From its head office in Bournemouth, Sircle helps clients throughout the UK to capture, manage, and maintain information on their property assets, all to maximise investment. They provide over fifty services including land, building and MEP surveys, BIM, compliance, project management, and fire safety services, enabling clients to understand how their buildings are maintained and what changes are needed to reduce risk, save time, and increase value for money.
In 2022, Sircle (formerly Topscan) celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. Throughout the years, Sircle have enjoyed sustained organic growth, seeking ways to enhance the services it provides clients through innovation. Out of a desire to increase client value and unlock the full potential of the business, they sought external expertise in the form of a virtual CIO/CTO service.
Following a competitive tender exercise, Sircle brought in Freeman Clarke’s Mike Robinson to review existing IT systems and to make recommendations toward a digital strategy that would provide a platform for future growth. Anthony Walker, Director of Sircle, said that the preparation, experience, and evident desire of Freeman Clarke to work with Sircle distinguished them from the competition during the bidding process:
‘It was clear that they’d done their homework. Mike was well informed and knew what we were about.’
After a detailed review, Mike put together a roadmap to meet Sircle’s future business needs, which gave the Board the confidence to appoint Mike to continue working with them and their existing IT service provider to implement the recommendations.
For Mike, it was matter of getting the foundations right to start with and to execute a number of changes to make Sircle more efficient and productive.
✔️One such change was moving to the cloud. Mike saw that although Sircle is a mid-market business, its data needs rivalled that of a larger company. Their surveying business, for example, involves the transfer and storage of large amounts of data, which was growing difficult with their aging in-house servers. With Microsoft 365 and Azure Cloud working alongside a new Project Information Management (PIM) solution, Sircle can more easily and efficiently manage client data and ensure it is properly archived.
As part of this, Mike strengthened the management of Sircle’s IT service provider ‘to extract value from the existing relationship,’ as he put it, and provide independent technological and commercial validation of proposals and design options.
✔️A second, related area of focus was risk assessment. Acknowledging the importance of security and cyber threats and maintaining the trust of clients, Mike managed Sircle’s Cyber Essentials renewal and is currently taking the company through its ISO 27001 certification.
✔️The third area of focus was maximising the value of the Sircle’s survey data, from collection and storage to sharing in the most effective way for clients to access. Mike has worked closely with Sircle’s teams to support the launch of Power BI dashboards for clients and the adoption of Microsoft Teams for external collaboration.
All these changes have made Sircle safer and more efficient, whilst allowing them to be more innovative and ambitious with their own service offerings: ‘We’re able to go after more complex projects with confidence,’ said Anthony.
Sircle has seen significant growth over recent years, and with its clearer digital strategy, Sircle is continuing to explore new ways of operating and improve how they deliver services to clients. It’s early days, but operating across the entire property lifecycle, they are harmonising workflows and data using a range of technology from 360° camera capture, BIM models and digital twins, to Microsoft Power Platform and AI.
In the meantime, Anthony said, ‘We have a supportive and critical friend in our IT leader. Someone who sits alongside us and makes things visible we don’t see. It’s a really strong relationship. Mike has the absolute trust of everybody in the business’.
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