We recently talked with international firm COINS about winning a Queen’s Award and their expansion into Asia. We now delve further into COINS daily operations with construction-post’s new section, How We Work.
COINS is a leading globally recognised construction software market leader that provides commercial and engineering contractors with a single, fully integrated platform that manages the entire lifecycle of a project or multiple projects. The company recently won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade, and as part of their plans to move into Asia, will soon announce the acquisition of a software business that has staff in Hong Kong.
We ask Nigel Cope, CEO Emerging Markets, about these and other matters for our new segment.
Who founded COINS and when was it established?
The company was founded by Larry Sullivan and myself in 1986, and at that time was called Computer Systems for Business Limited (CSB). In 2003, we changed the name to Construction Industry Solutions Limited (abbreviated to COINS).
Describe your UK HQ
Our new HQ office is located in Slough, Berkshire, a few minutes off the M4 and M25 motorways, close to Heathrow Airport and 20 minutes by train from London Paddington, Reading and Oxford. The building was completed in 2001, and comprises 14,663 sq ft. of internal floor space.
We completed the purchase of the building and started our first day of business on March 28, 2013, by which time we’d completed an initial refurbishment and fit-out programme, including construction of the Cookie Bar on the ground floor, which promotes our social enterprise.
The ground floor also comprises various meeting and presentation rooms and a training lab. The first and second floors are where most employees are based with a mix of open plan, ‘hot’ desks and designated offices.
We recently installed two 55-inch ShadowSense™ touch screens, one in Larry s office the other in the first floor video conference and meeting room, and a 4×2 Mobile Videowall with interactive touch screens, monitors and stand in the main presentation and meeting room on the ground floor.
The final stage of our refurbishment completes this September with the 3rd (top) floor gym, where we have installed a variety of gym equipment. There will also be 4 Sleep Boxes (pods), a lounge area with comfortable seating area with TV and a small kitchen, all of which is can be used by staff and visitors.
Are there any other companies in the building?
Yes, we recently welcomed around 15-20 staff from Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, who have moved into offices on the ground floor. Chairman and Co Founder, Larry Sullivan, sits on its Board, and it’s one of the many good causes supported by the COINS Foundation, so there are obvious synergies with our social enterprise activities.
What does a typical day at COINS HQ involve?
A typical day at COINS HQ invariably starts with a visit to the Cookie Bar for the first coffee of the day and to place an order for lunch, which is provided free to employees and visitors. The Cookie Bar has become a social meeting place, a place where colleagues catch up and get to know what others are doing.
What is COINS currently working on?
A couple of months ago, we completed the rollout of our new global customer support and service system called RemedyForce. COINS product development is a continuous process, with 2 major releases each year. The current development focus is on Version 11.02, which will feature a brand new User Interface, a sophisticated Business Planning & Forecasting module and further integration with leading third-party products like Microsoft’s SharePoint and Oracle’s Primavera.
How many full time staff do you employ worldwide?
We have around 300 employees worldwide, working from 14 locations.
Tell us about the Queen’s Award ceremony at your HQ
The Hon Mrs. Mary Bayliss, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, visited COINS HQ on the July 18, and presented the Award, which gives COINS permission to fly the Queen’s Award Flag for five years through the Grant of Appointment. I flew back to the UK to attend. Around 70 directors and staff also attended, and we celebrated with drinks and canapés, prepared in the Cookie Bar.
How’s your acquisition of the software business with staff in Hong Kong going?
Everything is on course to complete this by the end of August.
Where do you see the future of technology in the construction industry?
The future of technology in the construction industry, like pretty much every industry, is the Internet and mobility; it’s the way people communicate. In fact, we were able to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the Internet to The Hon Mrs. Mary Bayliss by letting her experience Google Glass, which we have several of in our R&D lab.
For the construction industry, where revenue-generating and cost-incurring activity takes place away from the comfort of head office, on a continuously changing series of project sites, mobile applications are particularly important.
Another very important technology is Building Information Modeling (BIM), although my personal belief is that effective BIM is 90% people and process and 10% technology, because this is a means of improving communication, transparency and eliminating waste and duplication.
My final favourite is technologies that help automate the capture of data, such as RFID, Biometrics and Sensors (you may have heard the expression the “Internet of Things” or “IoT”?) to enable the industry to capture data in real-time automatically, eliminating the need for manual input.
How important is to work as a team?
In a small company, it’s often easy to become reliant on a few key people. This is why we have focused on developing our processes around team-based delivery. There are several ways in which teamwork is vital to the growth and success of the company and to the development and happiness of each employee, recognising that all employees are different and each has strengths and weaknesses.
We often use Belbin® to help establish the right balance of individuals in a team, assessing people as to whether they are Plants, Resource Investigators, Monitor Evaluators, Coordinators, Implementers, Completer Finishers, Team-workers, Shapers or Specialists.