Periods of rapid expansion can test the internal processes of any business. Wide format print leader, Macroart, is no exception. In June of this year, they revealed that they have almost doubled turnover from £6 million to £11 million since their management buyout four years ago.
Michael Green, commercial director at Macroart, attributes some of this growth to their solid reputation, “We’re winning a lot of work at the moment due to word of mouth and good recommendations. It’s all down to our great team.”
This growth, combined with a plethora of other large projects in the pipeline, prompted Richard Starr (Head of Projects) to start looking into scalable, reliable project management systems to help maintain their high standards as they grow.
“We were looking at applications and systems to allow us to manage the installations side of the business and get better control over the way we manage and control information,” he said.
Unfortunately, his findings didn’t offer a good enough fit for the business’ needs. Macroart required something new and completely different.
The opportunity to pioneer new software soon presented itself. Dan Tyler, founder of installations project management platform Vism, reached out to Macroart with an offer to collaborate on development of a new platform which could be tailored to them.
“I’ve known Dan for a while and always found him to be very knowledgeable on the industry,” Michael said. “When he started talking about [Vism], I obviously gave it a lot of attention. It’s not often that he comes up with something that’s not worth listening to.”
“Managing installations across multiple jobs and multiple projects is a headache for any business that does what we do, and we do an awful lot of installations. Anything that simplifies that and makes it more accountable is a win for us,” he added.
When it comes to quality control and job execution, Macroart are nothing if not fastidious—it’s what their reputation is founded on. Selecting the right platform would be fundamental in their ability to maintain a high standard.
“Managed projects are where our growth is, so it’s really important to keep track of that. To be able to monitor the quality [of a job] is crucial. If you fall down on quality, there are no second chances,” Michael said.
Dan’s 5-year history in large format print and signage recruitment gave him a unique, multi-angled insight into industry processes and the problems therein. He wanted Vism to take a completely different approach, starting with the end user and working backwards from there.
“Installation jobs are so complex, with so many moving parts, that managing them can sometimes feel impossible. It’s prompting people to move away from old-fashioned processes and try new systems instead,” Dan says.
“When companies try new project management software, they usually find that there’s something missing—be it key features or the structure of the software itself. They are trying to work with pre-defined tools that they have to fit their business to, rather than using something which is built for their needs.
“In response, we’ve created something that could be tailored enough for a business to work its way around but robust enough to encourage consistency and raise standards for everyone”, he said. As a company that explored various options and felt these pains, Macroart were excited by Dan’s approach and started working with him to tailor Vism.
“What’s good about Vism is the fact that Dan didn’t come to us and say, ‘here’s a system, work your business around it’. By continuing to collaborate with him on the development of the platform, it keeps evolving. In our own business, we’re always looking to improve things, so this approach feels very natural for us,” Michael said.
“I’ve worked with Macroart for a number of years—I’ve hired for their teams, so I understand how they work. I knew they’d be the perfect company to pioneer the platform,” Dan said. “[Michael] invited me to look around the Macroart office and get a feel for everything they’d been working on. He’s always been collaborative and open. All of that made me feel that they’d give good insight when developing something for the industry.”
The Vism platform launched earlier this year and is already being used by Macroart, as well as various other graphics, signage and installation companies across the UK, with freelance installers currently joining by invitation.
Macroart have predicted that Vism will help them manage their growth in two main ways. “It will reduce admin and time spent communicating with installation teams”, Richard says. “[Vism] has a centralised system, which allows us to share information and the sign-off process with installers. At the moment, this is very long winded.”
The new project management software couldn’t have come at a better time. Macroart have made significant investment over the last 18 months, including the acquisition of fabrication business Aluvista and the expansion of their Cambridge HQ.
With more opportunity for expansion on the horizon, they plan to continue to rely on the Vism platform as a way to support growth and maintain quality. In turn, Vism will continue to collaborate with Macroart, transforming feedback into new functionality which will see the platform grow and improve.