Sometimes even just the simple step of following someone on Twitter can bring you some attention. Recently, I got a new follower using the Twitter handle @SyproNEC, representing Sypro Management Ltd, an East Yorkshire, UK-based company specialising in web-based collaboration software for compliance with the NEC form of construction contract. This was my first contact with the company – indeed, it was only the second time I had heard their name (I understand they were at a NEC User Group seminar at the ICE earlier this year).
From what I can see, the company was founded in October 2007 and its directors include Simon Hunt, Gerard Toplass and Dr Stuart Kings (also of Docte Consulting – speaking at the ICT4Construction event in London, 25 March 2011; post). Its Software-as-a-Service application is described as a:
“state of the art project management system … designed by NEC experts to assist a project team in managing key processes like Compensation Events, Early Warning processes and the projected final account.”
The NEC “battleground”
The NEC contract management space is an increasingly competitive market (two years ago, I said it would be the new ‘extranet battlegound’ – post). MPS, for example, has been focused on this sector since 2000, when it was founded as Needlemans-MPS Ltd (post). However, MPS’s CCM system has faced growing competition from construction collaboration technology vendors who have incorporated contract administration into the workflow processes they support, and – unlike MPS (or Sypro) – providing a rich bank of design and construction information to put contract changes into context. BIW led the way, but rivals such as 4Projects, Aconex and Asite soon began to catch up; 4Projects recently upgraded its support for the NEC3 contract, and Sword CTSpace was supposed to be launching its contract change system for FusionLive in late 2010 (post). Other businesses focused on contract change management include Contract Communicator (post).
“Unlike other products available, Sypro offers some unique features to aid effective project management, such as automated text and email notifications and real time, visual management reports.” [right]
I would quibble about the email notifications – pretty much a standard offering from most of the collaboration vendors for some years. Text notification is a useful feature, but one that may eventually be superceded, particularly as some vendors are looking to make their applications accessible via smartphone so that users can get real-time information wherever they happen to be. And dashboard pie-charts, graphs and red-amber-green process indicators all seem to figure in the visually-richer user interfaces that some vendors are developing. (Sadly, no twitter notification functionality, it appears). But if the project requirement falls short of document collaboration, then Sypro’s interface certainly appears a step forward from the spreadsheet-based appearance of MPS’s rival platform.