Case Study Published: 16/09/2020

HGP Architects embeds quality assurance, CPD, & just-in-time skills development with Pinnacle Series

A unified location for knowledge, information, and consistent practices

“Pinnacle Series has become the central nervous system of our company.
It saves hours of searching. Any information, insights or guidance anybody might need is all there in one place.
It also houses all our templates to provide easy access to consistent project workflow stages. It’s the ultimate tool for ensuring practice-wide quality standards.”

Russell Caple, Associate Director, HGP Architects

Meet HGP Architects

Established in 1968, HGP Architects has a reputation for outstanding building design for diverse sectors. Located in its award-winning office in Fareham, HGP has attracted wide-ranging industry recognition. The practice’s awards include The Times Conservation Award and RICS Project of the Year Award. For five decades, HGP Architects has helped shape the built-landscape in the South of England with architecture as inspired as it is hard-working.

Examples of HGP’s landmark projects include:
  • The iconic Spinnaker Tower, which has rated among the nation’s top five buildings people are most proud of. At 170 metres, the tower is one of the tallest accessible structures in the UK, outside London, and forms the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour. The project has gained numerous awards, including the RICS Project of the Year Award (2006) and the RICS Regeneration Award (2006).
  • Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa: This yacht-inspired 85-bedroom luxury hotel, adjacent to Admirals Quay, makes the Ocean Village development a sought-after destination for city-dwellers and visitors to Southampton. The form of the building takes reference from its nautical setting, and features a spa complex with swimming pool and gymnasium, and a restaurant and rooftop bar showcasing spectacular views of the harbour.
  • Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) HQ is a unique and functional building on the Camber site in Portsmouth. Built to BREEAM excellent standards, this purpose-built facility houses all of the team's activities from design to sailing, sports science, and marketing. It is a showcase for sport, innovation, technology and sustainability in the region.

The challenge: Maximum support for all the people, all the time

Since 2003, HGP Architects has been Investors in People (IIP) accredited. It was also one of the first architectural practices in the UK to be Quality Assured to BS EN ISO 9001:2015, the global standard for quality management systems.

Quality outcomes and people are intertwined. The better that people are supported, guided, informed and personally developed, the more confident and capable they become. This is an observation about both skills and processes; not just what they do, but how they do it consistently across a team, to established standards.

Even the most accomplished architect or designer can occasionally need to brush up his or her skills in areas of technology they may not have used in some time. Meanwhile, new staff members coming into an organisation are always looking for reassurance. In either situation, the means of obtaining precisely the knowledge or skill required, at precisely the time it’s needed, can sometimes be elusive.

Russell Caple, an Associate Director at HGP Architects who has a focus on the technical aspects of how the company works, explains why the practice decided it needed a central system that could enable e-learning within the company:

Architects are different
“We wanted a solution that could completely stand-alone, without the need for additional systems to store departmental documents, such as HR documentation, alongside the e-learning modules. We wanted to put an end to folder madness; with things occasionally saved on the server with descriptions created subjectively by users.

Not everybody’s brain works the same when trying to work out what a folder might be called that somebody else might have opened, possibly changed, and then saved back on the central system. One person’s ‘obvious’ can often be another person’s ‘obscure’.

We evaluated a number of e-learning solutions but none seemed to answer all our needs. We outlined our problem to Excitech. They introduced us to the idea of Pinnacle Series. It had the ingredient that none of the others had; it was an architect-based solution. It was designed for the world we work in. We could also make it our own; unique to HGP”.

HGP also wanted a system that could perform a document management function across a broad catalogue of company procedures and other essential information.

The Solution: Adaptable, flexible, customisable – Pinnacle Series takes every user where they need to go

Pinnacle Series, for HGP, has rapidly become what Russell refers to as a “one-stop place”; not just for e-learning but for all documentation critical to how the company works. It offers a reliable library of up-to-date software tutorials, alongside HGP’s own documentation. HGP also uses Pinnacle as a basis for staff reviews; gaining a clear view of who has been using the software for what purpose, together with the progress that Pinnacle helps them make.

Four-stage adoption
Excitech guided the HGP team through a four-stage adoption process, covering both the integral features of the software and how the company could embrace it as a personalised tool for their own needs from an organisational perspective.

The stages were:
  • Software installation: Undertaken remotely by an Excitech engineer, this stage involved basic set-up of logins and permissions.
  • Administrator training: An in-house session where Excitech guided the lead team and power users in the capabilities of Pinnacle Series, with an emphasis on how to use the administrative back end.
  • Introduction to content creation and management: Guidance on how to build a custom content platform-within-a-platform.
  • Launch presentation: Excitech helped Russell and his team to put together an internal launch package and presentation to ensure smooth user adoption and to gain buy-in.
It was during the second and third stages that the HGP team realised how extensive the platform could be: “We are quality assured with BSI,” says Russell. “This involves six-monthly and annual audits. We build professionalism and high standards into our business at every level. Our full catalogue of QA documents is now on our version of Pinnacle. They can be searched for in whatever way a user finds most intuitive; by drawing issue sheet, by name alone, or by inspector report. Pinnacle Series helps the whole team to continuously understand what those standards apply to, what their requirements are, and how to stick to them.”

Pinnacle Series comes with training paths and learning modules on the most-used software in the construction sector, including the complete Autodesk portfolio, Microsoft, and Photoshop. It provides workflows, tips and tricks, videos, learning paths, and courses created by construction sector professionals. HGP can edit any of these to bring them in line with the company’s approach as well as with its look, style, and feel. 

Power to the people
HGP holds the Investors in People accreditation. In furtherance of its commitment to nurture and develop talent at every level, Russell says that Pinnacle has provided an invaluable conduit for CPD:
“Pinnacle aids communication between everybody who works here. It’s ‘mission central’ for people helping people. It also accelerates processes that once took up a lot of time. People can dip in and out whenever the need arises. They make faster progress. They’re motivated by the self-help aspect; that feeling of independence and solving issues under their own initiative, with a little help from Pinnacle. If they are ever stuck with using the software, the live chat and email support it offers provide fairly immediate help.

At any moment in time throughout a working day, you’ll always find a number of team members logged in and either using Pinnacle to refresh their memories, complete a CPD module, gain some quick on-the-job insights, or check out any aspect of company documentation or processes.”
 

The outcomes: This is what ‘good’ looks like

Exploring new potential
“Excitech has been our go-to for all software solutions, advice and licenses for fifteen years and we always know that whatever they suggest for our business will add value,” says Russell.  “With our adoption of Pinnacle, they took us step by step through the whole process. They were determined to make sure that we understood its full potential and that we had the confidence to make best use of its deep functionality.

I’d suggest that any company needs this sort of insight in the early stages, otherwise they might never appreciate how far they can go with Pinnacle, and how much they can turn it into a valuable knowledge centre across the business.  Now that’s it’s in place at HGP, Excitech continues to keep us aware of new developments from Eagle Point, the creators of Pinnacle.”

Excitech have invited Russell and his team to Eagle Point seminars to help consolidate HGP’s capability’s with Pinnacle and give them a view of developments planned for the future.

Russell summarised HGP’s response to Pinnacle:

Better than best practice
“From the customisation point of view, Pinnacle shows everybody in the company what ‘good’ looks like. The bulk of day-to-day procedures applicable to every project we handle, is now instantly accessible. Templates, drawing sheets, schedules, sections are all there ready for people to just drop in the details. So, Pinnacle is now the backbone of ensuring quality, maintaining high standards, supporting every team member, and removing tedium and human error from any aspect of what we do. We believed it was best practice before, now it’s even better than that.”

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