Capita Symonds prides itself on adding value to every project, a philosophy that underpins its position as one of the UK’s largest multifaceted property and infrastructure consultancies.
Working both nationally and internationally, a key Capita Symonds specialism is property management on behalf of both local authority and commercial clients. This includes procuring and managing contractors to ensure that properties are fully compliant with all relevant statutory obligations and best practice requirements.
It is in this specialist field that collaboration with Info Exchange has led to what Capita Symonds’ compliance manager Ken Bendle describes as “a change of culture”.
It’s a complex area of work, with around 90 key aspects of compliance potentially requiring regular maintenance and periodic inspections at specified and varying intervals. Each client will have its own requirements drawn from aspects on that list, which might include asbestos management, emergency lighting, fire alarms, fixed wire testing, gas and legionella monitoring.
As the process of managing contractors’ work programmes through spreadsheet-based systems grew in complexity, Capita Symonds recognised that a new and more streamlined approach was necessary to prevent any exposure to non-compliance by itself or its clients.
In April 2010, that led to Capita Symonds starting the process of introducing computerised systems to manage compliance requirements and the resulting programme of inspections.
Ken explains: “Initially we trawled the market and looked at three or four providers but John Kost, a Capita Symonds colleague working in safety, health and environmental assessments, was already using Info Exchange and recommended it as a really good system”.
A presentation on Info Exchange to a user group working on the project confirmed its ability to deliver in terms of price, quality, flexibility and ease of use and the system went live in January 2011.
Ken says: “It has been quite a success story to the extent that it has changed our culture in the way we manage contractors. In real time, we now have a statement on compliance for each property, giving us a framework to challenge the performance of contractors”.
The web-based system has proved so effective that Southampton City Council, with which Capita Symonds works in a strategic partnership on statutory compliance, has also introduced Info Exchange for compliance work on certain properties that it continues to manage in-house, providing complete integration across its property portfolio.
Ken says the new system is acting as a driver for contractors to modernise working practices, for example by emailing PDFs of reports for direct entry into Info Exchange rather than sending in paperwork. Over time, procurement requirements will include contractors directly submitting information via hand-held computers.
As for the future, Ken sees enormous potential extending Info Exchange’s workflow capabilities to offer risk management services, something in which clients have already been expressing an interest. He says: “With Info Exchange, the world’s our oyster”.