Category: General

Team Spotlight – Amy Hollier, Internal Recruiter

In this month’s team spotlight we sit down with Amy Hollier, who recently joined the EPM Group as our Internal Recruiter.

How would you describe a typical day in the life of an Internal Recruiter?

Any recruiter will agree that recruitment is a rollercoaster, you have to be able to roll with the punches, but this is what keeps me going, no two days are the same!

How does your role contribute to the company’s overall success?

I think people are at the heart of any business. Recruiting the right people is pivotal to success. If we have the right people and they are happy doing their jobs, the world is our oyster.

What do you most enjoy about working at EPM / Omnibus?

I am enjoying the challenge, it’s very busy but I enjoy that part. I also love working with all the different teams and senior management. Everyone is so helpful and supportive, so I have a big thank you to say to a lot of people who have made me very welcome.

What is the biggest achievement of your EPM / Omnibus career?

I think for me, my biggest achievement is the relationships I have built with hiring managers and the wider team. I feel that we have managed to work well together and got things moving quickly. It was important to me to be able to come in and have an impact on the business.

As we continue to expand the team, what advice do you have for someone joining the team?

I would say invest in spending time with key teams or people. There are so many knowledgeable people here and everyone really wants to help so take advantage of that and take in all you can.

How do you anticipate the industry may change over the coming years?

I think it’s fair to say the industry is evolving and always becoming more technologically and digitally advanced. Great news for us as this is what we are here to do! I also think there will be more environmental focus with everyone making a conscious effort to be greener.

Outside of work, how do you spend your spare time?

Honestly, my favourite pastime is eating out which also means I have to enjoy working out (I am still working on enjoying that as much though). I am also very family oriented so enjoy spending lots of time with them.

Who is the person who inspires you most?

My daughter, she inspires me to be the best I can be every day.

Tell us a random fact about you – the silliest, most daring or spontaneous thing you have ever done you’ve ever done is?

I will be honest, this is a difficult one for me as generally, I am a very sensible person (boring I know). My mum would probably say the silliest thing I ever did was dye my hair bright purple and pink when I was 27 but to be honest, I loved it, so the style stayed for a good 12 months.

Interested in a role in transport management?

Team Spotlight – Tom Birkin, Product Owner

In this month’s team spotlight we sit down with Product Owner, Tom Birkin, who has worked for EPM for 5 years, working with clients to optimise the use of technology to solve their operational issues.

Tom Birkin Product Owner

How would you describe a typical day in the life of a Product Owner?

There isn’t really a typical day as I have the opportunity to work on a lot of different projects! I get the pleasure of speaking with our customers to discuss their day to day problems and work with them to utilise new technologies to provide solutions that will resolve those issues! It’s an incredibly satisfying feeling to see a product develop from an idea to a finish product. If I had to sum it up I’d say there is a lot of talking, thinking and most importantly, listening!

How does your role contribute to the company’s overall success?

It’s an important role to listen and understand the needs of our customers and to be a step ahead of the competition to provide market leading software solutions that provide insight and solutions to the issues that they are experiencing.

What do you most enjoy about working at EPM/Omni?

My favourite things about working at EPM/Omni are the people I work with and the opportunity to leverage my experiences in my previous roles to drive the technology for our customers, whilst also continuing the develop new skills.

What is the biggest achievement of your EPM/Omni career?

Becoming Product Owner – cliché, I know!

As we continue to expand the team, what advice do you have for someone joining the team?

Most importantly, be yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help/questions! I’d also encourage you to venture out of your comfort zone.

How do you anticipate the industry may change over the coming years?

There is a lot of government investment going into the industry and I think that, paired with the innovation in technology is driving a big changes. The introduction of multi-Operator Tap-On-Tap-Off ticketing will change the way that we travel and make travel a lot more convenient. There is already a emphasis on EV fleet at the moment and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon but what I’m most excited about is automated vehicles – just not any from SkyNet!

