Founded in 1981, Wallace Design Collective is home to more than 170 structural engineers, civil engineers, landscape architects, and surveyors who have completed well over $100 billion in construction nationwide. In 2020, the collective was named 50th Top Engineering Firm in the nation as well as the Top Engineering and EA Firms by Giants 400 Top Engineering Firms as compiled by Building Design & Construction.
Gene Phillips—a partner at Wallace—started as a structural engineer 30 years ago. He serves as a visionary for the civil side of the company, pushing them into new markets, while ensuring that they have the resources to do so. According to Phillips, "Every day is a new challenge. Every project is different."
Wallace’s biggest challenge has been its growth and expansion. "We would hire 20 more engineers today if we could find them," Phillips said. But managing and coordinating that many people is a challenge. Before Mosaic, Phillips managed his team using Google Calendars. "We would list everyone’s basic, high-level things they’d be working on for each respective day, along with how many hours we expected them to spend on each." According to Phillips, they would meet with all the project managers to "shuffle the deck and make sure we have everyone allocated to projects—and their days full." While this process worked pretty well when their team was only 20 people, by the time they were nearing 50 employees across multiple offices with shared work across several different principals, things got complicated—and expensive. "Our manpower meeting was beginning to get longer and longer." And having so many "highly compensated individuals sitting around the table for an hour or two each week" making sure everyone is working on the right thing is "quite an investment."
According to Phillips, the Wallace team "is pretty unique in that we’re a well-matched group. Everyone works well together, respects each other, and is really pretty willing to do whatever it takes to help keep everyone successful. That’s gotten us quite a bit further down the road than we would have gone otherwise. But even that gets challenged when you’re not able to quickly communicate to know who’s available and who has the skills available to help solve the problem." Ultimately, Phillips knew that if the company was going to grow like they envisioned, they needed another solution—and that’s where Mosaic came in.
"The thing we liked most about Mosaic from the beginning was that it was an architecture-focused program—and the team was solving a problem for that world." In other words, it was tailored specifically to meet Wallace’s needs, and it did so "elegantly." According to Phillips, Mosaic was also at an appealing point in its development: It had enough of a track record to give Phillips confidence that it would be successful, but it was still early enough that customers like Wallace would have the opportunity to help shape its future. Without having adopted Mosaic, Phillips "would be less optimistic that his team could cross-pollinate and share resources among all their offices and groups."
Fortunately, the process of getting buy-in from his team—and pulling the trigger on Mosaic—was "a pretty easy, effortless thing." And the reception to Mosaic has been great: "Everyone wants to use it, and everyone intends to." Plus, the Mosaic team has "made themselves completely available any time we need them," Phillips said. That has been particularly helpful because the Wallace team has incrementally onboarded the product to accommodate busy schedules and heavy workloads. "I’ve been picking people off individually and working them through things, bringing them onboard one or two at a time versus larger groups," he said. Another helpful feature for the Wallace team has been the videos that Mosaic has released to introduce new tools.
Phillips fully expects Mosaic to significantly improve the way his team works on a large scale over the next few years. In fact, he compared the impact of its adoption to the transition from working in 2D modeling to 3D. At the moment, though, the biggest benefit for him is being able to quickly see different work groups—"how busy they are or how we might share resources and so forth," he said. "So, my team and I can look at the Kansas City office or the Tulsa office or Oklahoma office. Or we can look at another partner’s groups or the survey group."
Ultimately, Phillips said his experience working with Mosaic has "been really, really, really good." In fact, he rates it at the top of his experience with any software partners. "Anytime we’ve needed assistance, we’ve had that almost instantly," he said. "There have been consistent check-ins to see how we're doing, answer questions, and introduce new features." Plus, Mosaic has been extremely responsive to Wallace's requests. "I know they’re getting comments from other customers, but we've brought up things that were important to us, and in a short period of time, they show up," he said. "Those kinds of experiences really make you feel like, boy, if everyone could do their business that well, we’d all be happier."
According to Phillips, Mosaic is "sophisticated," but "surprisingly intuitive," and he would absolutely recommend it to other architecture and engineering firms. "It’s an easy program to pick up and start using," he said, wherever you are. "Don’t feel like for it to work you have to check every box and fill in every variable," he advises. "You just simply don’t. Use it to whatever level serves you best, and you’re going to find that you want to use it at a deeper level."
At Wallace, "communication is key. A large part of what we do is getting the right person on the right job at the right time—and communicating that can be difficult. Mosaic is the tool that our group is using to solve that problem."