Established in 1994, Integrated Building Management Systems (IBMS) is a renowned industry leader in the United Kingdom. IBMS conducts all of its operations exclusively within the UK and caters to various sectors including retail, education, commercial, distribution, domestic, as well as sports and leisure. Their expertise lies in providing automatic control and control panels for the building services industry, where they have been involved in notable projects such as the Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter Experience.
IBMS handles multiple projects simultaneously across numerous locations in the United Kingdom. Serving multiple clients in remote areas, it is crucial for IBMS to prioritize the organization of its data and project information. IBMS also needed to be able to efficiently process and track information to ensure timely billing and keep their customers satisfied.
Prior to GoFormz, IBMS relied heavily on Word documents and Excel spreadsheets to track the details of their work, which led to several issues. “That process was quite slow and tedious and the guys on site didn’t really stick to a standard structure,” Jason Harper, Managing Director for IBMS explained. “They would sometimes miss information or not capture relevant information and that would give us problems.” Matthew Harper, Maintenance Manager for IBMS added, “Our process was a little too fluid, so we needed to try and pin it down and make it more structured.”
The information collected on site was substantial, and it had to be collated, sanitized, and presented to the client in a polished format. This was difficult due to the prevalence of remote locations, which required IBMS teams to rely on the exchange of manual information, resulting in frequent delays. “Previously, the guys would go to the site on a Thursday and we may see that site visit report a week later. And that's not great from a turnaround point of view, especially when we need to get that information back to the client,” noted Jason. As a consequence of these delays, the invoicing process also lagged, resulting in dissatisfied customers.
After acknowledging the potential for process improvements, IBMS was introduced to GoFormz by their IT department.
Change is typically a challenging process for field teams, especially when adopting new technology. Fortunately, GoFormz simplifies user adoption by allowing users to convert their existing spreadsheets or paper forms into identical, digital versions. This functionality alleviates the struggles that naturally come with adopting new technology by providing a familiar user interface, and helps businesses optimize their processes with minimal change.
Due to the extensive data collection requirements of IBMS field documentation, their documentation evolved from various pages to several digital forms, improving the end-user experience. “It sounds like a lot more work but it’s actually a lot more user-friendly. So although there's more information, it's easier to scroll through and look at,” as Matthew explained their transition from spreadsheets to digital forms. “It's a lot of checkboxes which makes it easier since there aren’t so many words where you've got to read and have a bit of technical know-how of what you are reading.” Their original Word documents were highly technical, using terminology that made it necessary for end users to know precisely what they were searching for within these lengthy documents. As a consequence, there were numerous instances where individuals either misinterpreted the documentation or were unable to locate the information they needed.
Once these digital improvements were implemented, the rest of the IBMS team quickly adapted to GoFormz. “Once they got over the initial shock of this is how it's going to be and understood the workflow, I think they realized there was actually less work for them to do because all they were doing was literally going, ‘yes, no, no, yes, yes,’” noted Jason. “Once they pressed complete, they could forget about it and make their way home because everything else was dealt with by GoFormz.”
While the need for incorporating a digital form solution into their daily processes was to create a systematically structured workflow, IBMS was also able to include various form fields and features that drastically enhanced their data collection.
Their initial data collection begins with their health and safety forms. “An engineer lands on site and begins with the risk assessments and method statement, and you can’t move on until that form is completed,” explained Matthew. This process is incorporated into every form, guaranteeing that no data is overlooked and guiding the user through a straightforward form-filling experience. He continued on to explain how they use Required Fields, Checkbox Fields, and Conditional Logic to make this happen. “They would go through that process and tick any boxes. Obviously, if a section isn’t selected, then they can’t close the form down until they have completed the entire form.”
After enforcing data capture to collect complete health and safety documentation, that information is immediately routed to their back-office personnel. “Once a form is completed, then it comes back to both myself and our maintenance admin. So they get a copy of that PDF and then the guys in the field would move on to do the actual report,” noted Matthew. The field crew then completes their maintenance forms including information in regard to details of the job, any findings, anything that needs to be kicked off to another member, additional comments, and then gets signed off. Required fields are also used to enforce electronic signatures that are captured on the document, enabling the team to obtain the necessary authorizations to proceed with their work.
“So it all funnels them down to a specific way of doing their forms the way we need it,” Matthew exclaimed. Once the report is completed in the field, a PDF is sent to Matthew and an admin to review before sending it out to the client. If any additional quotes come from the work conducted in the field, then that information is routed to Matthew who then compiles a separate quote for the client for any remedial works.
Now the IBMS team has a clear systematic workflow that allows for accurate data collection in the field and streamlined access to that data for processing in real-time.
With a structured process in place, emerged additional benefits stemmed from their newly digitized forms. Using the Location field, IBMS is able to accurately capture the exact location of their engineers, resulting in accountability, remote visibility, and an extra means of capturing data.
In addition, various images are captured while on site to increase visibility and enhance documentation. “If the guys have identified broken, failed, or problematic equipment, they can actually capture an image on their phone and add it straight into the form as they’re going through the procedure,” explained Jason. “That really works well because a photo paints a thousand words, so it’s really handy to capture images while the guys are on site.”
Prior to GoFormz, this process was extremely manual and created many formatting issues with their existing spreadsheets. “Previously, we would drag [photos into our documents] but it shifted things around a lot. It was quite time-consuming,” Matthew explained. “It was a pain and it definitely wasn’t as easy as what we have with GoFormz now.”
As the IBMS field teams often work in remote locations, they needed the capability to fill out forms on their devices without internet connectivity to complete their documentation. “They could be in a basement, underground, or really anywhere, and don’t need to have a great phone signal,” Jason explained. “So actually having something that would cache and synchronize when they came above ground or were traveling back home, that ticked a lot of boxes for us.”
IBMS was able to identify two distinct benefits that have contributed to their ROI: time savings and flexibility. “[GoFormz] really sped everything up because before it was mainly me sifting through a lot of reports trying to make sense of it all and put it into some sort of order that the end client could understand,” Matthew recalled. “Time is money, so whenever you are reading a site report for hours on end, it’s a lot of money down the drain.” Jason added, “Time is money in our business, so capturing information in a timely manner with GoFormz has definitely saved us a lot of money.” Jason also noted that since everything is done in a timely fashion that has been the greatest advantage for them in creating an efficient revenue stream when invoicing their clients.
In addition to time savings, the IBMS team has found GoFormz to be extremely flexible, which has helped when configuring their digital forms. “I created a lot of the initial reports and I found it quite intuitive and easy to put together the sort of reports that we wanted to produce in GoFormz,” Jason explained. “As Matthew said before, everything was very wordy before in our reports and we turned that into checkboxes and that made much more sense.” The flexibility of creating and amending forms to match their unique business needs has been an added bonus to the IBMS team and has ultimately simplified their processes.