The East Midlands Property Alliance – a regional framework where contracts are delivered by Wates, Morgan Sindall, Interserve and others – has commissioned an online software system that gives both it and its public sector clients improved transparency on project performance.
The Firefly system allows tracking of around 15 different performance indicators, including programme, local spend and training opportunities.
EMPA is part of the Scape organisation, which runs a variety of frameworks on behalf of public sector clients. EMPA says it has invested £30,000-£40,000 in the software system, and has been using it for around three months.
The Firefly system currently has data on around 400 different projects, in different value bands, EMPA head Alan Coole told BIM+. “We can pull out reports from it, or clients can go and look at it themselves, and see information updated weekly or fortnightly,” he said.
“A lot of the bigger clients have lots of different departments and don’t understand overall how much work is going through the framework, so it helps them see what their programme is, without having to go to lots of different sources of information.”
Most of the data is input by the main contractors, but Coole explains that there was little cross-over between data gathered for BIM and for Firefly.
The contractors are compiling data on time predictability, delivery predictability, defects, health and safety, client satisfaction, value for money, quality of (the contractor’s) service, whole-life performance, fair payment, waste diverted from landfill.
Critics of frameworks have complained in the past that there is a lack of robust data that would allow comparisons between framework projects and those procured traditionally, but the system facilitates better comparisons, Coole says.
“Our clients have bought into frameworks because they want [improved performance] on all these things, and when the framework comes up for renewals, these scores will be critical,” Coole said, adding that the revised EU procurement rules allow clients to take previous performance into account, rather than taking a “blank sheet” approach.
The intention is to roll out the system to all other Scape frameworks in the next 12-18 months, and Coole says that other framework operators are also looking into adopting the system, a move that could potentially allow inter-framework comparisons in the future.
The cloud-based project management tool for multiple partner projects was developed by Firefly Online, a Grantham-based company set up by ex-local authority employee Richard Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe highlighted what the system can achieve. “Singling out just one of the projects on the Firefly dashboard it features the EMPA team, 13 schools, the construction contractor and the client, a Midlands-based local authority. Our software allows all parties to filter the information that’s relevant to them in real time so they can see exactly how their projects are performing.”
He added: “My aim was to make it easier for local authority projects, and projects funded by the taxpayer, to be managed easily and efficiently. The feedback from their teams has allowed me to refine the system so we’re in a position to offer the service further afield to support more public sector construction and social care projects, especially at a time where funding for public services is incredibly tight.”
EMPA covers city and county areas in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and in Peterborough, Solihull, Coventry and Staffordshire Moorlands.
The framework’s list of contractors, delivering projects across the east Midlands, includes G F Tomlinson, Ashe Construction, Morgan Sindall, Wates, Lindum, Interserve, Clegg Construction, Robert Woodhead and Jeakins Weir.
Our software allows all parties to filter the information that’s relevant to them in real time so they can see exactly how their projects are performing– Richard Ratcliffe, Firefly Online