ROYAL INSTITUTION OF CHARTERED SURVEYORS


Client Interview with James Kavanagh, Land Group Director
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the world's leading professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property and construction, with over 100,000 qualified members and 50,000 students and trainees in some 140 countries worldwide.

THE PUBLIC ADVANTAGE

RICS is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that acts in the public interest. When it received its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1881, it was required "to maintain and promote the usefulness of the profession for the public advantage." This guiding principle continues to drive everything that RICS does to this day ? and that includes adopting modern collaboration, consultation and communications processes that involve and empower its globally dispersed membership.

Royal Istitution of Chartered Surveyors

INOVEM Collaborate, part of INOVEM's Inclusionware suite, quickly proved itself to be the perfect fit for RICS needs. Paper-based discussions and reviews had become inefficient and anachronistic relics of those Victorian roots. Email file attachments and blanket distributions were unfocused, uninvolving and unaccountable. What was required was a smarter system of delivery and inclusion that engaged members at every level and inspired them to work together without burdening them with irrelevant information, logistics and bureaucracy.

James Kavanagh, RICS Land Group Director, said: "INOVEM Collaborate took the chains off RICS while strengthening the more creative bonds between our secretariat and our members. Previously we were in danger of experiencing 'death by admin', but now we are sharing information and developing coherent structured policies based on genuine industry consensus and synergies."

SURVEYING THE SITUATION

The task of involving and empowering RICS member groups should not be underestimated. The interests of more than 100,000 members worldwide are represented by 17 professional groups that operate like hubs for further sub-groups. An average professional group will consist of around 24 board members of which approximately eight members will be located in international locations. Traditionally, those members will have met for Executive Board Meetings four times each year, with limited opportunities for collaboration between those meetings. As with all group face-toface meetings, some of those members were heard a lot, others very little and compromise was always more likely than consensus. A new system was required that would prove more practical, economical and efficient, while also enabling more voices to be heard on a continual, ongoing basis.

James Kavanagh, RICS Land Group Director, said: "We needed to move many of these meetings online in a structured accountable manner. We initially rolled INOVEM Collaborate out through a single-group external pilot project that involved less than 50 users. Since then the system has grown exponentially and we now involve 362 separate communities and 8,000 members and staff worldwide. In the last year alone we have used INOVEM Collaborate to share and communicate 5,500 complex documents. Next year that figure will rise to 10,000 and will continue to grow as more members realise the benefits of collaborating online."

RINGING THE CHANGES

The benefits were immediate. Face-to-face meetings have been slimmed down considerably in favour of online team-working and ad hoc collaboration. More people from more regions have been able to contribute more regularly without the need for international travel and all the expense and environmental overheads that entails. Consensus is broader due to greater involvement and there is more synergy to every action and decision made. Working practice is far better between meetings because virtualisation supports continuous and current communication without overheads. Paperwork has been dramatically reduced, as has the tendency to bombard members by email with every document loosely pertaining to their role. Members have instead become empowered to be selective and focused.

"And it's not only about productivity and efficiency either ? with online collaboration comes cultural change," explained Kavanagh. "In return for playing a more active part in their communities, members regain control of their communications and the information they receive. RICS maintains the backend and provides information as a live service. There are no personal archives, nothing is hidden and this increased level of transparency engenders greater trust as well as 'positive anonymity'."

As a direct result of deploying INOVEM Collaborate, involvement has increased dramatically. There's no longer any penalty for members who aren't extroverts. Even members who have been shy in coming forward in the past can now fulfil their role as good communicators and comfortable contributors. This avoids the situation in which just the 'famous few' are heard in member meetings. Of course, once a growing population of members chooses to involve themselves and take an active part in consultations, it's important for organisations to have the tools at hand to manage, analyse, filter and report on that richer feedback. For this reason RICS is on the verge of deploying another Inclusionware module called INOVEM Consult, which will further support the engagement and involvement of its 100,000+ members.

Kavanagh said: "We have always been able to trust INOVEM to deliver, so expanding our association was simply the next step. I rely on INOVEM to enable myself and my team to scale and support this sophisticated service without specialist technical knowledge. The proof that it truly works has been our ability to empower so many members and RICS staff across so many regions to setup and run their own powerful online communities with little or no training at all."

CALCULATING THE ROI OF COLLABORATION

Revealing the financial benefits and potential return of investment for any ongoing technology deployment is never easy, but in the case of RICS adoption of INOVEM Collaborate, it's not hard to illustrate where money ? as well as the environment ? is being saved.

Let's look at some of the more obvious cost savings of taking just the RICS 17 professional management groups online. Although some documents have historically been distributed via email, most information was also printed, duplicated and distributed. It can roughly be estimated that: 17 groups, with an average 28 members per group, each receiving ten papers each of around four pages per paper four times per year, at 5p per page would equate to around ?3,500 per year in print costs. Postage would be around ?3,300 on top of this, plus labour costs for around ?4,400. Paper costs can therefore be estimated at around ?11,200 saved.

Productivity is an enormous area of savings. Paper and email systems lack centralisation or a persistent record. INOVEM Collaborate eliminates information resends and separate distribution list maintenance. It speeds up members' searches for information, review process and discussions. Formal records of discussions are dynamically created and stored. Even if each active RICS member saved just 15 minutes per week in administration at ?50 per hour, that would equate to a conservatively low estimate of ?650 per member per year, or an astonishing ?309,400 total saved annually for the management group members alone.

For these groups, attendance at face-to-face meetings has been cut to 50% of previous levels. If 14 less people in each of 17 professional groups travelled a conservative average distance of 100 miles by train four times a year, not only would they save 18 metric tonnes of CO2 between them (or 45 metric tonnes if they all travelled by car), they would also save around ?50 per person per trip, or ?45,000+ a year saved.

RICS is also now able to involve international members in more than their average one meeting per year because they have negated the cap on travel expenses. This provides a far more cost-effective return on overseas participation, increasing membership and related fees.

Taking onboard these rough sample figures for RICS 17 groups, taking the business online with INOVEM Collaborate and making its use ever more pervasive in the future, is a nobrainer. With in excess of 8,000 members involved in over 350 online communities the projected savings is likely to be easily in excess of ?850,000 per year to RICS itself and far, far more the collective RICS membership.

And don't forget the enormous easing of logistical burdens as well as the hugely reduced impact on the environment.

CO2 Emission Chart
An online CO2 Emissions Calculator, such as that provided by DirectGov, provides an at-a-glance picture of the potential savings of structured web-based consultation, collaboration and communication.

James Kavanagh concluded: "RICS now supports and provides a sustainable, cost-effective and environmentally aware collaboration and involvement platform that actively reaches out to and engages its membership. As well as the more tangible benefits detailed, RICS is also producing a far higher quality product that optimises the highly specialised industry expertise of our collective membership. This has resulted in better policies and guidance while all the while strengthening the core value proposition of RICS membership. With INOVEM's help, we continue to 'maintain and promote the usefulness of the profession for the public advantage'"

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"RICS maintains the backend and provides information as a live service. There are no personal archives, nothing is hidden and this increased level of transparency engenders greater trust as well as 'positive anonymity'."
"The proof that it truly works has been our ability to empower so many members and RICS staff across so many regions to setup and run their own powerful online communities with little or no training at all."
"RICS now supports and provides a sustainable, costeffective and environmentally aware collaboration and involvement platform that actively reaches out to and engages its membership."

James Kavanagh,
Land Group Director