Verus Group: high quality firestopping and compartment surveys with PlanRadar
Delivering Exceptional Projects With Bespoke Solutions
Verus Group was founded in 2018 by a team of three directors. One, Jordan Grimes, was at that time a director of an electrical company, but repeatedly noted that his clients were left hunting for reliable firestopping services. Seeing a gap in the market and a lack of properly trained experts, the founding team initially sought training through product manufacturers before launching Verus Group, and soon went on to gain 3rd party accreditations.
Beginning with a select group of clients, the Verus Group team have found themselves much in demand. Their current team of three employees is looking to double in size in 2022, and also uses an established network of subcontractors to help them deliver a range of projects of differing scales.
Retrofitting projects are still the bulk of Verus Group’s workload, ensuring that older buildings are fit for purpose and compliant with regulations. They also work closely with a residential contractor on large-scale housing projects, including blocks of flats. However, the team are always interested in new challenges, completing firestopping and fire compartment surveys in all kinds of buildings, from heritage buildings to laboratories and railway control centres.
The problem: reducing administrative pressure, cost-effectively
As a young business, and realising that accountability would be key for both themselves and their clients, they knew they would have to keep a record of all installations. However Verus Group didn’t initially use a digital solution specifically designed for the fire industry. Their first priority was to deliver high quality services to customers while keeping a fledgling business afloat. A big investment in software wasn’t a high priority.
At first, the team used pen, paper and a camera to document installations, completed work and conditions on-site. Dominique Thistleton, another of the company directors, would then compile all the data into reports for clients. This method was time-consuming and it also meant that data wasn’t stored in a way that was easy to access.
As the workload began to increase, the directors knew that further digitisation would help their team efficiency. The next step was an investment in tablets that could be taken onto sites to record data. At this stage, Verus Group looked to invest in specialist fire safety software. However upon searching the market, poor reviews and a high cost point lead them to decide against it.
Instead, they turned to Evernote, a non-specialised cloud-based solution that allowed the site teams to add notes and photos to a shared data environment. In practice, this method was similar to pen and paper, but it began to ease the administrative burden. With the use of templates and a more formatted approach to the initial data recording, it was somewhat easier to transfer the information and compile reports manually.
The solution: demonstrating effectiveness and ease-of-use for firestopping teams
However, directors Thistleton and Grimes knew that there must be a better option out there. After reaching out to an online community of fire safety experts for a recommendation, a friend in the industry recommended PlanRadar. He had trialled several different solutions and felt that PlanRadar was the best fit for his work.
Intrigued, Thistleton and Grimes reached out to PlanRadar’s team for a demonstration and trial phase. After a short onboarding period, during which the directors collaborated with PlanRadar’s consultants to build their initial set of forms, the software was rolled out to the team. For one week, the Verus team used PlanRadar alongside their existing method of data capture, making sure that the app could do everything that they needed it to. However, it was quickly clear that it was a good fit and after the first week of trialling, the team moved onto only using PlanRadar to track their work.
The results: time saved, transparency gained and even more autonomy for Verus’ teams
Following the successful trial, the team created more custom forms and reports to meet their needs, so that every project they undertake is now managed within PlanRadar. Today, Verus Group uses the platform to document all completed work, logging details including before and after photos and materials used, pin-pointing the specific working areas on plans, and generating client-ready, easy to digest reports, presented to the standards required by their 3rd party accreditors.
They also use PlanRadar when surveying new projects with view to making remedial recommendations, and for conducting fire door surveys. Internally, Verus use PlanRadar for health & safety forms and appliance checklists.
The Verus team identify PlanRadar as having different office- and site-based benefits. For office-based benefits, Dominique Thistleton said, “PlanRadar enables me to keep a close eye on everything that’s happening on-site. It has generally increased our efficiency across the office and has enabled us to respond to our clients very quickly and flexibly. If they need a report on a specific area of a building, or a short-term progress report, we can turn that around in minutes. It negates ambiguity through the formatted method of recording information and the ability to add extra information or notes for internal use. I also find PlanRadar useful for tracking how cost-effective our pricing is, as we can see whether we’ve overestimated or underestimated the time and resources that a specific project takes. That helps us to make data-driven decisions about the projects we take on, the resources we allocate to them and the amount we charge.”
Jordan Grimes spoke about the site-based benefits: “PlanRadar is simple and good at what it does. It’s very easy to use and, whether the team on-site are online or offline, they can just keep working and be sure that their data is safe. The ability to upload photos after the fact is also invaluable, and is helpful when not all members of a team have access to a PlanRadar account. They can simply share evidence with another team member who uploads the details into the system. Overall, PlanRadar has added accountability and transparency to the way we work.”
To date, Verus Group have used PlanRadar on over 90 projects. While some take just a day to complete and others take several months, Verus find that all of them can be more effectively documented and managed with PlanRadar.