Based in San Francisco and New York, BCV Architecture + Interiors (BCV) is an award-winning, boutique design firm that specializes in creating social spaces—such as restaurants, hotels, wineries, and residences—where interaction is paramount. The firm has a strong presence in Lake Tahoe as well as Southern California, where they are currently working on the Hollywood Park Town Center, a 600,000-square-foot mixed-used retail and entertainment development adjacent to the new football stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
Colin Alley—associate principal and director of operations—joined BCV in 1999 as a junior project manager. With a master’s degree in architecture, Alley handles design work and serves as the ombudsman between the project managers and controller, weaving together project demands and staff availability to optimize his team’s scheduling.
Before finding Mosaic, Alley and his team were using their professional services automation (PSA) software’s planning module. However, according to Alley, "it was a nightmare. From an architect’s point of view, at least, it’s completely unintuitive and just very obtuse in how you put information in and get information out." In fact, no matter what Alley tried, he always felt like he was doing something wrong because he couldn’t extract the information he wanted. Eventually, everyone gave up on using it, which left their controller in a bad situation. "The interface was just inefficient and ineffective for us," Alley said. So, they turned to Excel, which wasn’t much better. "I was literally using colored bars across like months of study," Alley said. "It was cobbling together, to be honest."
Then, Alley came across Mosaic. It did exactly what BCV wished their prior software did. According to Alley, he was eager to be an early adopter of Mosaic, because it meant a level of "authorship and input on what the system could do going forward." But, really, it was Mosaic’s integration with the BCV team’s existing PSA software that sealed the deal: "If it didn't have that integration," Alley said. "I would be like, OK, this is nice, but should we really pay for something that doesn't tie into our system that shows everything else? So, that integration is a really good thing."
During Mosaic’s free 30-day trial, Alley set up a number of his projects in Mosaic "for real" to get his bearings. His goal was to have one "fully baked project" in the application for every project manager by the time the trial period ended. That way, he could visualize everything: "Here's the people. Here's the time commitment. Here's what that would cost. Here's what the contract was." Then, he had everyone on his team review Mosaic to get an understanding of how it worked. Once he had buy-in, he ran with it, continuing to flesh out his projects and forecasting. Whenever Alley had a question, he worked closely with Mosaic’s technical support team for a solution.
As for the BCV team, they were pleased with the software, finding it much more intuitive than anything they had used before. Overall, they loved the visual presentation of the information on the screen when Alley would show them things, "and then we can drill in and see specific hours and people if we need to." This has helped BCV "break down the barriers of communication internally," so everyone has a clear idea of who is doing what. Now, it’s much easier to determine who has the bandwidth to help where.
According to Alley, Mosaic’s greatest value—beyond its intuitive and user-friendly interface—lies in its ability to forecast: "Here we are at the end of July," he said. "And I’m trying to know what our staff is doing in October. Are we running off a cliff and nobody’s doing anything, or are we going to have so much work that we need to hire new people? Mosaic answers those questions," so that BCV is able "to weave the expectations of our clients with our ability to deliver." Alley also uses Mosaic to predict the optimal time for a project to begin: For example, Alley might ask, "Hey, could we go back to this potential client and ask to start the project three weeks later because we’d have the perfect team—and we could hit the ground running and be really efficient?"
Mosaic is integral to the BCV team’s operations, helping them forecast everything from financials to business focus. Based on what he learns from the application, Alley is able to better direct his team. For example, he might encourage them to "come up with some marketing things" or other "non-durable work" that points the company toward future success. Or, he might say, "boy, we better put some ads up to start recruiting because it looks like we're going to be swamped with work in November." If that’s the case, he can also drill down to identify the type of "people they need to find based on what that work is going to be."
According to Alley, Mosaic is even tied into some of their business development. Because different project types—e.g., houses, restaurants, and retail—are all color-coded differently in Mosaic, the BCV team can at-a-glance get a sense for the types of projects they’re landing at the moment. "It becomes almost this intuitive read of what's our balance—and what does that mean over time," he said. This "reading of the tea leaves" also helps BCV identify market trends and adapt accordingly. "For example, if we’re seeing that customer residential has more legs than retail or restaurant over the next two years, then we can hire someone with more custom residential experience." Because Mosaic "is helping us visualize how things are evolving and changing," BCV can easily see these insights.
For Alley and the BCV team, Mosaic enables their "strategy, business operations, and conversations across all levels of the office." It’s an ideal solution for any project-based firm that wants easily digestible data to help inform their business decisions.