Australia’s Total Synergy provides a SaaS-based practice management toolset aimed at architects, engineers and other small AEC design firms, and is going global.
North Sydney, Australia-based Total Synergy has been developing its practice management tools for architects and engineers since 2000. I met founder and CEO Scott Osborne on a recent trip to London, along with EMEA regional manager Damiaan van Zanen, and they told me something of the history of the now 27-strong firm, and its forward ambitions.
Initially, the core Synergy product was a conventional on-premise toolset. It was competing against platforms such as the UK-based Union Square (acquired by Deltek in July 2016), Rapport3 and CMAP (its focus on AEC designers separates it slightly from providers such as the UK’s BuilderStorm, US-based e-Sub.com and New Zealand’s TidyBuild – post). Having made the full transition to the cloud, the company is now looking to expand internationally. I saw van Zanen doing the rounds at Digital Construction Week two weeks ago; he manages the company’s London office in Clerkenwell. An office in north America is to be established in 2018 to expand the product’s round-the-clock human support and provide a US-based sales and marketing team.
An accountant by background, Osborne says Synergy is designed to meet the changing needs of the AEC sector globally.
“Approximately 95 percent of global AEC businesses have fewer than 25 staff. We developed Synergy to enable this majority to untether from their offices and desks through a pure cloud software application. Synergy is designed to help all small-to- medium AEC businesses identify where they are profitable, manage their work and documentation, and collaborate with industry colleagues and clients on the same platform… without adding the significant cost and complexity found in bigger systems.”
Synergy is intended to help the AEC industry find more time for design. Drawing on the experiences of 10,000 users in Australia and New Zealand, Osborne says this is a key challenge for small-to- medium AEC professional services businesses:
“A simple example of immediate time savings is from one of our recent beta trials: a structural engineering
company of four people saved one-and- a-half days of time in just invoicing after only one month… that’s
one-and- a-half days back for the managing director who does almost everything in a firm that size.”
Three core functions
Synergy offers three core function areas for AEC design businesses: project accounting, project management, and collaboration. The service was launched globally this week, with a new website and a new video:
The product is built around a core offering of cloud-based project accounting, project management and collaboration, with strong dashboards and reporting functions. It has tools to set staff rates, and to manage documents, invoices, contacts, images and timesheets and is integrated with small business accounting solutions including Xero, QuickBooks Online and MYOB AccountRight Live, so avoiding double entry of information.
The company is not intending for Synergy to compete with the SaaS collaboration products of firms such as Aconex, Procore or Newforma. “Our aim is to integrate with the solutions from these guys,” van Zanen told me. “Where businesses do want to do some basic 2D markup we are working on an integration with the Bullclip tool from Drawboard.” He said some resource planning and related Gantt chart functionality would be added to the toolset in 2018 too.
‘Professional’ pricing start from £10 per user per month, allowing up to 2GB of storage per user, while the ‘Business’ band costs from £15, with 5GB per user and offering more document and invoice templates and deeper project phasing options.