The Cloud Transformation experience at Norse Consulting

Improving data management and implementing digital workflows—through cloud transformation—are very much key focus areas at Norse Consulting. Daniella Barrow, Senior Director of the organisation, outlines the goals and progress, with observations on the operational, collaboration, and compliance benefits of the Golden Thread for Norse within the context of the construction sector

The Cloud Transformation experience at Norse Consulting

Symetri with Norse Consulting and Autodesk at their internal "Journey to Cloud" event at Peterborough Football Stadium


“Our dedication to improving people’s lives is now underpinned by having made the best technology choices, to make it possible to do so”.

- Daniella Barrow, Norse Consulting

Becoming data-centric

Every organisation or company today, in both the public and the private sector, is taking measures—to greater or lesser degrees—to manage data more efficiently. It’s mandatory to do so, given the duties imposed to treat data sensitively; regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented in the UK through the Data Protection Act, 2018. It is also highly advantageous to do so since the sharing of information (data) makes for efficient working practices.

Other critical factors make data-centricity an even greater priority. These include:

  • The Building Safety Act (2022): “Data management will be central to meeting the requirements of the Building Safety Bill. All collaborators on a project, from designers to contractors, will need to maintain a local electronic audit trail, rather than relying on owners to hold the data. It will also be important to be able to easily access and share information whenever required” .
  • The Hackitt Review (2018) which called for (among other things): “Transparency of information and an audit trail all the way through the life cycle of a building from the planning stage to occupation and maintenance is essential to provide reassurance and evidence that a building has been built safe and continues to be safe” .

The digitisation journey is well underway at Norse Consulting, part of the Norse Group—the largest commercial Local Authority Trading Company (LATCO) in the UK. Symetri have been accompanying Norse on this journey; helping to clarify and guide strategic direction while also providing step-change software solutions to accelerate the organisation’s progress. Daniella Barrow explains where the story began:

Improving people’s lives

“Across all the divisions, departments, locations and activities in Norse Group, our purpose is simple; we believe that the services we deliver should help improve people’s lives. This belief relates not just to the public and the communities who use the buildings we design and construct—schools, swimming pools, leisure centres, housing, and care homes, for example—but also to our employees.

Norse Project in partnership with Brentwood Borough Council: Ingleton Regeneration Project, Brentwood

A large part of that commitment to our teams is about giving them the right tools to do their jobs; which enables them to work not just more efficiently, but also with more enjoyment.

If people see results of their efforts faster, they feel more fulfilled. If they’re not bogged down with tedious tasks, they can spend more of their time being creative. Working with software that has long been superseded by improved solutions, or having to search for information or files, and trying to verify that it’s the right version, or spending hours on repetitive tasks can all be demotivating."

How do you support a culture of innovation?

"In the public sector, in a digital world, there simply isn’t any room or any time to waste on struggling with information when there are so many pressing priorities around improving our society and better supporting local communities. Yet the sector still grapples with going completely digital. 

Continually coming up with fresh ways of improving the built environment for our clients is extremely important to us at Norse Consulting. This mindset and culture of innovation depends on technology, which ultimately depends on the cloud.

Using that sort of tech to its fullest requires all your team to embrace it. If you don’t win their hearts and minds, any technology you take on will only ever be partly used. Part measures aren’t enough."

Confidence in data

"We spend an enormous amount of time in making the benefits they’ll gain very clear to our team, all 250 of them. We’ve started on a journey that we want everybody to be enthusiastic about; not by telling them they should but by showing them how outcomes are improved when processes are improved; the working environment is enriched when people work together more closely, collaborating easily, accessing data as and when needed, and always having total confidence that it’s the right data.”

The Golden Thread of Information | 10 Core Principles Revolutionising the Business

In November 2022, Daniella presented at ‘Connected Local Authorities’. The event, organised by Autodesk, shared insights and views on the value of the Golden Thread of Information in improving how local authorities plan, procure, build, and operate buildings and estates. Daniella outlined the ten core principles guiding Norse Consulting’s digital strategy for improved data management in the areas of design delivery:

“Norse Consulting is determined to work smarter,” says Daniella with regard to these principles, “and we want to bring local authorities along with us on the journey as much as possible.

There have been too many failings in construction of which we are all very much aware. There cannot be lack of insight or lack of collaboration anymore and—particularly—no more confusion around accountability.

To me, this all puts a huge emphasis on the single source of truth, or the Common Data Environment, together with consistent approaches enforced by adherence to standards such as those that frame quality, such as ISO 9001, and ISO 19650 in Building Information Modelling (BIM).

