How PLY+ Replaced Manual Spreadsheets with Monograph

PLY+ replaced tedious manual spreadsheets with Monograph easy-to-use software to improve time management and transparency across their team of 9.

Replaced manual spreadsheets with Monograph
Improved time management and transparency across firm
Managing 18+ projects in various phases

PLY+ is a design research firm that has been operating in its current iteration since restructuring in 2016. First created by Craig Borum in 1999 under the name PLY and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the firm takes an open-ended design research approach to projects.

PLY+ specializes in leveraging architecture to help organizations find a sense of identity within physical space, while simultaneously exploring their own interest in new materials and technologies.

PLY+ Team Members
PLY+ Team Members

With a long history of awards and recognition, from the 2021 Emerging Voices Award from The Architectural League of New York to a Best of Design Award from The Architect’s Newspaper, as well as 11 AIA Honor Awards (among a host of others), the firm is no stranger to success.

Since its inception, the company has been regularly acknowledged for their innovation, experimentation, and quality of experience related to finished projects.

Finding a Flexible Software to Replace Spreadsheets

With a hard-working team of 9, PLY+ has seen increases in the number of projects over the last several years, demanding a new way to track, manage, and provide further transparency during the simultaneous phasing of multiple projects.

The firm began seeking a way to be more flexible during the process of bringing a design to life while also retaining a structure conducive to forward momentum.

“We were trying to get a better handle on understanding organization at all levels of the firm, as well as figuring out ways for the practice to evolve outside of the archaic structures such as timesheets.”

—Andrew Wolking, Associate

The tedious effort required of maintaining templates of spreadsheets and timesheets through Excel and Google Docs necessitated manual setup of the week and month, and regular maintenance throughout.

PLY + Michigan Animal Rescue League (Photo Credit: Jason Keen)
PLY + Michigan Animal Rescue League (Photo Credit: Jason Keen)

With nearly 18 projects in various stages of phasing at any given time, PLY+ needed a solution to the substantial upkeep required for regular tracking and team coordination.

No Learning Curve with Monograph

Remembering an introduction that Monograph CEO Robert Yuen provided for the platform in 2018, Principal Craig Borum contacted the company during the pandemic to see what the software could offer.

Borum initially purchased Monograph because of its ease of use.

“The biggest things for us were flexibility and ease of use. The interface provides a highly visual, easy-to-use experience, and that's what caught our attention initially.”

—Craig Borum, Principal

Other team members found that other project management software for the architecture and design industry tend to be very complicated and hard to use. But PLY+ team was able to jump in Monograph with no learning curve.

Monograph’s substantive practice operations platform provided utility where it was needed most, without unnecessary confusion. 

Efficient Remote Work with Resource

The implementation of the software in December of 2020 helped to address the firm's needs related to allocating work remotely while maximizing organizational efficiency.

PLY+ House P (Photo Credit: Jason Keen)
PLY+ House P (Photo Credit: Jason Keen)

For a smaller sized firm, the intelligent assignment of tasks, responsibilities and resources is essential to proper completion of projects within a given timeframe with specific budgets.

“It’s nice to be able to use the MoneyGantt to visually see where we should be and where we’re at while using Resource to plan our week.”

—Andrew Wolking, Associate

Combining 2 of Monograph’s most popular features, Resource and MoneyGantt, allowed the team to streamline their weekly Monday meetings, reviewing each project to get insight into where their schedule and fees are, and how best to tackle the multitude of tasks for the week.

Enhanced Time Management and Transparency

At Monograph, we believe in building a transparent culture. By providing a clear view of the week using Resource, it allows team members to take control of their own time and know exactly what they need to do each week.

“I would say that time management is probably the most powerful example of how Monograph changed our firm. We’re much more transparent now across all levels. Everyone can see and access data that goes into Monograph, and everyone is able to be more proactive with their time because we’ve already had that Monday morning kick-off call.” 

—Andrew Wolking, Associate

With a unique approach to architecture and design, PLY+ needed a flexible and user-friendly application that allowed for enhanced tracking and task assignment to aid in their day-to-day operations.

Monograph allows firms to fine tune their work flow, handling all aspects of project management, from task assignment to enhanced tracking and invoicing throughout.

If you want to improve your team’s time management, get started with Monograph today!

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