Striking the Right Balance between Data and Culture
We spoke with Lesley Bull, Head of People, Culture &
Change for Ethos Urban.

"We wanted transparency around information so that individuals could be empowered to make decisions and self-manage."

The Brief

Ethos Urban was created as a result of merging four businesses located across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Combined they are an urban development consultancy providing services across social strategy, design, economics, engagement, project management and planning.


Some of their recent projects include the MYAC Ecotourism Development, the substantial South Eveleigh commercial mixed use development, and Merrimu green field housing.


Ethos Urban were early adopters of the Synergy cloud solution, having deployed the platform around three years ago, and when we first met they were already using Power BI. However, their existing solution had relied on multiple Excel exports and a lot of manual data manipulation in order to present the data in their Power BI reports. 


Our brief was to develop a fully automated solution that could integrate multiple applications, with Synergy at the core, to create a single source of truth for business data and deploy the right information to relevant teams. Alongside Synergy we needed to integrate their CRM, HR, and finance applications.


In a consulting capacity we engaged with people at all levels of the organisation to understand what information was used by the business, how teams worked with the information to manage performance, and to determine KPIs that the business should focus on together. With a strong culture of people working across teams without rigid hierarchies, it was critical that this culture remained intact.


"The way you engaged with all the pieces of the business to understand their needs, the problems they were trying to solve and ultimately defining the purpose of what was being incorporated into the solution was really important. To do something like this you want to make sure that the teams have what they really need."

The Delivery

In parallel with the initial consulting engagement, we explored the APIs available from each application and built rapid prototypes to solve key challenges. For example, they had been unable to easily see a single view of sales pipeline as information was stored both in CRM and Synergy, and the ability to slice-and-dice revenue and productivity information was limited.


During this exploration phase it became clear that the existing Synergy API could not provide the capability needed to deliver the fully automated solution that the Ethos Urban team were looking for. We worked in tandem with Total Synergy to map an enhancement of the existing API to create an effective method for connecting it with Power BI. Our resulting solution enabled near real-time dashboards, reports and analytics combing data from the company's full suite of business applications.


The outcome of the consulting engagement gave us a clear steer on the information needed by each team across the business. We developed Apps for the Leadership team, as well as for Sales, Delivery and People teams, and an App called My Dashboard that was deployed to employees at all levels. My Dashboard provided key metrics for each individual as well as a summary of sales opportunities, projects and data quality issues filtered using row-level security.


During this development phase we sought input and feedback from teams across each region. It was critical that we developed a solution that met everybody's needs if it was to be adopted by the organisation as a whole.

"I wish we'd implemented a simple version of this sooner. For any organisation that has plans to grow, putting in a solution like this early on would reap massive benefits."

The Result

"The degree of engagement with our data across the business has increased significantly, and we can only see that this will continue."


Our work with Ethos Urban remains an iterative development. As business strategy and ways of working evolve, and engagement continues to build, the Power BI solution needs to adapt with it. With our Enterprise support agreement, we are able to incorporate changes as and when required.


Creating an integrated Power BI solution allows Ethos Urban to answer the sorts of questions that require a combination of people, project, sales, and finance information. Power BI patches them together and provides the ability to easily dissect this information to answer those questions.


Deploying Power BI with Ethos Urban prompted us to create our Power BI for Synergy solution and provided us with solid learnings about deployment and change management. Implementing the level of transparency that Power BI brings can be a big change for an organisation. It takes some time for it to become business-as-usual.  Our approach supports the introduction of the solution over time.

What’s Next?


In addition to the ongoing evolution of their core Power BI solution we have worked with Ethos Urban to develop new dashboards to support their updated people strategy and additional Xero-based reports to help provide greater visibility over their cost management. Next step is to further enhance their sales analytics.


"What we love about the team at S2R Analytics is not only their sense of humour, but they often know what I’m thinking before I’ve had to articulate it."