Outside of work, how do you spend your spare time?

Before / during lockdown you’d usually find me at home on my PC but nowadays I try to be a lot more active and outside!

Who is the person who inspires you most?

I’d have to say my parents which feels like a really cheesy answer! If I have to choose one then my Dad. Sorry Mom!

Tell us a random fact about you – the silliest, most daring or spontaneous thing you have ever done you’ve ever done is?

I’m a triplet and I once accidentally ran through a glass door.

Interested in a role in transport management?

David Brown joins the Board of EPM Transport Solutions

20 April 2022 – EPM Transport Solutions announces David Brown has joined the Board as a Non-Executive Director.

With 40 years of his career spent working in the passenger transport sector, David brings a vast amount of knowledge and experience to EPM Transport Solutions. Most recently David was CEO at The Go-Ahead Group retiring in the Autumn of 2021 after 10 years leading the business.

As Non-Executive Director, David will be supporting the strategic development of the Group. He will be working with the Executive Team to identify opportunities for new solutions to address emerging challenges across the Transport Sector.

Ian Churchill, Chief Executive at EPM Transport Solutions, said: “I am excited that David has agreed to join the team. With his wealth of experience of the passenger transport sector, he will be invaluable in developing our portfolio of businesses to achieve our growth plans. His passion for innovation and transport is a natural fit with our organisation and I look forward to working together.”

David Brown commented: “I am delighted to have joined EPM Transport Solutions at this exciting point in the development of the business. The Group has developed an extensive portfolio of solutions which underpin the delivery of transport services on a daily basis. I am looking forward to working with Ian and the team in the development of solutions to further assist the industry in the delivery of high quality services.”

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Note to Editors:

EPM Transport Solutions, formed in 1986, provides software to help passenger transport operators and transport authorities reduce operational costs, improve financial performance and better serve their customers. In addition, EPM is the UK’s leading BSOG auditor and concessionary reimbursement consultancy.

EPM Transport Solutions trades as EPM Bus Solutions, Omnibus Solutions and 3Squared.

Omnibus Solutions: omnibus.solutions
3 Squared: 3squared.com

Press contact:

Harminder Sangha
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
07538 935 568

We are exhibiting at the ALBUM Conference 2022

Join us, EPM and Omnibus, on 26th & 27th April 2022 at Village Hotel Blackpool for ALBUM Conference 2022.

Focusing on the collective challenge to modernise, decarbonise and digitalise to grow faster in the bus sector, ALBUM Conference features an exciting line-up of key speakers and offers a chance to network with industry colleagues.

Visit us on stand 31 in the main conference room and speak to Software Director, Nick Brookes; BSOG Director, Mat Hanlon; Account Manager, Penny Johnson; and Omnibus’ Founder, Peter Crichton and Product Owner, Aiden Proctor on the latest passenger transport software to increase commercial, financial, and operational performance; from scheduling, to staff rostering, depot allocation and timetabling.

RSVP: Book your tickets

Visit the website: ALBUM Conference

Address:

Village Hotel Blackpool
E Park Dr
Blackpool
FY3 8LL

ALBUM Conference 2022

26th & 27th April

Village Hotel Blackpool

Employee Spotlight – Lindsay Brown, Senior Auditor

In this month’s employee spotlight we sit down with Senior Auditor, Lindsay Brown who has worked for EPM for over 21 years and has a vast knowledge of the BSOG scheme and business process improvement.

How would your family or friends describe you in three words?

I asked my friends and didn’t get a sensible answer. I think that says a lot.

What is your favourite thing about working at EPM?

The people – both my colleagues and clients. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, which makes such a positive difference to my working life.

What would you do career-wise if you were not working as a Senior Auditor?

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those lucky people who always knew what they wanted to do – I was very fortunate to get the job at EPM, but it wasn’t my dream to be an auditor. I’ve only ever thought about two jobs I’d like to do – owning a B&B or working on the checkout at a supermarket. The latter is my aim for retirement!

