Cornwall County Council

Company: RamesysCustomer: Cornwall County CouncilSubmitted by: Decipher PR LtdThe Design and Maintenance Consultancy of Cornwall County Council (CCC) offers local government civil engineering, architecture, project management and support services. It provides a resource for the management, maintenance, and development of all the County Council’s property and estates.In addition to providing services within the County Council itself, the division works with Central government, health authorities and private bodies, including public-private partnership projects.Comprising over 400 fee-earning staff, the division is required to bid for work on a commercial basis, both from external organisations and for certain county council work under Voluntary Competitive Tendering for market testing.

Introduction of a Flexible Project Accounting Solution

Prior to 1993 CCC managed its project accounting and billing using a combination of bespoke and commercial systems.

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“With the introduction of Compulsory Competitive Tendering and the reporting requirements that it brought with it, we recognised that a more flexible solution was required, one that would allow CCC to manage its activities as separate business units,” explains Chris Weatherley, Principal Accountancy Assistant, Transport and Estates Division, CCC.Following an assessment of the products on the market, Ramesys AEC’s Conquest solution was chosen as it met CCC’s technical requirements at a competitive cost. The implementation project began in December 1992, with Conquest going live in April 1993.In 1998 CCC re-evaluated the requirements for its project accounting and billing system with a view to updating to a Windows based system. “Having assessed the products available on the market, we chose to upgrade to Ramesys AEC’s Progression AEC solution, as it best met our requirements, in the most cost-effective way,” explains Chris, adding “our decision also reflected the experience that CCC had had with Conquest and our good relationship with Ramesys AEC.

“”We planned the upgrade very carefully and, with effective support from Ramesys AEC, the move from Conquest to Progression AEC proceeded smoothly,” explains Chris, adding, “Operations were transferred from old to new systems in a single move, and our end of year results were successfully reported.”Users quickly became familiar with the new Progression AEC interface. Ramesys AEC provided training to high-level users who, in turn, cascaded this down to all users internally.

Flexible support for CCC’s Requirements

CCC has a license for 25 concurrent users, which allows approximately 100 users to access the system via Citrix Metaframe, across one of the largest County Council geographical areas in the South West of England.The level of use varies throughout the organisation, depending on the preferences of individual business units and project managers. “Some departments use clerical personnel for entry of information and report production and distribution, leaving design staff to concentrate on fee-earning activities, whilst others have a shared ‘office’ user-id, through which everybody can produce reports,” explains Chris.

CCC’s project managers can also take a more ‘hands-on’ approach, entering project information and pulling off specific reports as and when they are needed. “Progression AEC offers the flexibility to allow individual departments and project managers to use the system in the way that best suits them,” explains Chris.Progression AEC’s flexibility of data entry and reporting is also very important to CCC, “The integration of Progression AEC with Crystal Reports is of great benefit to us, as it readily allows bespoke reports to be generated, giving project and business managers the precise information they need,” explains Chris. “The flexible structure of its project ledgers, combined with strong job costing functionality, allows us to monitor the performance of projects on different bases, for example, by the business unit they are being managed by.”

Efficient Financial Management

Progression AEC offers CCC an efficient means to manage the financial aspects of its projects. “A large number of fee valuations can be generated and managed effectively and invoices can be produced for multiple projects, on the correct bases, quickly and efficiently,” explains Chris, adding, “We have recently upgraded to Progression AEC Version 3, taking advantage of Ramesys AEC’s ongoing improvements in the interface to further improve our efficiency.

“CCC uses Sun Accounts for its general ledgers and information from Progression AECs’ project ledgers is exported into this system. “This interface was developed with assistance from Ramesys AEC, drawing on its consultants’ previous experience in this area. We are further exploiting the flexibility of Crystal Reports in generating reports which take information from both Progression AEC and Sun Accounts,” explains Chris.

Looking to the Future

As with other local authorities, CCC is gearing up for Best Value, which brings an increased demand for information from this type of system. “Parameters such as cost of activities, performance of projects against targets and completion against programmes are all indicators relevant to Best Value that can be supported by Progression AEC,” explains Chris, adding, “We are also working toward introducing Progression AEC’s Electronic Time Capture (ETC) module to take advantage of the efficiency benefits that it can offer.”