“I can wholeheartedly recommend GreyRidge’s work on our system.”
Russell Stinson, Managing Director, ACT Clean
About the Company
ACT Clean are a leading London-based provider of services to the hospitality industry.
“Your premises need to be spotless. Your kitchen porters need to work hard and fit seamlessly into your kitchen. Your guest rooms need to be immaculate.”
Originally united by a passion for playing football, John Stevenson, Robert Beaugie and Russell Stinson started ACT Clean in 2006 because they knew these essential services weren’t being properly delivered by other contract cleaning firms. They wanted to set the bar higher. They still share that passion for excellence.
That’s why, after working at another hospitality contract cleaning company, they decided to set up on their own. In the early days they could be found making beds and washing dishes alongside their staff – doing whatever it took to deliver what their clients needed.
The trio became a quartet when Paul Tocher, joined from Bank Zander. He was much better at washing dishes so was put in charge of their operations team.
Today, ACT has more than 800 staff working on a range of activities such as kitchen cleaning, housekeeping, front of house and window cleaning.
For the founders, while this fantastic growth is a tremendous acheivement, inevitably, it has also thrown up operational challenges.
This sort of business naturally generates a lot of documentation. This includes a diverse range of records such as job applications and processing, employee records, skills, timesheets and work records. Clients also need regular, accurate summaries of work completed and require clear invoicing.
In the early days, it made sense to process records for these items on a set of spreadsheets and in other electronic files. Over time, the directors recognised that it would make financial sense to automate those processes that caused the business most inefficiency and that effective automation would be crucial to their long term success.
The directors took the view that such automation is often best done gradually and in stages. They were wary of buying a system that did everything “on day one” because they knew that requirements for software functionality change over time and are often best understood in the light of real business experience.
As a result, they knew that they needed a system to grow with their business so that points of inefficiency and the specification new functionality could be tackled when needed.
In late 2010 and after a recommendation from another GreyRidge client, Russell Stinson approached GreyRidge with these ideas about the sort of software system that might best benefit his growing business.
GreyRidge technical staff listened to Russell and spent time showing him some examples of GreyRidge bespoke software of a similar nature to the system that he had in mind. They also spent time documenting the processes and records that would need to be reflected in the new system.
One of the more attractive benefits of the GreyRidge bespoke service was their ability to gradually develop a system for ACT over time. Using their GRAD bespoke framework, the GreyRidge team are able to change and extend a system to match the changing needs of a growing business.
The team at GreyRidge came up with a technical design for software that might fit the bill. This was passed back to ACT in the form of a specification along with clear proposed costs and timescales.
In October 2010, ACT commissioned GreyRidge to work on a “phase one” system. ACT deliberately chose those aspects of their business that most required automation, opting to leave out some of the less pressing functionality for future phases.
This first version of the system focused on automating the collection of work completed for clients so that invoicing information could be accurately collated as a set of billing reports.
This in turn required a database of clients and key contacts, complete with the ability to record contractual information, fee and billing requirements, charging rates, schedules and desired service types.
With this in place, timesheet information could now be entered centrally so that time based reports could be created showing what billing was required for each client and when. Additionally, staff could now upload key documentation against clients and had full flexibility to amend charges as required. Finally, ACT needed this information to be exported to their accounting system.
All of this work was completed in 6 weeks and witin the budget agreed at the outset.
Russell reports “I can wholeheartedly recommend GreyRidge’s work on our system. They did exactly what we asked and the system works exactly as we envisaged; we got it on time, everything was on budget. and the support is just right. As a result, we are excited to be working on new things together”.
ACT Clean operate a people-intensive business and consequently the human resources function of the business is crucial. This in turn means that they have an ongoing need to accurately process information about applications and staff work records.
Happy with the success of phase one, ACT are currently in the process of implementing their “phase two” which is designed to automate these processes. This new phase concentrates on shifting from paper to an automated workflow that accurately processes people information.
Russell Stinson is delighted that the promises GreyRidge made about the ease of extending the system are now being realised “it was crucial for us that we could add new functionality to our system; the new work is being delivered with the same care and attention as our original system and that the result will be a seamless single system which we can build on”.
Further phases are also under consideration. For example, ACT Clean receives huge numbers of timesheets from staff and therefore has a need to process these as quickly and accurately as possible. The directors are aware that this whole process could be automated and are discussing this with GreyRidge.
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