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Most people know everything there is to know.

Do you have a favourite book?

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. It’s quite a short story about a seagull who is outcast by his family and friends as he sees there is more to life than constantly searching for food and shelter – he enjoys flying and soaring the cliffs for fun. It’s a beautiful book and a good reminder that there’s more to life than the mundane.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Britpop and cheesy pop take me back to good times at school and Uni and make up the majority of my playlist. But I’ll listen to pretty much anything.

What was the first pet you ever had?

I’ve never had any pets as my older brother is very allergic to anything not human. The closest I’ve come is my ex-housemate’s gerbils and my partner’s marine fish. I always wanted a tortoise though (I blame Blue Peter!).

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I haven’t travelled extensively, but the two places I could see myself living are Barcelona and Reykjavik – I would love to go back.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Probably renovating my house with my partner. What started out as a 6-month re-wire and re-decorate turned into completely gutting it and 4 years of very hard work.

What’s the best and worst things you’ve eaten?

The worst is definitely cucumber. I can’t stand the stuff! As for the best; my mum’s cheese-on-toast. I don’t know what she does, but I can’t replicate it. It’s amazing!

What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekends?

Seeing family and friends or going somewhere in the caravan with my partner.

How do you think the industry will change in 10 years?

I think advancements in technology will massively change the industry, ranging from zero-emission or autonomous buses to the availability of more detailed analytical data.

Read the previous Employee Spotlight with Service Desk Manager, Olly Gough. 

Experts in Transport Management

Making the bus operation chain more efficient

EPM Group aiming to empower bus operators to deliver efficiency improvements with the very latest software

Since March 2020 we have all experienced big changes in the way we live, work, shop and play. And public transport is not immune to those wider societal changes, many of which were already established trends before the pandemic. But Covid has only greatly accelerated that process.

Meanwhile, the launch of England’s National Bus Strategy, plus changes to funding mechanisms and industry structure across the wider UK mean bus operators will need to embrace change now more than ever.

Article featured in special edition UK Bus and Coach January 2022 by Passenger Transport

The bus sector is working harder than ever to get people back on the bus while adapting to the so-called ‘new normal’. Behind the scenes, operators are striving to address the challenges of supply and demand and tailoring their networks accordingly, but those structural changes and financial challenges mean operators must also adapt and embrace new ways of working and tailor processes to ensure their businesses are as efficient as possible.

Just under 12 months ago two big names in the world of passenger transport software came together with the purchase by EPM Bus Solutions of leading supplier Omnibus. Bringing these two businesses together offers many natural synergies, but now they are hoping to spark a revolution for bus operators that will help them streamline their operations and business processes and help make them ready for the post-Covid era.

Natural partners

Aiden Proctor, Omnibus’s scheduling suite product owner, takes up the story.

Aiden Proctor“A bus operator is a very complex machine,” he says. “There are a lot of moving parts and there’s a lot of activity taking place to ensure the service is delivered to the passenger. We like to think of those processes that got the bus to the bus stop as a chain, a chain that runs right through the organisation and one that brings together a variety of processes.”

That chain commences when the operator begins planning the shape of their network, perhaps that process may commence with some market research activity or probing historical bus patronage data. It enables the commercial team to configure a network that provides the very best service possible to the passenger.

Aiden continues: “Once that’s in place you can move onto the timetables, then the schedules, driver duties and rotas. By that stage, you’re getting to the point where you need to put drivers onto vehicles and so you’re at the forward allocation process. Then you’re finally at the day of operation and you’re opening the doors of the depot and putting the service out on the road.”

