Catlin Group Case Study

CAFM Explorer: Insuring world-class FM performance

Catlin Group
Key Facts & Benefits:

The client’s FM operation

Despite its size, the organisation has a small internal facilities management team, run from its London office, headed up by Myles Ruffy, Group Property Director, and James Stratford, Group Head of Property Operations. The FM function comprises 10 people split into two teams: day-to-day operations, and projects, such as fit-outs and refurbishments. Eight facilities people are based in London, with one in Zurich and one in the US. The remainder of the sizeable FM operation is outsourced. More than 35 people deliver catering in the UK, from silver service occasions to meeting room hospitality, while there is a team of 14 cleaning staff, four maintenance engineers and around 200 other long-standing relationships with suppliers to support the 2,500 Catlin people across the globe, 1,100 of whom are based in the UK.

The FM team manages 600,000 sq ft of space around the world, with 170,000 sq ft in the UK. Its operations are organised into six regional underwriting hubs: UK (four offices), Europe (17 offices), US (18 offices), Canada (four offices), Bermuda (one site) and Asia Pacific (nine offices). All of the buildings are leased, rather than owned. Each hub is responsible for its own business plan and day-to-day operations, but in the past year, facilities management has been centralised under the FM team based in London.

The move towards a global approach to FM started three years ago, when the organisation moved into its new London office, explains James Stratford. “We introduced a global standards guide about how offices should be run, which was based on our experiences of the London refurbishment project. While the aim isn’t to be completely prescriptive, we wanted to create a manual of what a Catlin office should look and feel like, and how it should be run.” The challenge for the FM team is to resource the offices overseas, as there isn’t an FM presence on every site. “We don’t want underwriters trying to fix the lights,” explains Stratford, who overnight went from managing four UK sites to 60 offices worldwide, with only two extra members of staff.

The role of CAFM Explorer

The key to the success of this global approach to FM, has been the introduction of McLaren’s CAFM Explorer software package, which the company purchased in 2010. Prior to that the organisation used spreadsheets to store its facilities data. “At that time, we were doubling the size of the UK portfolio and talking about taking on responsibility for the global portfolio, so we needed to run our facilities in a more efficient and effective manner. CAFM Explorer was key to that evolution,” he explains.

Catlin chose the product after researching the FM software market, because of its flexibility and the level of support offered by the McLaren team.

Initially Stratford used CAFM Explorer as a document storage tool but over the past couple of years, since the new London site has come on line, the FM team has increased its use of the product’s functionality. Catlin now uses the help desk function to manage reactive and planned work orders; the asset register to record and manage assets; the planned maintenance capability to manage statutory compliance and routine maintenance; the budget function to track expenditure within group operations; the projects section to track expenditure and the progress of new office set ups throughout the world; contracts start, end and renewal dates are stored in the contracts function; while the space management function using CAFMCAD is crucial for the organisation’s ongoing expansion; and the report tool is used to produce the numerous detailed reports required by the business.

The benefits of CAFM Explorer

Since the introduction of CAFM Explorer, the number of helpdesk calls every month has risen from around 280 to 800. In reality, the numbers haven’t risen, says Stratford. “It’s just that we’ve got better at recording them because we have a tool that does it automatically. In the past, people within the business knew individual people within the FM function and would call them when there was a problem. We would then inform the relevant contractor and they would fix the issue. Often none of that information would have been recorded. Now, thanks to CAFM Explorer we can accurately record what we do every day.” The calls feed into work orders which are also automatically recorded on the system, rather than done in an ad hoc manner.

The key benefit from CAFM Explorer to date is improved response times and better data for the business, both of which have improved the reputation of the facilities function within Catlin. “Rather than our internal customers waiting for an individual to get back to them, the central service means they get an immediate response and the issue is dealt with straightaway. The system also tracks every facilities job, so we have exact data about everything we do, which helps to demonstrate the key role we play in the business. There’s a lot involved in business as usual in FM.”

