Yesterday, I dashed from BIW’s breakfast briefing in London to Reading to catch the second half of Unit4 Collaboration’s seminar on BC Assure. Described as “progressive quality assurance for projects and programmes” BC Assure provides a secure cloud-based platform to manage and audit quality and process compliance.
Launched at Project Challenge in London last week, it has been developed in collaboration with water utility company Thames Water, and Thames’ Paul Meredith was one of the speakers at both its launch and the Reading seminar. The system has also been deployed within Unit4 to help people monitor use of its Plan4 process used in software development and deployment projects.
At the core of the system is a ‘grid view’ depicting the process that a project will follow, and what steps are needed to complete the project. Project managers can use the system to monitor progress and identify any bottlenecks, while compliance and quality managers can see what steps have proof of assurance. Reaction from seminar attendees suggested that the system’s use of Red/Amber/Green traffic light indicators was a big factor in encouraging adoption; dashboards help managers get a high-level view of project progress, and they can, if necessary, drill down into supporting documentation. The product was developed to support efficient production of Thames’ project-related Health and Safety, Operation and Maintenance and QA manuals, but – as ideas flowed in the seminar – might easily be applied to other collaborative processes such as bid management, recruitment, etc.
Talk of Health and Safety Files took me back almost a decade to 2002 and BIW’s then ground-breaking development of an electronic, web-based Health and Safety File for Sainsbury’s (functionality soon made available to all BIW customers); I also, much more recently, looked at Aconex’s partnership with Grazer to accelerate the production and handover of post-construction operation and maintenance manuals to clients in Australasia.
But BC Assure is a different type of product. While BIW’s system helps the gradual collation of a library of documentation, BC Assure seems to be more focused on managing, monitoring and reporting entire processes. It helps individual users (and their managers and/or, in distributed multi-company projects, external project partners) identify their ownership and management responsibilities for various documents and activities, and the extent to which they had fulfilled those requirements. The real-time compliance reporting means compliance and QA managers can get an at-a-glance view of how far project stages have been correctly and consistently documented. For a business like Thames Water, working in the highly regulated water industry, achieving and maintaining legislative compliance with standard procedures is a critical issue, and a cloud-based compliance solution meant many responsibilities could quickly and easily be devolved to individuals among its project delivery partners, while maintaining visibility and transparency of the overall process.