As part of the Swedish-owned construction giant, Skanska UK has an impressive pedigree in delivering, servicing and maintaining a comprehensive range of private and public sector projects throughout the country.
It has become a UK leader in Private Finance Initiative (PFI) / Public Private Partnership (PPP) schemes in healthcare, education, defence, transportation and even street lighting, extending its range of services from construction to facilities management and project finance. Skanska UK has been particularly recognised for its achievements in sustainable development and green business practices. With offices across the country, the company undertakes £1.3 billion worth of work annually and employs more than 4,600 staff.
In 2010, following a period of expansion and the awarding of a number of new projects, Skanska decided to adopt a more centralised approach to the delivery and management of facilities management (FM) services across its British operating units.
It had already deployed MRI’s market-leading Concept 500™ computer aided facilities management (CAFM) platform in some individual contracts, but the catalyst for a more strategic approach was a deal to provide FM and maintenance services at Walsall Manor Hospital alongside the construction of a new wing.
With new contracts often implemented to tight timescales – two or three weeks from agreement to mobilisation is not rare – there was a clear opportunity to choose a centralised CAFM platform that could operate multiple databases, provide web-enabled access for engineers and clients, and generate first-rate reports, allowing the business to benchmark service delivery across all its contracts.
It was also a chance for Skanska’s facilities services division to develop its profile within the organisation and use CAFM as a lever for winning new business. MRI Evolution was the platform of choice.
“It was by far the market leader among web-based platforms and had a proven ability to operate in a multi-database environment,” says Austin Denton, Senior Implementation Manager for Skanska’s Facilities Services division.
“We began scoping in January 2010 and quickly saw the direction we could take. Historically, each site was run as a silo. Effectively, we were looking for a management information system that would help us benchmark and report across the business.
“We wanted to build a centralised help desk and design an asset register model that could be replicated in new contracts or serve as a prototype for clients contracting services out to us but managing their own system procurement – so we can help them to set it up. And we wanted a system that we could recommend as a platform of choice whenever we bid for a new contract.”
Other factors in MRI Evolution’s favour were the ease with which new modules can be bolted on, enabling Skanska to become a more technology-efficient organisation, and its capabilities as an information hub, integrated with other key applications. It also reflected Skanska’s long-term goal to move to a mobile and paperless environment.
The system was first implemented for Walsall Manor Hospital in May 2010, with a 16,000-strong asset register and 4,000 planned preventative maintenance (PPM) tasks. It has served in turn as a template for databases servicing contracts with Essex Schools and Bristol Schools.
It has also been implemented by clients at – Mansfield Community Hospital, Kings Mill Hospital, Newark Hospital with an implementation currently undergoing at the Royal Derby Hospital – all sites where Skanska manages hard FM service delivery. To date, seven client databases have been created.
The main challenge for the facilities services team was asset data capture. Adopting a standard practice and language was crucial, so it was important for the team to be able to take MRI’s templates and encourage a shared approach to learning and understanding about assets across the business.
“As a business, we were some way behind in terms of having a centralised reporting capability,” explains Bob Philbrook, Head of Support Services, Skanska’s facilities services division.
“It was a question of really understanding the contracts, writing service level agreements and converting them to MRI Evolution’s database environment. Technically, that’s a lot easier to achieve with the MRI Evolution engine and the expertise MRI Software brings to the table.
“Practically, it means you have to convince people to move their old procedures onto a more robust, centralised system – and that is a culture change for everyone. Some of our engineers have been in the business for 40 years. They’re used to coming in and getting a piece of paper, or calling into the office to find out about a job. Now, they’re alerted by a vibration or a bleep on their PDA.”
However, the database only has to be populated once, another important factor in MRI Evolution’s favour. And with a comprehensive user testing environment and automated software updates, the traditional burdens of system implementation were kept well in check.
MRI’s consultative approach has also helped Skanska to address specific challenges associated with individual contracts. For example, by bringing the Room Booking module into MRI Evolution Reach – the portal for clients who do not need access to the core system – the facilities services team have been effective partners in implementing Skanska’s recent schools projects.
“It is essential to involve clients in the scoping and development of the CAFM implementation, and to get their buy-in up front,” says Austin.
“In many ways, scoping is the most important phase of the project. You need to get it right but also be prepared for change, because you are moving from a non-technical to a technical solution – and you’re actually making decisions on behalf of the engineers who will be using the system.”
According to Bob Philbrook, MRI Evolution has quickly proved itself as an important part of Skanska’s move to a more centralised service delivery and management model. Its 3-D modelling tools give the engineers a complete picture of any task, and as an asset register it gives the business powerful, real-time insight into service performance and asset maintenance.
“Implementing MRI Evolution has been a step change in the way we manage the business,” says Bob. “It has given us internal credibility and this has helped raise the profile of the facilities services division within Skanska.”
By investing in a brand leader for its CAFM platform, Skanska has also boosted its credibility with existing and prospective clients. As tenders and bidding processes become more complex and difficult to price – particularly in the public sector – they require a smarter and more flexible approach from service providers. MRI Evolution helps Skanska to model leaner bids by applying more technological and responsive working methods to contractual requirements.
From a management perspective, it is also delivering important benefits – not least on the reporting front: it gives Skanska’s senior executives a comprehensive image of performance across all its contracts.
“When we first saw the Digital Dashboard, it was a revelation,” says Austin. “Up until now, the way contract performance was reported has been a perception rather than tangible. MRI Evolution gives us the capability to benchmark across the business, using real-time data – hourly, weekly, monthly, whenever we want it – and takes a snapshot of our performance.”
While implementation at the coalface entailed considerable negotiation with the engineers – and their unions – the ultimate benefits to the system’s users have also been appreciated. Time spent on job administration has been significantly reduced as paper-based form-filling and sign-off has been replaced by MRI Evolution’s on-screen tools.
“With Evolution, MRI has really developed the standard for the FM help desk – and that’s worth its weight in gold. We have monthly meetings with our account manager and regular show-and-tell sessions about new developments. So we’re able to raise any issues and get a quick response.”
“MRI Evolution provides a much simpler, more efficient way of transacting,” says Bob. “It’s more satisfying for the engineers: they don’t have to go back to the office between jobs, so travel time is reduced. And if a reactive task comes in, it can be managed with the same time and effort as a PPM. Also, for lone workers on site, it’s a more personal way for us to keep in touch with them and actually provides a higher level of interaction.”
Clients also have greater visibility of a nine-step job progress, from the engineer’s arrival time, to the status of the job and the arrival of parts, to completion.
“They can have real-time updates; they aren’t waiting for the paper trail any more,” says Bob. “The client can see response times and have a level of rigour that nobody’s putting false times or bucking the system!”
Learn more about MRI Evolution.