Performance metrics and time allocation
Designing unique and sustainable cities, spaces and buildings. That is the mission of Morph Estudio, a Madrid-based architecture studio that has made a multidisciplinary approach its hallmark. A team of 100 professionals, including architects, landscape architects, engineers and quantity surveyors, combine their skills to give their projects a diverse and, at the same time, unique stamp.
The variety of professional approaches at Morph Estudio brings richness to each of its projects, but also complexity when it comes to reporting and managing them internally. And when a company works by projects and, in addition, its professionals participate in several of these jobs throughout their working day, measuring the time and resources allocated to each of them is vital in order to avoid organisational imbalances and losses for the company.
In 2018, the company decided to give a new impetus to the management of its projects in order to gain control and efficiency. “We had a manual allocation system that depended entirely on the personal feelings of each technician. At the end of the day, each professional wrote down the time that, according to their subjective estimation, they had spent on each project,” recalls Ignacio Frías, its Financial Director and coordinator of Site Management. A “not very reliable” system that resulted in striking imbalances, depending on who carried out the assessment. “There were projects with many hours counted and others in which it seemed that hardly any work was done. And these measurements varied greatly from one consultant to another. We knew that these records were unrealistic,” he says.
The change came with WorkMeter. “We were asked to develop a tool that would automatically allocate working hours to each project,” says Frías. The solution not only brought rigour and objectivity to the counting of hours, but also solved two other problems. On the one hand, it freed the company’s professionals from having to ‘steal’ time from their main tasks to record the hours they had spent on each job. On the other hand, it allowed the company to comply with the legal obligation to record the working hours of its employees.
The solution was a good fit, although it took a process to implement. To begin with, a code was assigned to each of the different document types generated by the company. It is these codes that allow the programme to automatically calculate the imputed times. The start, however, was laborious because the company had installed another platform with other functionalities, and inevitably there were overlaps and mismatches during the transition time between systems.
There was also some reluctance among the staff. “Change always arouses some misgivings, that’s normal. In our case, there were people who didn’t give it any importance and welcomed it naturally, and others who didn’t like it because they had the feeling that the company was controlling them. But as soon as the system was fully operational and they realised how it helped them to self-evaluate their own work, their assessment was positive,” Frías recalls.
The adaptability of the solution is one of the aspects that Morph Estudio values most.
“It is a very open and flexible tool, on which improvements can be constantly worked on thanks to WorkMeter’s great parameterisation and development work. If we want a change and it is technically feasible, they implement it very quickly. Right now, the platform is above 80% in terms of meeting our needs,” he says.
Morph Estudio’s ad-hoc solution is a combination of two of WorkMeter’s tools: EffiWork and WorkProject. For Joan Pons, CEO of WorkMeter, the most difficult part of the project was precisely this customisation work to adapt the solution to the client’s specific needs. “There was a process of getting to know each other and also of evangelising the benefits of automatic reporting. Both parties had to exercise patience and mutual trust”. The result of this joint work is the configuration that today allows the architecture firm “to have a high degree of precision in the automatic measurement of projects and to enjoy the advantages of a culture of metrics and flexible work”, concludes Pons.
The implementation of these reporting systems has not only met Morph Estudio’s expectations, but has also brought some unexpected pleasant surprises. “Thanks to the solution, we have an exact control of the use that our collaborators make of the company’s different computer programmes, a very valuable piece of information that helps us to accurately size our investments in software,” says Ignacio Frías. Another additional benefit has come with confinement and the obligation to telework. “The measurement systems have allowed our people to continue working from home and to do so safely. For example, thanks to the alert systems, which warn workers when they have already exceeded a certain number of working hours, thus facilitating the necessary digital disconnection of employees.”
As points for improvement, Frías says that it would be very positive “to integrate the project management system with the costs, in order to have this total assessment in real time and thus become a CRM for the economic control of projects”. The final assessment of the service? “Very positive,” he says. “Because it offers precise information, both to the company and to the worker, on working time and productivity, it provides very useful metrics for sizing projects or resources, and reduces time allocation costs by around 80%”.