As part of its centralisation of the DLO operations of its subsidiaries, Adactus Housing Group has saved £1.5 million by deploying mobile working technologies from 1st Touch and Xmbrace.
Adactus began a three-year ‘Adactus2012’ business re-engineering programme in May 2009 to capitalise on the potential economies of scale and efficiencies resulting from the group’s recent substantial growth. Of the Adactus2012 programme’s six focus areas, two of them – to resolve more problems at the first contact and to create a more efficient DLO – had a direct impact on the housing group’s need for mobile technology.
Andy Marshall, director of asset management, Adactus Housing Group, said, “We wanted to change from a dispersed area office-based structure to a centralised operation with one main office location, a contact centre and a single integrated DLO team. The contact centre would then distribute the work to home-based operatives. We could see how this could potentially deliver huge efficiency savings, not least in terms of time, fuel and financial resources.”
Adactus recognised early in the programme that once its DLO operations were centralised, it wouldn’t be practical for its operatives to return to base every time to collect new job information and materials.
Marshall said, “It was therefore clear that we needed a system that was capable of supporting, controlling and managing a remote workforce’s activities at a distance. It was at this stage that we started looking in earnest at mobile technology.”
Adactus realised that if it could manage the 50-strong responsive repairs workforce better by using mobile technology, the completion of one extra job per day by each worker would save over £1 million per year.
Marshall said, “If our operatives could get into their vans in the morning with the right materials already on board and then be guided to their jobs electronically, we knew that by simply eliminating the need to return to base, they would be able to do at least one extra job per day.”
Following an extensive review of the mobile technology market and site visits to existing users, Adactus chose mobile working technology from 1st Touch and Xmbrace’s Opti-Time appointment scheduling system. The decision to deploy 1st Touch was also influenced by the software’s existing integration capabilities for the Aareon housing management system used by Adactus.
Marshall said, “The combined technology allows call centre staff to schedule the repair jobs in the operatives’ calendars, with Opti-Time arranging the appointment in the best possible way. 1st Touch manages all the electronic forms on the PDA and updates the back-office systems once each job is completed.”
In addition, as operatives use up their on-board van stock, they tick this off on their PDA and the 1st Touch software automatically places an order with the nearest Jewson depot for parts and materials so the next time the operative goes past, a box of parts and materials is already waiting for collection.
The number of jobs carried out each day has now increased by more than one job per day, with the result that Adactus has beaten its £1 million savings’ target by more than 50 per cent.
Marshall said, “In addition to the impressive efficiency savings, there has been a growing trust between the DLO workers and our tenants. As a result, we have expanded into other areas of maintenance, such as planned installations of kitchens and bathrooms for which we have recently recruited more workers.
“We have also expanded our use of mobile technology into our voids work. The system lets us make roles interchangeable between responsive repairs and voids. If we need to secure a new front door on a void and there is someone carrying out a repair around the corner, it makes sense to combine the two.”
Another recent development is the use of the new mobile solution for gas maintenance and servicing. Workers who completed paper certificates previously now use the PDA, with the PDA sending the latest data to the back-office systems to update the records.
Marshall said, “Once you see the benefits of the technology in one area, you soon see how it might work in another – there are potential savings right across the organisation by using well-deployed mobile technology.”