And it is here that many of the solutions that have been developed by EPM take over with platforms that allow control room staff to log day-to-day incidents like accidents, unexpected traffic congestion or bad weather. That process continues beyond the end of the day when the service has been delivered. EPM’s solutions allow operators to determine ‘how well did we do?’ with reporting on patronage, profitability, fuel consumption, customer feedback and reliability. That continues with BSOG calculations and contractual reporting to Local Transport Authorities (LTAs). Aiden says it means there’s quite a complex chain of events going on and each and every link in that chain needs to be managed effectively.

“Obviously with the current climate off the back of Covid, there’s a lot of pressure on operating costs and revenue,” he says. “It’s more important than ever that operators have the most efficient service they possibly can.”

Enhancing service quality and efficiency

He says there are two parts to that process. Firstly, ensuring the service delivered is one that is of very high quality and that it encourages passengers to use it and, ultimately, grow patronage. Secondly, this must be undertaken in the most efficient way possible.

“Those two things are pretty intertwined,” says Aiden. “It gives a good idea of how effective the bus operation is. Quite often that process starts with a high-level dashboard of KPIs containing the obvious things like patronage and revenue through to profitability, engineering quality and customer feedback. This got us thinking – how can we help operators really understand how effective and, in particular, efficient their organisation is?”

EPM began to look at the range of KPIs that the typical bus operator wishes to understand from that chain of events. It helps that that entire chain is for the most part covered by processes that require input from the two companies’ software suite. From the Omnibus products that cover scheduling, rostering, crew duties and depot allocation to the EPM processes that gather the operational data and help operators to understand the revenue, profitability and customer service aspects of networks.

“So, we have most of the data to hand, which we can supplement with some third party data,” adds Aiden. “We began thinking about each individual link and how we can make it as efficient as it can possibly be.”

That process has been split into three broad areas: before the day – covering duties, scheduling and forward allocation; on the day – covering running the service and control room processes; and after the day – where the performance of the service is reviewed.

Assisting control room staff

From these broad areas, the processes are subdivided further by examining what can be measured, exploring the data that is required to improve efficiency further and the KPIs needed to make that process a reality. Meanwhile, the team began exploring how the solutions offered by both EPM and Omnibus can be embedded even further to ensure even more efficiency.

Nick Brookes, EPM’s software director, highlights one area where these moves to improve efficiency could bear fruit.

Nick Brookes“We’ve been looking closely at control room processes,” he reveals. “Traditionally the Omnibus schedules would be imported into the EPM system to give the control room the information about what is planned to operate that day. The EPM system is then used to record the incidents that will inevitably occur throughout the day, so, for example, breakdowns, traffic congestion or accidents that will inevitably have an impact on the service that is actually delivered.”

Nick says there are opportunities to bring together the two systems in a way that give control room staff the very best opportunity to make improvements in real-time. For example, there may be a driver who is delayed by traffic congestion in the first half of their duty, so the control room staff may need to extend their break period before they go back onto the road for their planned second half in order to ensure they meet legal or local requirements.

He continues: “That leads to a problem you have to solve immediately. Traditionally control room staff would have had to switch between different systems in order to determine what spare drivers are available to cover the work. You may also need to see what was planned for the driver to do for the rest of the day so you can devise a plan to solve the problem. What we want to do is to pull all of that data, bring it together in one place and give control room staff the tools to efficiently solve the problem.

“Ultimately, it’s a puzzle and at the moment they are having to use lots of different systems in different places to gather up the information they need to solve the problems that are in front of them. That’s not a particularly efficient way of working.”

Nick adds that once the problem is solved, there are a variety of people located downstream that need to be informed about the changes the control room staff have made in order to ensure as robust a service as possible is delivered on the ground. This could be the engineering department, customer services and certainly both the drivers and passengers are going to need to be informed.

“It’s about sharing and passing information throughout the organisation rather than people having to resort to phone calls and emails,” he says. “These are quite time-critical decisions that need to be made and people in that sort of environment don’t have the time to spend ringing up lots of people to tell them what’s happening; they just need to put the information into one place and from there, everyone is informed about what’s happening.”

