Case Study

HBS Group Southern

The Challenge

HBS Group Southern typically has over 150 subcontractors, electricians, plumbers and apprentices working on numerous projects across different locations, which means a clear view into project performance is critical.
Charles Bull, Operations Director at HBS Group Southern, explains: “When our employees and subcontractors are out on site, we need to be able to see what’s happening, what stages different projects are at, where the pressure points are coming from and where to allocate the right resources and materials at any given time.”
“We’ve always set ourselves up to be one step ahead of our competition, thinking of ways to support our clients. Exploring a technology platform where we could have really strong visibility into our projects, but also demonstrate that to our clients was the natural next step for us.”

The Solution

Procore has made a real difference in information sharing across the supply chain at HBS Group Southern––particularly for the high volume house building clients HBS works with. Bull explains, “The project-level dashboards give us granular insight into project performance, which really matters when you’re working on over 50 projects, each of which has anywhere between 50-600 different plots over multiple phases. HBS monitors the progress of each plot by tracking and completing a checklist of 19 critical stages. Having the ability to see what stage each plot is and drill into any one of those and see exactly how the job is progressing is invaluable. The data is live and can be viewed at any time from anywhere, it's not just held in a manager's book. All that adds up to less time chasing the statuses of projects, and trying to stay on top of jobs.”

The Results

“We’ve always set ourselves up to be one step ahead of our competition, thinking of ways to support our clients. Exploring a technology platform where we could have really strong visibility into our projects, but also demonstrate that to our clients, was the natural next step for us.”
Charles Bull
Operations Director
HBS Group Southern
HBS group workers

The Story

HBS Group Southern is a family-run business that has its roots in mechanical subcontracting. Over the last 15 years, they have expanded into electrical and renewables to meet the market demand. 

“At HBS we have a philosophy of positioning ourselves to support main contractors as much as possible. Mechanical and electrical work is often undervalued but it’s so important to the build that you have to be working hand in glove with the main contractor at all times. Other trades can get away with the odd snag here and there, but if the plumbing or electrical goes wrong, it can have a life-altering impact on the homeowner––that’s clearly a big problem,” says Bull.

As an M&E subcontractor, one of the major challenges is not being in charge of things that are happening on a programme. “Our approach is to try to position ourselves as closely as we can to the main contractor and be the one they can rely on; sharing complete project information and always providing them with a clear understanding of the issues we are facing, and the steps to mitigate them.” says Bull. “This has allowed us to be very successful, which we are going to build upon with the implementation of Procore. This will enable HBS to continue to win repeat business and expand our existing client base.”

“The benefit of Procore is having one platform which we can use to both track and manage performance on our jobs, while also sharing that information with the main contractor. Procore enables anyone on a project to quickly and easily see the latest status of a project, without having to chase other collaborators on a project for the information we need,” says Bull.

Heater room

From Hundreds of Tick Sheets to One Unified Platform

HBS’ work involves many project collaborators working across different remote sites, with each project and plot at a different phase. Keeping track of it all––particularly the ‘tick sheets’–– is a huge challenge.

“Previously, we operated a paper-based system, and it was a bit of a beast to manage. The system was good but was not scalable for the ongoing growth of the business. Engineers completed their quality checks on site which was a constant battle to get back to the office and safely record in a timely manner. It required great effort to ensure engineers had completed their checks to an acceptable level.” says Bull.

This also created issues with invoicing. “Contractors would invoice us as soon as the works were completed, then weeks after completion, the relevant Quality Check. By which time, it was too late to see if they’d completed all the work and carried out all the necessary quality inspections. We could of course penalise the contractors for this delay, but we could soon run out of contractors. We were confident the checks were being done but not getting back to the office in the timescale required”

“By carrying out Inspections in Procore, we can stay on top of completions and always have that accurate view of what has been done and what still needs to be done.” Bull explains, “Plus everything is time-stamped, whereby an automated email is sent out if things are behind. The issues we had are gone, and we can see the inspections being completed in real time.”

Close up shot of a kitchen counter corner

Setting Projects Up for Success–Now and in the Future

Another desired vision aligned to HBS’, is being a trusted key partner to its main contractors to improve project forecasting. Delays on a project can be costly, so it’s vital for HBS to be one step ahead of the game in spotting potential issues before they occur.

“When we can see what stage any project is at, it’s a lot easier to order materials for upcoming plots before it’s too late. It’s far too easy for this to become a bottleneck, with subcontractors only ordering the materials they require when they actually need them. This issue has been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19 and Brexit on our supply chain. We are experiencing volatility in the merchants stocks levels and manufacturers lead times. It's more important than ever to be able to forecast ahead on material requirements ” says Bull.

This also helps HBS when it comes to updating clients. “We can provide our clients with a status update using reports generated by Procore, showing progress and identifying any holdups in the project. This removed the need to go hunting through reams of paperwork or emails – we have the information right there without having to search for it.”

For Bull, adoption of platform technologies like Procore is helping drive the industry forward. “If you’d have said to me five years ago we’d be here with dashboards on the wall for our projects, I’d have thought you were crazy, but that’s exactly where the industry is going. With more effective analytics helping us to access the details of any particular project, we’re always going to be that one step ahead.”

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