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Massive efficiency gains for St John's College, Cambridge

Posted 19th May 2016

St John’s College owns approximately 18,000 acres of agricultural land around England as well as a large and diverse property portfolio encompassing shops, offices, leisure facilities, industrial units, residential properties and ground rents.

Prior to purchasing BlueBox, the St John’s team used a Dolphin system. The primary concern they had with their old system was that it was not Y2K compliant. However it also had a couple of other problems: it was not capable of holding the full range the property data that they required for their portfolio and so a paper filing system had to be run in parallel. This meant that updating and searching for information was very time consuming and involved duplication of effort. Even when the information had been found, the system’s basic reporting functionality meant that outputs from the system were limited.

The team looked at other systems including ECS (Qube) and Manhattan. They compared a number of factors including functionality, flexibility and ease of use. In the end they decided that BlueBox was the best fit for their needs as it covered the full range of their requirements and provided flexibility for growth in the future - without being unnecessarily complex.

"the staff at the college find the system provides a huge time saving benefit"

St John’s College is an owner-occupier as well as a landlord for different parts of its portfolio. The team use BlueBox for all their properties and for the wide range of tasks associated with them. Financial processes include preparation of budgets, rent billing and forecasting the rental income they expect to get in the forthcoming year. They also record repairs and improvements, track rent reviews, store contact details, property descriptions and ERV's and use the Custom Data feature of the system to record very specific aspects of the portfolio such as a house purchase scheme. They make use of the extensive reporting facilities and find the smooth links to Excel a particular bonus.

“Overall the staff at the college find the system provides a huge time saving benefit” said Carol Ingram, Bursar’s Agent for St John’s College. “It also offers us better flexibility and the option of expanding our use of the system in the future.”