A Derbyshire, UK-based company, Darley PCM Ltd (founded by Emma Jeffery in 2010), offers two online services targeting the architecture, engineering and construction market. The more mature offering relates to one of Emma’s strengths: health and safety; the latest offering is an e-tendering service.
The interactive DarleyDoc Software-as-a-service aims to help professionals produce high quality, tailored health and safety documentation for projects and activities, matching project management requirements with the consultation and communication required by law.
“Our philosophy is not to produce generic health and safety documents that cannot be successfully implemented within your business, but to provide the tools and guidance to produce the documents you require quickly and efficiently, without compromising the safety of your workforce.”
Basic price packages for the DarleyDoc service start from £35/month for contractors (who are set up with a policy statement, method statements, risk assessments, COSHH assessments and COSHH inventory), up to £70 for main contractors (which includes management of CDM documents, subcontractors, and monitoring). All include employee accounts, and document and file management.
Darley eTender is a web-based e-Tendering service designed to take the headaches out of managing a conventional paper-based process. Users across the supply chain from clients, architects and main contractors through to subcontractors and suppliers, are provided with their own branded eTender portal through which they can issue tender documents to their prospective suppliers and contractors. Costs start from £250 for a single tender, with annual packages allowing users to issue from 2-5 (£500, or £100 per tender) right through to 50-100 tenders (£6000, or £60 per tender).
A quick interview with Emma Jeffery
1. How long has Darley PCM been trading?
Darley PCM was launched in 2010 providing online services for the construction industry. PCM stands for Providing for Construction Management.
2. What is your background?
I have six years’ experience working in the construction industry within project management and health and safety. I have a first class honours degree in construction management, have gained NEBOSH and am a member of IOSH. I have also been involved with website work, developing websites and online services for construction clients. I set up Darley PCM after I identified a number of key online services that can be provided to benefit existing clients and the construction industry. I feel the industry needs to embrace online technology to streamline the industry and continue to improve efficiency particularly in the current economic climate and going forward.
3. What has been the take-up of the two services to date? What types of firms are showing interest?
Since launching the company I have worked with various contractors providing bespoke web services, documentation and achieving accreditation such as CHAS. The health and safety services have been running since 2010 with take-up from both main contractors and subcontractors. Feedback was that many were struggling with keeping documents up-to-date, filing and recording documents issued on site, and basic integration of the health and safety documents into their business. This is the key service that DarleyDoc will offer going forward, along with document creation. Not all the services are available currently as new services are still in development; however, we plan to launch the entire service by early 2012.
Darley eTender officially launched this week. I have built bespoke stand-alone e-tender services for main contractors, but the new service is designed to be a more cost-effective solution to tender distribution. Even those with lower tendering demands can benefit from e-tendering without the start-up expense of having a bespoke system developed from scratch. I know the high costs of issuing tender documents to multiple subcontractors and suppliers, along with the time involved with reproducing multiple copies and waiting for postal deliveries, and believe e-tendering can significantly improve this process. I have had interest from main contractors and I am currently building an online demonstration to allow potential clients to see for themselves the simplicity of the service – from talking to previous contractor customers, the main barrier for online services is the perceived difficulty in using them.
4. Especially for the H&S services, any mobile functionality? (in the pipeline?)
To allow DarleyDoc to be fully integrated into organisations at all levels and offer clients solutions to the integration of health and safety management procedures across locations, we will be providing mobile functionality for the majority of the site’s functions.
Regarding Darley eTender, we plan to have some mobile functions in terms of alerts to documents, deadlines, tendering calendar, messages etc.
Online management of health and safety information has been around for some years. BIW Technologies pioneered web-based production and maintenance of Health & Safety Files, etc in the the early 2000s, and I also recently looked at BC Assure, Unit4 Collaboration‘s compliance system, which enables firms to manage health and safety among many other issues. This is an area also addressed by CloudsUK.com (see last week’s blog post) where Eurosafe UK use their platform to run projects where they are CDM co-ordinators, and I think DarleyDoc will be attractive to a similar market where small to medium-sized construction businesses want to manage and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
Construction e-tendering platforms have also been launched by several other firms over the past decade, all making similar claims about reducing the cost and inefficiency of managing largely paper-based processes. BIW and various other UK construction collaboration technology vendors – eg: 4Projects, Asite, Sarcophagus (eTenderer 2006 post), Unit4, etc – all include e-tendering functionality within and/or alongside their core platforms. I have also looked at some stand-alone systems – eg: the RICS (2006 post), Asktobi (post), and the Aconex venture BidContender in Australia (post). Darley is not competing with the collaboration vendors’ integrated e-tendering products; it is aimed at industry professionals mainly at the SME level wanting a stand-alone solution. Its challenge will be to offer a competitively and sustainably priced, reliable and secure alternative to existing providers; the quoted costs certainly undercut Sarcophagus’s e-Tenderer.com, while I can see contractors carefully weighing up their anticipated requirements before making a choice between the Darley offering and that of Asktobi.
As a recent start-up, Darley will also have to market its services efficiently and effectively. I was pleased to hear Emma talk about providing a demonstration environment – as I said recently in relation to another start-up (see BuildBoxCM faces the AEC start-up challenge), prospective customers need to know what the applications look like. They will also want to quickly see that the applications are relevant to their type of business and their role, and to be reassured by case studies or at least a few mentions of named customers.