Hugo Gervais, designer of the collaborative platform Urbest, granted us this interview at the early morning hour. For this financial engineer by training, time is a precious commodity, as evidenced by the interface of his collaborative software. Urbest simplifies property management thanks to its maintenance and service tool available to managers, stakeholders and partners. Task tracking and orchestration of interventions are among the functionalities that allow users to save time. Decipher below with Alexandre McCormack, CEO of Shayp.
Alex: Changing the status quo in property management and maintenance: your ambition?
Hugo: My analysis is based on the following observation: existing CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System) interfaces are often too complex and discourage users. The value proposition at the software level for property management is quite low, even though more and more players in this sector are involved. The idea of creating a collaborative, ergonomic and intuitive software package to facilitate management and maintenance work was born out of an awareness of the needs of those working in the field. Historically, each player came with his own process without worrying too much about interactions with other players: managers, design offices, owners, one-off service providers. Now, the collaborative approach is gaining in power and allows real estate players to be more efficient, more reliable and ultimately to strengthen trust between players.
Alex: So the idea for Urbest came from the angle of an easy to use application?
Hugo: Absolutely. Today it’s becoming commonplace, but in 2016, there was quite a contrast between applications for private life and what you could have at work. Thinking about ergonomics to provide the best possible user experience is a differentiator. In digital language we talk about UX, for User Experience. The aim of UX is to make communication and work easier for managers, applicants and stakeholders. We have therefore designed our platform in an ergonomic way, it is open to all building trades who wish to work together. I’m talking about collaborative job tracking, i.e. getting several people to work together as efficiently as possible. To give you an example, the google sheet is a very good collaborative work tool. The days of constantly asking an omniscient user for extractions are almost over. Today, people expect to have a shared knowledge of what is going on. Urbest illustrates this new way of working.
Alex: You gave the example of a hospital where the quality of each intervention is valued, the person in charge feels gratified?
Hugo: Urbest is adaptable by clients to choose its available services, its users and its assets. One of our functionalities is the possibility of rating the quality of the intervention carried out by a maintenance team or a technician. At first glance, there was some apprehension about the rating but the positive side quickly won out. On average, the quality is around 4.9/5 for service providers who provide services using Urbest! This is an excellent way of valuing the teams and those who run the buildings on a daily basis. As an example, one hospital went from 10 interventions per day to 15, with a gain in efficiency that went beyond our expectations, which were 20%. Our software enables us to enhance the value of the work of the people in the field. It’s rewarding for them. By lightening their administrative and repetitive tasks, they can carry out more actions in a shorter period of time.
Alex: Indeed, the best practices are those that benefit from support. Shayp’s platform supports its user in detecting and searching for the leak. On the other hand, one should not get lost in a bidding war for features. How to achieve a balance between sufficient customisation and ease of use?
Hugo: Each user approaches the platform by using it as it comes. This means that you have to show value in use very quickly otherwise a user will not take the time to discover how he can shape the platform. If Urbest works today, it is because we have not succumbed to the temptation to put buttons everywhere and have kept a simple interface that leads the user to predictable and understandable choices. Even though nature abhors emptiness and white spaces, we want to keep this simplicity at the heart of Urbest. The pitfall for historical software publishers is often having too many features and requiring a PhD in X solution to be able to use it.
Alex: What is the biggest brake on the adoption of your tool?
Hugo: I would say it’s having the will to change one’s habits. Urbest changes the habits of interaction between people by making them more collaborative and cooperative. This means that we become more efficient but also more dependent on our employees. When an unaccountable structure becomes collaborative, there can be some tension about fear of the reaction of others. Nevertheless, this is quickly overcome and users are enthusiastic about switching to a collaborative model. It is always interesting to find the right person who will take on the role of driving force to convince other users to switch from a silo approach to a collaborative approach.
Hugo: What place does Shayp envisage having in existing energy systems?
Alex: Our platform is a working tool used every day by maintenance teams and technicians, so we communicate mainly with people in the field. Of course, our system must be open to other types of energy flows. This is why it must be possible to share data. Shayp thus connects to existing energy platforms. We talk about an open Application Programming Interface (API). Shayp’s strategic objective is to optimise water consumption in buildings. We want to save water. We have to make our software as intuitive and ergonomic as possible because we want to make it easier for the person who has to detect leaks and make the necessary repairs. The sooner the leak is plugged, the more water is preserved.
Hugo: What does it mean for Shayp to be collaborative?
Alex: Listening to our users. Knowing how to respond to customer requests by knowing their needs. We are 100% involved in the process, from the adoption of the tool to its use, right up to the repair. We want to offer the best possible support, from the pilot project to the end customer. Although no training is required to use our platform, we remain at the disposal of users if needed. It is now also possible to download detailed reports on consumption, leakage, costs, etc. over a given period of time directly onto the Shayp platform. This will help facility managers or energy managers in their reporting, particularly in the context of their CSR or ESG objectives
Hugo: What is Shayp’s enemy?
Alex: The major obstacle is ignorance about the problem of water loss in buildings. Yet one building out of three has costly leaks, that’s huge! On average, we manage to reduce water consumption by 22% by addressing all the anomalies in the system and water leaks. For example, for a group of schools, we have been able to help them save over €200,000 on their water bill.
Synergies assured between Shayp and Urbest: the collaborative approach also allows us to create partnerships between companies that have the same needs and can set up combined offers. To be continued!