Customer-informed process

And EPM is working closely with customers during this process. Nick reveals he has recently spent time in bus operator control rooms in a bid to understand the processes that could be improved. As he notes, it is far better to see these processes in action rather than as a theoretical exercise.

“I’ve been to three or four sites so far and I’m keen to get out to a couple more, just so I can discover where the pressure points are where we can make some serious productivity and efficiency gains by bringing systems together,” he says.

eBook – Building an efficient bus operation in today’s world

These are times of rapid and unpredictable change for bus operators. Running a bus network in a pandemic while addressing the issues of driver shortages, road congestion and the need to plan for decarbonisation is challenging.

To thrive in a changing world, bus operations need to be as efficient as possible. This eBook provides a guide on how to build a sustainable operation.

A bus operation is a complex chain made up of many links which fall into three broad categories: planning the network, delivering the service and performance review. 

To achieve optimum efficiency, each link needs to work in harmony with the others. The difficulty is that maximising the efficiency of one link can have a negative impact on another. 

Discover how bus operators can get this balance right and be ready for whatever the future holds.

Download ebook, complete details below:

Merseytravel selects Omnibus cloud-based scheduling solution

12 Jan 2022 – Merseytravel has extended its software partnership with EPM Group (EPM and Omnibus) through the adoption of the Omnibus cloud-based scheduling suite.

Omnibus’s solution provides users with a range of flexible and easy-to-use tools aimed at improving efficiency and reducing the margin for error when timetabling and scheduling and is accessible from any location.

Jeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at Merseytravel

Merseytravel is the transport delivery arm of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and has previously worked with EPM Group on the deployment of contract management solution, ETM DAS to monitor the performance of tendered routes in a central hub – reducing administration time and providing data to make cost-effective decisions. In addition, Merseytravel also implemented the interactive analytics platform, EPM Insights which offers strategic insight through real-time management information and dashboards.

The scheduling suite integrates seamlessly with both products, removing the need for manual entry of timetables when preparing to issue a new tender. Timetables and scheduling data is then fed into EPM Insights for visual reporting and analysis.

The Omnibus TransXchange viewer tools can also be utilised to review submissions from operators to ensure compliance with the tender specification, making this process as efficient as possible when dealing with multiple tender submissions.

Jeanette Townson, Bus Development Manager at Merseytravel said: “The implementation of Omnibus scheduling suite will help streamline and increase the efficiency of the tendering process by removing the need for manual data entry.

Previously this process involved creating timetables in Microsoft Word and Excel which was time consuming and difficult to update. The integration of the products and automation capabilities will help ensure data quality and provide significant time savings – freeing up valuable resources to focus on other priorities.”

Ian Churchill, CEO at EPM Group said: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Merseytravel, and this new integration is testament to the software’s capabilities as well as the value which is achieved with the two businesses, EPM and Omnibus, working together. Driving efficiency is the key goal behind our software solutions and we are committed to helping Transport Authorities improve the effectiveness of their organisation and the success of their networks.”

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Press contact at EPM Group: Harmi Sangha, Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com

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Employee Spotlight – Olly Gough, Service Desk Manager

In this month’s employee spotlight we sit down with Service Desk Manager, Olly Gough who has worked for EPM for 14 years, providing high levels of service to customers and is a self-confessed bus geek and problem solver.

What is a day in the life of a Service Desk Manager like?

Fast-paced and never boring; no two days are the same. I have a lot of internal and client meetings and do a lot of data analysis to look for recurring issues and trends. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by a brilliant team who regularly go above and beyond which makes my life a lot easier.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I’ve done a few things I’m proud of – I have a Masters degree from Bangor Uni, I also recently helped my Mum to relocate to a new city and find accommodation she loves but that also meets her needs. But I’d say my biggest achievement is that one of my nieces, who’s 12, told me she thinks I’m cool!

What is one hobby you would like to pick up? 