We’re revolutionising our business at Norse to embrace the core principles and to make sure, as much as possible, that every day for us is another day moving forward, improving outcomes on every project and for our clients, and for the citizens they serve.

From the beginning, we knew the overall direction of travel that lay ahead of us. But much of what was involved was new to us. We needed a partner with solid expertise based on having done this before, and this is where Symetri came in. They helped initially with our cloud licensing but rapidly proved their value in guiding us on so many aspects of driving better governance and information management. Symetri treat Norse’s problems and challenges as their own. They gained our trust very quickly because they were not in the least sales-driven. They just wanted to help.

Preparing for change

Preparing for change all starts with the cloud. In fact, it all starts with how you intend to use the cloud. I’ll give you an example of just how we evaluated what we felt we could get from our digital strategy.

This involved looking not just at how the industry works—the trends, regulations and responsibilities driving digitisation in construction and design—but also working with Symetri to evaluate our own processes and workflows to fast-track how we could embed standardised practices across diverse teams and specialisms.

In the public sector, as well as within construction, there are numerous instances where traditional practices are still followed; ‘old’ ways of doing things. Many experienced design professionals do things in certain ways because those ways have ‘always worked’.

The thing is, those ways tend not to be as agile as they could be, as integrated between people, systems, and data as they need to be, nor as efficient and consistent as they must be in a digital world.

Norse Project in partnership with Leeds City Council: Stourton Park & Ride, Leeds

Laying the foundations

One of the many benefits of having Symetri as our partner is that they have a range of software that they have developed specifically for the Buildings and Infrastructure sector and for working in the cloud. This really does demonstrate their deep experience, and also further validates our confidence in Symetri’s people.

From the outset of our transformation journey, we took a close look at our licensing, an area that causes confusion for many companies. We were over-licenced in numerous areas. Reviewers, for example, had full licences for software that they only occasionally used; in the review process.

We were using too many network licences, for multiple users, and needed to align licensing directly to job roles; reviewers compared to authors, for example. We had to be smarter about this before moving to deeper cloud adoption across the company.

Had we not undertaken this analysis, the cost of cloud adoption would have been close to prohibitive. Once it was resolved, using Symetri’s proprietary software , CQFlexMon, specifically designed for monitoring and managing licence usage, the cost barrier disappeared”.

Validating our digital strategy

Norse Consulting’s digital transformation is “a big project” says Daniella. To make sure it rolls out successfully across the company, it has been launched as a pilot in one location, the organisation’s Leeds office, where the team are embarked on a Joint Venture with Leeds City Council.

“When we presented the new cloud approach and its benefits, the infinitely better controlled management of information, and the ease of collaboration (with Autodesk’s BIM Collaborate), our entire team was enthused. The overall comment was ‘Why didn’t we have this years ago?’. That was a good feeling; to hear the genuine commitment from the team to make it work.

Our Common Data Environment will be stored in the cloud and we’ll be able to share it with appropriate third parties. We’ll collaborate in the cloud. We’ll design in the cloud. Good governance mitigates risk and is the direct line to designing and creating better buildings.

The appetite for change is huge here at Norse. The team is up-tempo. Most of all, I believe Norse Consulting has made the essential transformation that design and construction is sorely in need of today, and our dedication to improving people’s lives is now underpinned by having made the best technology choices to make it possible to do so. Symetri are very much our trusted partner on this journey. They have our backs. Together we are a team, and my intention is that we will have Symetri as our guides and mentors for the foreseeable future”.

Symetri & Norse Consulting at the Construction Computing Awards 2023 where their journey to cloud transformation was nominated for "Cloud Best Technology of the Year"

About Norse Group

Norse Group is an award-winning national business, working closely with local authorities across the UK to deliver key services in communities – and saving millions of pounds of public money each year.

Owned by Norfolk County Council, with its headquarters based in Norwich, the Group brings together Environmental, Highways and FM specialist Norse Commercial Services, property services provider Norse Consulting, and care homes company NorseCare. With a combined turnover of £350 million, Norse employs over 9,000 people.

“Our mission is to provide an integrated approach to public sector services and generate sustainable long-term relationships and returns fairly and ethically for the benefit of our clients, employees and stakeholders”.

About Norse Consulting


  • Quality | Delivering quality through competent, timely and consistent services.
  • Innovation | Pursuing innovation through progressive thinking and continuous improvement.
  • Respect | Earning and treating others and our environment with respect.
  • Trust | Promoting trust through integrity and accountability.