Company Spotlight does exactly what it says on the proverbial tin. Learn all about the history, BIM journey and latest Building Information Modelling developments of some of the industry’s most-recognisable names. Learn all about Evolve Consultancy today, the UK‘s premier BIM consultancy ready to help you with your digital production design processes.
“BIM Consultancy” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Evolve is a team of experts who help practices, big or small, advanced or beginners, to work more profitably by improving the use of their digital production technology. But it’s not just about BIM, as Founding Director Nigel Davies is keen to point out: “We help people evolve their business practices to enable more efficient project delivery. BIM is a major part of that, but it’s always more about the process and most importantly the people.”
For Evolve, the name really does speak for itself. “We help people evolve, but as a business we always need to be evolving ourselves,” confirms Nigel.
The company was formed in 2005, becoming incorporated in 2007, following Nigel’s role as a consultant with Whitbybird’s (as they were then, now amalgamated into the larger beast that is Ramboll) technology consultancy service called “the-e-shop”.
“That experience was fundamental to the success of Evolve,” Nigel explains. “We had an internal modelling team, the SMG – Specialist Modelling Group, where we were investigating the use of modelling technology to resolve project production and coordination issues before anyone had dreamed up the term ‘BIM’.
“We demonstrated so many improvements in quality, reduction in RFIs and systems efficiencies that we decided to offer our services externally to wider project teams. Hence my experience in project consultancy began.”
Following the reduction in Whitbybird’s work in the years after 9/11, Nigel set up on his own, offering CAD Management services & process improvement advice. “To be honest, I’d had a couple of job offers, so decided to offer services to all of them. I was providing services to companies that didn’t have a CAD Manager and to those that did, for extra guidance and support. The company just grew naturally from there.”
Demand for Evolve’s “unique, open and honest help” increased and additional Directors David Moyes joined the company in 2006, followed by Karen Fugle in 2007. “Good times,” reminisces Nigel, “good times indeed. Dave and Karen both had their strengths and helped develop our business into what it has become today. There would be no Evolve without them, that’s when we really defined our services and our work ethic.”
David and Karen may no longer be with Evolve, but the company has continued to steadily grow to the size it is now. Joined currently by fellow Director Daniel Heselwood and four consultants, including a newly recruited Junior, Nigel is keen to stress that Evolve will always remain a small business to ensure that the staff are the best experts they can be:
“Each person who works for Evolve has their own specialisms, but we always make sure we build on a foundation of consistent best-practice working methods, what we term ‘the Evolve Way’. That’s crucial to maintain the level of quality we pride ourselves on and ensures that any one of our clients is always given clear, unambiguous guidance from any of our team.
“Our approach is always based on tried and tested methods, proven by some of the best practices in the world, applying our full experience to current ‘digital production’ problems.”
Daniel adds: “We may be small, six people at this point in time, but we always provide a big company service.”
Evolve’s client list and track record certainly does speak for itself. Many of the top UK architects and engineers have made use of Evolve’s services, and increasingly that also includes more and more of the forward thinking contractors and clients. Their portfolio extends to the US, Europe, the Middle East and, as Nigel is keen to point out, “A rather wonderful stint in Australia during the volcano troubles back here.” Daniel remembers that well: “I’d just joined the company and Nigel and Karen swan off to a 4-week ‘job’ in Australia.”
Daniel and Nigel split the responsibilities for running the business and managing their customers between them. “We always work to a dual redundancy model,” explains Nigel. “Two people to shadow each other. That way we always have cover and two heads are always better than one, which allows us to grow certain areas of our business organically.”
So what is it Evolve offer exactly? “Whatever you need,” says Daniel. “Digital technology forms the basis of everything we do now,” he continues. “As it says in our company profile: Software alone, regardless of how many experts are employed, is of little value if confidence is lacking in the ability for it to deliver what is needed on a project. We always consider the human aspect of any solution at all levels of staff.
“We try to develop and implement a staged adoption, minimising risk and ensuring that each step of the way is carefully managed and becomes engrained in the company processes before moving on.”
Evolve’s standard offerings can be grouped into three main areas:
“We’re basically extra pairs of hands to solve any issues on your projects or strategically for your business. We’ll typically start with a full review of your systems, processes and aspirations, then work with you to develop the key areas that will give most success making sure your teams understand the implications of the British Standards.”
Evolve say their USP is that they are “totally 100% proactive”. “Don’t expect us to sit around waiting for problems,” says Nigel enthusiastically. “We’ll go all out to find them, even ones you didn’t know you had. We’ll find them, resolve them and get you working better.”
“It’s a big part of our workload,” confirms Daniel, who is responsible for Evolve’s training provision, “and it’s getting bigger. I think as we move into 2016 and the Government mandate, people are starting to wake up to the need for proper education.”
Evolve does not just offer software training, as Daniel explains: “We don’t do three or four days classroom training. We’ve proven time and time again that that approach is inefficient and isn’t the best way to retain knowledge. We concentrate on ‘contextual learning’ – project workshops, giving immediate return.”
A major part of Evolve’s training schedule is now being filled with BIM Workshops. Daniel describes Evolve’s ethos regarding this: “We’re different in the approach we take. We don’t lecture, we hold interactive workshops. No-one knows their role better than the person doing it, so we make sure each and every person can input into the discussion and everyone comes out with a personal development plan for BIM in their company.”
Managed Digital Modelling
Another growing part of Evolve’s offering is the more ‘expected’ BIM project services. But once again, they point out that Evolve’s approach is different. “How many times have you outsourced drawing or modelling work, only to get back something less than you’d hoped?” Nigel asks. “We don’t do outsourcing. We manage the whole project delivery process, whether that’s checking and validation, sitting with your project team to work through design changes and explaining exactly why the building services team are having difficulties with your IFC file, or putting a coordinator onsite full time to deal with the issues others seem to forget.”
Evolve continues to… well, evolve, and look forward to the challenges the next couple of years have to offer. “We’ve got a great team,” says Nigel. “We all love what we do, and we’re privileged to be working with the amazing clients we have. One thing is for sure, we’ll continue doing what we do and continue to grow. Please ask us to do one of these again in five years; we’ll be surprised ourselves how far we will have come!”