Improved network management supports growth for SAC Consulting


The challenge

With a broad spectrum of specialist advisors and diverse experience, SAC Consulting provides expert advice and tailored solutions for a wide range of customers, including farmers and crofters, land managers and estates, SMEs and multinationals, and the public sector.

As part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), it has a footprint across Scotland and Northern England which enables deep insights and access into the rural economy and unique connection to the latest research on sustainable agriculture, land use, climate change, biodiversity, and food supply chains across the UK (and beyond).

With almost 250 consultants working from 24 different offices across Scotland and Northern England, SAC Consulting found that its vast geographical footprint and UK-wide customer based sometimes presented discrepancies in terms of consistent workflow and mapping processes across its network, which it wished to address.

The company wanted a way to formalise and standardise elements of its work to ensure mapping consistency across the board, improving quality, efficiency and accuracy. Moreover, SAC Consulting was sourcing and maintaining its own third party opensource and licensed datasets across its entire geographical area – a process that was extremely labour intensive, with mapping data being manually kept up to date.

As a business, SAC Consulting needed a platform that could handle its geographical mapping requirements with access to up-to-date datasets, whilst providing templates and guides for users to follow.

The solution

In 2019, SAC Consulting appointed thinkWhere to develop a solution using groundMapper – an innovative online GIS for managing map-based asset information and associated data, and for easily sharing information with stakeholders.

As a cloud-based interface, groundMapper can provide access to datasets throughout the whole organisation, providing one source of up-to-date information and a platform for sharing and collaboration. It allows SAC Consulting teams to view, query and work with all location data, both in-house and from third parties like Ordnance Survey, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

It also has the capability to provide access to company files and templates, helping to ensure mapping data is handled correctly and consistently across the board.

The rollout

Providing a smooth transition to groundMapper across the network of consulting offices was paramount to the success of the implementation. The company needed to ensure that service levels were maintained for its existing customers, whilst it was also imperative that groundMapper could handle peak usage times across the organisation, such as grant application deadlines.

Implemented for SAC Consulting in 2019, groundMapper’s intuitive platform, combined with a catalogue of project and print templates designed to the company’s requirements, allowed for a straightforward switchover.

Consistency, efficiency and quality

SAC Consulting now has the information it needs, readily available and up to date, regardless of physical location. The convenience of having third-party data available as a service has supported smoother, more efficient processes for teams, whilst ensuring they always have access to the most up-to-date, definitive environmental and topographic data available.

Having a bespoke groundMapper package has provided the business with the tools it needs to ensure consistency and efficiency across their land management work. This helps to ensure its work remains of the highest quality as its network of customers and their respective land assets continue to grow.

thinkWhere continues to develop groundMapper to add new features, responding to feedback from clients and ensuring that every subscriber has access to the tools they need to succeed.

“Working with thinkWhere has been really good. The support has been excellent and very responsive. If we’ve got any issues, they are always dealt with very quickly and the thinkWhere team are always available.

We spent quite a bit of time during the development phase reviewing our requirements. It was quite a process to go through. We had some ideas but thinkWhere provided us with alternative solutions which we maybe hadn’t thought about before. In many ways groundMapper has worked better than we imagined.

thinkWhere are always refining groundMapper, making improvements and adding new useful features. It’s reassuring to have that constant investment in the product and with each update we see positive changes that translate directly to benefits for us as a business.”

Mary Sheehan,
SAC Consulting

Cataloguing historic aerial imagery with NCAP

Curating snapshots of the UK with the British Library

thinkWhere supports Scottish Government’s R100 programme