LEES + Associates
Mosaic Helps Lees + Associates Build Better Teams to Boost Bottom Line
LEES + Associates
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LEES + Associates is an architecture and planning firm—with offices across Canada—that specializes in cemeteries and memorials as well as parks, trails, and recreation spaces. While most of their work is for municipal clients, the 20-person firm also does more traditional private development and landscape architecture. According to Megan Turnock—a principal whose focus is on citywide public space planning—LEES + Associates has been in business for more than 20 years.
Founded by Erik and Kathi Lees, the company is now headed by three senior landscape architects. Typical projects for the firm range from small design projects that might take three to four months to complete to planning projects that run for a year to 18 months. According to Turnock, there are also projects that evolve over time, starting small and adding on, so it’s difficult to even pinpoint when the work truly started or stopped.
Before adopting Mosaic, LEES + Associates felt a pressure to answer all the municipal request for proposals (RFP) they came across—without really knowing whether they had the internal resources to complete the work should they win the job. According to Turnock, the firm’s “attitude was one of: well, if we get it, we’ll figure it out.” And they did; but it wasn’t without a fair bit of stress. “It’s great to win work,” Turnock said. “And we want to be able to go after things and be excited about them and have the resources to do [the jobs] well.” It was that desire that led the firm to Mosaic.
“We had tried different strategies to forecast availability and workload to ensure we weren’t burning people out or under utilizing them,” Turnock said. Specifically, LEES + associates tried using spreadsheets and having their team email their work plan for the upcoming week. “Project managers sort of kept it all in their heads,” she said. But that didn’t give the team what they needed when it came to looking ahead, especially as projects were scheduled to conclude and new ones were set to begin. “That makes it quite hard when you’re trying to evaluate whether or not to go after a specific proposal,” Turnock said.
Ultimately, LEES + Associates adopted Mosaic in order to improve their resource allocation capabilities—and they chose Mosaic over its competitors on the market because of its “intuitive, easy-to-use interface and clear steps to team-wide implementation,” Turnock said. The LEES team also appreciated the real-time link between their time-sheets and project budget: “Being able to track our work in real-time for our project managers—as well as our principals and owners–has been huge,” she said. The fact that Mosaic’s time-sheet and project tracking features are easier to use than what the LEES team was using before has made adopting the application easy. “Our admin team loves it, '' she said. “And it’s really helped our resource management, because we’ve put all of our long-term projects in,” she said. “Our schedules change, but at least you can get a snapshot of what’s going on at any given time.”
For Turnock specifically, a few of Mosaic’s reporting features stood out: “Being able to see our workload actually populated with color-coded percentages and people’s time in there over the next two or three months hit home with me,” she said. “Then, seeing a project budget and the spent-planned-remaining bars and the burn rate chart—it was like, ‘yes, I want that,’” she said.
LEES + Associates is intentionally starting slow with Mosaic, but are looking forward to expanding their use to better inform their decisions about what work to pursue—and when. “The platform has functionality that we haven’t used yet, and I think that’s okay,” she said. “We’ve started with the things that were the highest priority for us and we’ll add on from there.” For LEES + Associates, that’s the timesheets, project widgets, and the work plans.
“I certainly think everyone appreciates being able to see their own workload forecasted,” Tunock said. “Plus, we’re so much more transparent—and deliberate—when it comes to how much people are taking on.” The firm has also noticed an improvement in their ability to put together teams that positively impact their bottom line. “One of the things we wanted to be able to see is when it makes sense to hire another person—which has a huge impact on our bottom line,” she said. “You can add another person to the team, deliver more work, and that’s obviously a benefit,” but, at the same time, you want to be sure you have enough work to support everyone.
According to Turnock, Mosaic was definitely worth the investment for LEES + Associates: “In terms of efficiency and our comfort level with decision-making, it’s definitely been worth the cost,” she said. “We all need to be better prepared going forward and Mosaic is a tool that can help you do that—it can help you make better, data-driven decisions, which is where I want to be, not making emotional decisions or fear-based ones.”