About the company
Blank Architects is a full-service design firm founded in 2002. Since 2010, the company has been in close collaboration in the BACE consortium with CLANCY ENGINEERING and realizes joint expertise in the design of fire protection systems and civil engineering.
- Industry: Architecture and engineering.
Company size: 150 employees.
- Countries: Russia
- Revenue in 2021: 180 million rubles.
«For us, time is not only an opportunity to implement bold projects, but also a basic economic indicator. We need to know how much time we have planned and how much time we have spent on each project or stage of a project, and we need to assess the future workload of our employees. At the end of the day, time information tells us how cost-effective our projects are. We've been using Timetta for over four years now, and we can recommend the system as a reliable time tracking, workload planning and efficiency evaluation tool for our project teams.Peter FonfaraPartner BLANK ARCHITECTS
We are able to design any object from scratch, from the concept to commissioning. We also design interiors, visualize objects, create architectural concepts, engineering systems and branding. In addition, we supervise the production of furniture. We currently employ about one hundred and fifty people. Over the past two and a half years, our company has doubled in size. In addition to engineering infrastructure, our portfolio includes designed housing, hotels, sports and medical facilities, and shopping centers. Blank Architects also does landscape design with an emphasis on aesthetics. We participate in various tenders. For example, a Moscow metro station designed by us will soon be opened.
At the moment we have about twenty people working in our concept department. Their number is growing and in a few months there will be about 25-30 people working there. There is also a department for interiors which has about 20-25 people. There are two more departments, which are involved in further development of projects and each of them has about 25 people. In the visualization department, we have five people. There is also a subdivision which deals with furniture and interior design and we have our own production. Blank Architects has a branding and navigation department. There is also a design division, it's several working groups. There are 35 people in total. Besides, we have about 35 engineers in all areas.
From 2002 to 2012, we had 30-40 employees. As the company grew, we separated a management cell, and now it is a department of project managers, of which there are only five people. There is also a department of chief project engineers and a staff of administrative specialists: lawyers, financiers, HR specialists.
Blank Architects is now transitioning from a family business to a corporate management model. The prerequisite for this was the successful completion of «Dynamo» stadium project that lasted 4 years. In this project we tested a lot of management innovations, which at the end of the project our chief operating officer asked me to implement centrally in the company.
As Blank Architects grew, I began looking for a system to account for employee time and utilization by project. I didn't want to swell the staff just to maintain the service, be dependent on developers and support. It was also not in the plans to incur additional costs over the long term because of it.
Previously, all financial planning and time tracking was done in Excel spreadsheets, and each employee filled out his timesheet. Based on all of this, I had monthly reports that I sent to the finance department. There, the employees would manually enter the data into their system to form a budget. It was a very time-consuming long process with a lot of mistakes. It took 3 people and at least 3 days to collect, process and analyze data like that to get the financial picture of the month. With a workload of 25-30 projects, it took about 10 working days for an employee to get ready for the budget advice. When I came across Timetta, the first thing that won me over was its simplicity and intuitiveness.
During the first two years of implementation, some departments simply ignored the system. Nevertheless, the need for accurate timekeeping became urgent in October 2020, during the pandemic: at that time, the number of errors in reporting reached unbelievable levels. We connected another company from the consortium of 70 people to the service, and since Q4 2020, all of the company's reporting went through Timetta using timesheets.
We've been using Timetta for 4 years now, but even now we don't use all the modules because we just don't need to yet. Nevertheless, I would like to express my opinion about the resource planning module.
We don't have a resource manager at the company level. Previously, when we filled in resource planning data at the project level, we saw the information displayed in the overall calendar. And it was easy to see the overall workload, it was displayed graphically quite clearly. Now this module has been updated.
Our finance department uses analytics to unload information on projects. We look at unpaid work and divide it into different categories. This could be, for example, participating in interviews with new employees. Now we understand how much money the company loses, how many hours of downtime each employee gets per month.
In the future, we would like to see graphical dashboards for all projects with standard data in Timetta, so that it is easy to see. Because there can be problems with reading tables.
Filling out timesheets in Excel and Timetta takes about the same amount of time. In Timetta, more people are involved in reconciling data, which wasn't the case before. Managers now also understand what their subordinates are doing each week, which was difficult to control before. It is important that the system closes off tasks from employees that are not intended for them, and before the implementation the entire company was piling up on some project behind the manager's back. Also, after setting up reports, we have a real financial picture of the projects, while previously we had to wait for several months. More than half of the budget reports had critical errors that needed to be corrected. Thanks to Timetta, this is no longer the case.
Peter Fonfara — LinkedIn