data that could so easily be incorrect.

When you’re in a team of 2-3 people, spreadsheets are an ideal tool but Spike had grown to a size that meant it needed a platform to accommodate this. Synergist’s arrival came at the perfect time as Spike had won work with a large retailer and managing timesheets, holidays, costs and who worked when, on what and their fees, would have been impossible to manage on Excel. It would have been a permanent job for someone.

Spike

Why Synergist?

There were “lots of things we wanted to bring to one place and Synergist was the answer.”

“We need all the features it provides.”

“The system is simple and easy to use. It just made sense.”

“No huge overheads.”

Spike were attracted to the reporting and the configuration to any business needs. Synergist knocked other competitors out of the market.

“It was an absolute no-brainer.”

Spike were attracted to the multi-level costings and chargings that Synergist offers – using client-specific rate cards or on an individual basis. “Things like that work really well for us as it allows us to deliver flexible pricing models to our clients and managing our internal costs. There were lots of tweaks we could make to suit us.”

Spike

Benefits enjoyed today

"Time. Plus comfort and confidence that we know exactly where our business is at.

“Synergist is the cornerstone of the business, we have all our information and data in there. We have monthly board sessions, weekly sales chats, numerous meetings to just talk data” – now they have that visibility.

“It has given us the opportunity to look three, six, nine months down the line in terms of where we need people, where projects are dropping off and things are starting up. It helps us in every way possible."

“The transparency of where we are at any given time is helpful, we know what runway we’ve got left on what purchase orders, we can see how far through projects we are, where resources are, where they’re costed and scheduled etc."

"The reporting gives us a view of where our availability is coming and where we need to have conversations with clients.”

For Spike, estimating is very quick and easy to do now. “Whether these are done by one of the Directors, the sales team or a delivery manager, our estimate will be aligned”.

Job costing dashboard and job list

Example Synergist screens — not Spike's live data

Billing plans allow Spike to see all of their sales forecasting, something they could do previously but would be mining data from three or four different places for a single view that is already out of date within 15 minutes.

“Now it’s in Synergist, we just open the dashboard to see where we are.”

The business has also written a lot of custom reports in the data viewer that allow them to see what their burn down is according to billing plans and where their revenue is going to drop.”

Darryl says these insights are invaluable, especially when it comes to making the right business decisions – “we haven’t seen the pain we could have probably ended up in had we not transitioned over to Synergist, this was 100% the right decision and 100% the right time to do it.”

Darryl says they were looking for visibility, based on sales estimates, on what types of resources they need, when they need them and how long for. Something that Synergist didn’t do out the box, the team are currently looking at what is customisable to the way they work.

“Any issues… we’re told by the support team to leave it with them and it can be fixed within a few hours. That’s worked really well.”

Spike

Implementing Synergist

“Because Synergist is fundamental to our business, if we aren’t using it correctly we could really be making some bad business decisions.”

Working with The Agency Works team through the onboarding process, Darryl says they’d discover more configurations they wanted so the system could work just for them. The Agency Works team would “tell us to leave it with them and they’ll make the changes”.

It felt like an easy collaboration with people knowing about professional services and what Spike are about, making it easy to configure the system to exactly what they need.

The insights The Agency Works have brought have been fantastic.

“We don’t know what Synergist is capable of – we’re still learning. For someone with so much experience that understands your business and Synergist to say that you’re on the right trajectory; just a couple of tweaks will help improve utilisation, really gives you confidence we are doing things the right way.”

“It never felt like we bought a product and it was over to us. With the support we’ve received, we never felt like we were on our own – something that could be really daunting.”

“Rich did a lot of training with us, he understood where we were and what we were trying to achieve and how the system could be configured to help this."

"We wanted to track the invoices we sent to clients, he created some custom fields in there for us to do that. Invoicing, for us, at the end of every month used to take us ages to get timesheets in and write invoices."

"Now, we get to the last day of every month and have a 15 minute meeting to get it done – that, in itself, is huge and it’s all based on allocated costs that the consultants have put into the system, so now it's very, very quick and easy for us.”

Darryl describes working with The Agency Works as more of a collaboration, a partnership that has given them “peace of mind that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Kanban board and Gantt chart

Example Synergist screens — not Spike's live data

Why recommend it?

“We didn’t realise how much easier our lives could have been until the conversations about Synergist started. As a small business, money can be tight and you’re always thinking is this right? Should I spend that money elsewhere?

But I would tell someone to get off Excel, to get the features, functionality, and automation that Synergist provides – it’s an absolute no brainer and certainly one of the best decisions we have ever made as a business. It’s helped us enormously and I couldn’t talk highly enough about the difference it’s made for us.”