The tool manages 4,500 assets in the UK alone from chairs and desks, to computers and servers to chillers and boilers. Each asset is tagged using a barcoding system, and positioned on CAFM Explorer’s floorplans. Maintenance engineers scan the device and can see a real-time picture of the asset’s maintenance programme and performance. “It has allowed us to create better planned preventative maintenance schedules, and react quicker when a problem arises. For example, in the past we may have repaired an asset five or six times in a year and not realised there was a problem. CAFM Explorer records all that data and would flag up that the asset was not performing as expected. It also allows us to record depreciation more accurately.”

The reporting capability is also excellent, says Stratford. “We have a suite of around 200 reports that we can tailor for the audience. My boss might want 50 per cent of the picture, his boss just 10 per cent. We can create bespoke reports at the touch of a button which has saved an enormous amount of time and effort for the facilities team.”

Catlin relies heavily on the support of McLaren’s own consultant who work closely with them to expand the use of CAFM Explorer throughout all of the Catlin offices worldwide.

“The key benefit from CAFM Explorer to date is improved response times and better data for the business, both of which have improved the reputation of the facilities function within Catlin”

James Stratford
Group Head of Property Operations - Catlin

“The support McLaren’s team provides on-site is also extremely beneficial. Indeed one of their consultants spends between one and two days a week on site to assist us with polylining & system administration the CAFM Explorer database” says James Stratford.

Plans for increasing the use of CAFM Explorer

Currently, FM sits as an overhead within the business, roughly apportioned by function. Through CAFM Explorer, Stratford is working on a show-back model to demonstrate the cost per sq ft, using data such as rent, rates, utilities, hospitality, cleaning, and maintenance costs, in different locations. “This will allow the business to better understand the cost of hiring more people, say in London, compared to in Singapore, and make strategic decisions accordingly. Because we work in financial services, data and financial figures are a key way of getting our message across to the senior leaders and CAFM Explorer enables us to do that. People love data – right down to stats like the number of cups of coffee we serve in the London office every day.”

CAFM Explorer is integrated with Catlin’s HR and finance tools and Stratford is working to mine the data even further. “Using records such as meeting room use, training costs, expenses etc, I want to be able to demonstrate the cost of individual people to the business. CAFM Explorer is allowing us to move away from a traditional view of cost, and focus on value.”

Catlin has rolled out CAFM Explorer within the UK, and is in the process of introducing it to the Zurich office. The Facilities team in London have introduced a global steering group with a wide remit, one of these is using CAFM around all our sites – the 18 US offices are next on the agenda. “Our aim is that we can monitor the entire portfolio from London. If you work in a small satellite office where there is no permanent facilities staff, then you can inform us of any issues through the helpdesk, and we automatically assign the job to the most relevant local contractor on the ground. It will enable us to have a global picture of the facilities issues and how assets are performing.”

He is also keen to have a global picture of Catlin’s use of space through CAFM Explorer’s space management tool. Once the tool is rolled out internationally, Stratford will be able to map the space usage in every site and assess how efficiently that space is used. “It will allow us to be more proactive, to suggest changes in real estate when the data demonstrates that the space is being under-used, or is at capacity. For example, the business might want to expand one location, but we could point out that there is a building 20 miles away that is at 30 per cent capacity. We can plan ahead to ensure we have the optimum space for Catlin.”

“Rather than our internal customers waiting for an individual to get back to them, the central service means they get an immediate response and the issue is dealt with straightaway”

James Stratford
Group Head of Property Operations - Catlin


Catlin Group
Catlin Group is a global insurance and reinsurance company with 60 offices in 21 countries across the globe, underwriting more than 30 classes of commercial insurance coverage. It owns the largest syndicate at Lloyd’s of London and has reported 10 per cent year-on-year growth for several years. The company started life as a small London-based underwriting agency, set up 30 years ago by Stephen Catlin, who remains its CEO.