There are loads of things I’d like to try. I played rugby until a couple of years ago and would definitely pick that back up again if I had the time. I miss being part of a team (outside of work) and the social side, I don’t miss the bruises and pulled muscles. Otherwise, I’d love to be able to play any musical instrument really well.

When you are not working, what are you up to? 

I don’t have an awful lot of spare time but when I do I like spending time with my family – I have 9 nieces and 2 nephews so a lot of them to get around! I like cooking, trying out new restaurants and pubs with friends, and exploring the local parks with my partner and my Mum.

Where is your favourite place to go on holiday?

Iceland which was just incredible, or Ibiza – every time I’ve been, I’ve immediately booked my next trip out there.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, 2 cats. Molly who is everything you’d expect a cat to be, elegant, stand-offish and completely disinterested which just makes me want her attention even more; and Wilf whom we call Badger because personality wise, he’s closer to a Badger or a dog than a cat. Both are absolutely ruthless, so we get a lot of presents!

If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

That sounds awful! I guess I’d probably pick anything by Faithless, or Loud Places by Jamie XX as they’re probably the most played songs on my playlist.

Do you have a favourite film?

Jaws 100%, I’ve watched it a million times and I never get bored.

What’s a secret talent that no one knows about?

I used to be a decorator so I’m not bad at painting and wallpapering. Essentially what that means is that I sometimes get support calls outside of work hours from those friends who do know this, and are having a decorating crisis.

If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Any scientist from a couple of hundred years ago – I think it’s crazy that a lot of them used to test out theories on themselves out of necessity, so they sound like an interesting bunch. Failing that, Stephen Hawking – I have a lot of questions and that definitely appeals to my geeky sense of curiosity.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

My partner and I went to a Suede concert recently which was brilliant so we’re listening to a lot of their stuff at the moment. Also, Faithless and Jamie XX.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who’s just started their career?

I’m not sure I’m in a position to advise anyone on that, but I think having a good work ethic is important. Treat people well and support the team around you, and definitely try to have a good work-life balance.

 

Read last month’s Employee Spotlight with Consulting Director, Jon Anton

Experts in Transport Management

EPM Group completes 3Squared acquisition

21 Oct 2021 – EPM Group has today, with the support of Literacy Capital, completed the acquisition of one of the UK’s leading transport software businesses, 3Squared Ltd.

The strategic acquisition sees EPM further strengthen its capability in providing high quality software solutions across the transport sector, focussed on improving operational and commercial performance.

(L-R) EPM Group - Ian Churchill, Chief Executive, 3Squared - James Fox, Co-Founder; Emma Marshall, Operations Director; Jonny Farmer, New Technical Director and Tim Jones, Co-Founder

3Squared is a Queen’s Award-winning digital solutions provider to the rail industry with a mission to enable the transportation sector to become safer, greener and more efficient through digitalisation.  Its flagship RailSmart suite of software applications continues to positively disrupt the rail sector as more passenger, freight operating companies, and suppliers to the rail industry use the software to increase productivity whilst reducing risk and cost.

EPM, formed in 1986, provides software to help bus operators and transport authorities reduce operational costs, improve financial performance and better serve their customers.  In addition, EPM is the UK’s leading BSOG auditor and concessionary reimbursement consultancy.

Ian Churchill, CEO at EPM, said: “The acquisition of 3Squared will support our focus on integrated transport whilst diversifying our activities into the rail sector.  We are excited by the opportunity this brings to deliver new solutions to common challenges across the bus and rail sectors.”

Tim Jones and James Fox, co-founders of 3Squared, said: “We are incredibly proud of the achievements of 3Squared over the last two decades. With the support of EPM, we are now ideally placed to accelerate our growth and further cement our position as a leading provider of integrated transportation solutions.  We are looking forward to working with the EPM team on this exciting next chapter.”

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3Squared: https://3squared.com/

Press contact at EPM Group

Harminder Sangha
Harminder.sangha@epm-bus.com
07538 935 568