Modern facility management combined with smart technology and managed services plays an important role in the achievement of key imperatives for Absa bank, the largest retail banking group in South Africa, namely maximising staff productivity, and encouraging collaboration to drive innovation and effective decision-making.
With numerous regional and branch offices, as well as the Absa Towers head offices in Johannesburg, an important part of the efficiency drive for Absa is its use of the Condeco Office and Facility Space, and Service Management Software, which comes with a managed service component from Kathea.

Condeco brings people together by connecting diaries and resources to create flexible working solutions. It maximises real estate usage by managing room, desk or space bookings, matching needs with available equipment and facilities.

It also streamlines logistics by seamlessly incorporating access to, and co-ordination of related service providers, such as caterers, audio visual equipment provisioning, and integration of intelligent workflow.

The Condeco Managed Service within Absa provides users with a central contact point to book rooms and venues, catering and Video Conferencing (VC) requirements, as well as visitor management and Hot Desk Bookings.

For Absa, who installed Condeco three years ago at its flagship Absa Towers West head office in Johannesburg, the benefits are significant. So much so that as Absa revamps its facilities nationally, Condeco is rolled out along with end-to-end managed services to facilitate use of the Condeco system.

Says Claire Odgers, head: Facilities Management at Absa: “The imperatives for Absa’s Facility Management division are to ensure effective use, management and support of Absa’s facilities. The Condeco software and especially the managed services component that accompanies it are key enablers.

“The managed services team is critical as they understand our drivers and enforce policy within the booking system to help us meet objectives. The facility usage data and other reports provided by the Condeco solution are vital, alerting us to any challenges in terms of demand and supply, and ensuring users know what meeting rooms are available when.”

The Condeco system will be rolled out in Absa’s newly consolidated offices across the country where office space and room booking optimisation and streamlining has been identified. As Absa’s Johannesburg head office facilities at Absa Towers North and Absa Towers Main are refurbished, the meeting rooms and other bookable facilities are being added to the Condeco system.

This will see another six floors within Absa Towers North and 28 floors in Absa Towers Main meeting rooms integrated into the system. This will increase usage significantly.

Says David Sales, head: Product Management at Kathea: “Condeco is really the gold standard in meeting room booking software among large corporates. The software is also currently deployed by a number of large organisations in South Africa, the majority of which makes use of the accompanying managed services offered by Kathea.

“Usage of shared boardroom, meeting room and conferencing facilities has risen sharply within a short space of time wherever Condeco is deployed. It makes organising and co-ordinating meetings, parking and desk space easy, cutting back on time and effort, and letting staff get on with the bank’s core business.

“An organisation’s use of office space contribute largely to its running costs so maximising facility usage is vital if these companies are to fully realise the benefits of their investments. Condeco and the accompanying managed service provided by Kathea, makes these facilities – and related equipment and the technical services to set them up and run them – more accessible.”

Detailed reporting provided by Condeco gives the organisation insight into actual human behaviour including facility usage statistics, how often office spaces are used as well as facility equipment and service utilisation trends.

This can be particularly useful where accurately billing the time of individuals is important, or where usage needs to be allocated to a cost centre. Condeco’s reporting assists the organisation to analyse the usage of offices, helping to demonstrate Return On Investment (ROI) of TVs. Projectors, digital white boards and other equipment.

“These reports also allow us to continually refine facilities and access to equipment to better suit Absa’s needs. At the same time, we are able to enter business rules determined by company policy into the booking system to increase the control of equipment and facility use, as well as manage the use of related services,” adds Sales.

Francois Kotze heads up video conferencing management for Absa. His team works closely with the Condeco Managed Services team from Kathea.

“Before we had Condeco, the booking and set up of video conferencing sessions was managed via Microsoft Outlook. Condeco gives us a single view of all our bookings, with auto approval facilitating bookings for users against our policy requirements. The system enables us to appropriately allocate support and adjust workloads of staff as needed.”

The video conferencing technical team sets up the communication bridges needed to enable video conferencing calls between the various parties. The team manages approximately 25 video conferencing sessions a day, across 41 video conferencing rooms.

Since the Condeco booking system is policy driven – that is, organisational policies determine the parameters of service – demand and supply can be well managed.

A key example is reservation of video conferencing equipment and rooms’ 24-hours prior to the event to ensure connectivity and the related technical details are in order. The needs of suppliers who are linked to the system (for example, a caterer who needs 24 hours’ notice to deliver refreshments), are also part of policy management.

“Video conferencing sessions have over the last three years increased by about 300% as the technology has improved,” notes Kotze. “While it’s the marketing around rich media that drives the use of video conferencing, it’s the Condeco system that makes it easy to do.”

The Condeco managed service offering of Kathea ties it all together. Says Sales: “The managed service we offer is not just about implementing, commissioning and maintaining the software, or providing training and technical support to enable use of the system; we support the business in its daily operations, helping it to improve its performance.

“We help the organisation to optimise the benefits Condeco can deliver by assisting it to define and introduce business rules to streamline facility use and optimise logistics. We also assist with the definition of reports, the adding of menus to the system interface, and the management of users and suppliers linked to the system.

“We help users to book rooms or make arrangements where exceptions to business rules arise, and we alert relevant staff when capacity constraints and other issues arise that can impact the business. Our managed services approach has allowed the Condeco room and desk booking system to grow with the business.”

Initially implemented at the flagship Absa Towers West, the Condeco software has now been installed in 15 Absa facilities across Gauteng, and six more in other regions. More than 500 conference rooms serving more than 5 000 users are managed through the integrated Condeco system, which is accessible to all regional Absa branches.

Notes Sales: “To put the services Condeco provides into context, it’s helpful to understand that Absa Towers West alone has almost 300 rooms which can be booked by its 2 000 occupants. More than 15 000 meetings take place in these rooms every month.

“One clear cut Absa policy is that video conferencing is preferable to travel. As a result, between 200 and 300 video conferences take place every month in the 25 available video conferencing rooms in the facility.

“In just one month, the Condeco software together with the managed service from Kathea assisted to facilitate 1620 requests for audio visual equipment, catering and other services, all of which are managed through the Condeco system.”

Says Sales: “The Condeco solution – the software and the managed service – work together, integrating all technology in a building and adding the high level optimisation capabilities and soft skills needed to improve the user booking experience.”

Installation of the software is a cinch as its all Microsoft based, it is not resource intensive and the interface is intuitive so booking time or space is simply done by users via Outlook or Google Chrome.