The implementation of Asta Vision is part of the company’s ‘Digital by Desire’ programme, an initiative designed to encourage staff at every level to embrace the opportunities of digital technology. As part of a broad business review completed in 2019, the Building Division identified that its planning function would benefit in adopting new and more consistent ways of working. Steven Tideswell, Head of Business Excellence explained:
“Having reached the stage where much of our project management architecture had been refreshed and matured, we realised that significant change was needed in the planning team’s technology and tools, as well as what they could do with data, insights, and reporting. We are committed Asta Powerproject users and quickly realised that Asta Vision could be an effective solution to our challenges.”
The Building Division had three goals in mind. First, better standardisation and integration of its Design, Procure, Construct programmes. Second, enhanced reporting that would eliminate the use of Excel spreadsheets for the purpose. Third, improved progress updates from sites. All of these are in the process of being achieved with the aid of Asta Vision.
Creating a consistent client experience
Building Division teams around the country used to approach their programmes slightly differently and wanted to adopt a more consistent approach so that staff would instantly recognise and be able to navigate a ‘VINCI programme’. Steven believes that this has been achieved:
“Because we have now standardised our programming template in Asta Vision all our programmes now have a consistent look and feel. They are not only based on the same planning methodology, but the same data is in the same place on every programme, and we use the same colour codes. Our clients simply see us delivering the same level of service in the same format across the whole of our business.”
Enhancing planning process
The Building Division has used Asta Powerproject to make the planning methodology easier for its planners, who were already users of the software. Asta Vision enforces the use of a standard template, which prevents divergent approaches emerging over time. With this template, the Building Division now utilises task pools to standardise the activities that planners incorporate and set the level of detail required.
“This will make life much easier for our planners. We have pre-coded, pre-costed and pre-resourced activities, and that frees their time up to use their knowledge and skill to optimise programmes instead of build them” Steven said. He continued: “Asta Vision has also helped us to standardise our workflows by controlling our planning governance. It can help set which planning activities happen at what stage, establish quality criteria, what authorisation gateways they must go through, and what peer review or project manager signoff is required.”
Unlocking data intelligence
Asta Vision enables the Building Division to benchmark and maintain standards across every project and connect its project and programme planning data to the rest of its business information.
“We can now hook Asta Vision up to our Power BI business intelligence platform and gain real time data about our programmes when we need it. We have already achieved this in other areas of the business and found it hugely valuable, especially during the pandemic. We want to get our programming data into the BI platform as fast as possible, because it will enable us to disperse it to all levels of management and enable anyone to bring the live data up remotely.”
Enabling progress reporting
Even before the business review, the Building Division had already recognised that its progress reporting approach could be improved. When Elecosoft introduced the Asta SiteProgress app to enable direct programme progress updates and reporting from sites, they knew it would form part of the solution but were not sure if they could use it effectively without some other changes. Steven told us: “We realised that we had to first improve how we were storing and managing programmes, standardising the structure of them so that we could apply progress in a more consistent way. Now that we have Asta Vision we have a single way of reporting and could now equip all planners on site with Asta SiteProgress so they can apply progressing more effectively.”
Supporting continuity in a crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of continuity and flexibility of working, as people worked from home more often, were furloughed, or redeployed to fill in for absent colleagues. Steven sees Asta Vision as a strong aid to programme continuity both in turbulent times and normal ones, because planners could leave, go on holiday or be absent at any time.
“Historically our planners worked on Asta Powerproject files on their laptops and didn’t always copy changed files back to the server. Filing was inconsistent so, when files were suddenly needed from someone no longer there, it meant searching around, navigating oddly named folders and files and struggling to understand the status. Now we know exactly where the programme is: on the Asta Vision cloud. We have a standardised format, with all the associated notes and logic. It is easy for a colleague to pick up, understand, see what is outstanding, and we lose none of the data or the effort that has already been put into it.”
Protecting the future
Steven shared his aspirations for the continuing rollout.
“Going forward, all our programmes will be created and managed in Asta Vision. There are three things we want and believe will happen. We will be able to simplify and automate reporting, which is currently a huge administrative exercise for the planning department, increasing our efficiency while creating better insight into our data. Reducing our business continuity risk by working more collaboratively and without loss of data also means we will be better protected against any future claims, because we are able to quickly find the programme and what was happening at the time. Last, with a standardised approach to planning and programming across the business we will be able to create a better, more professional and more consistent experience for all our customers.”