In order to in-source its grounds maintenance activities for over 22,000 homes, Flagship Group has developed an automated management system based on Esri’s ArcGIS platform.
With around 22,500 properties, Flagship Group comprises Flagship Homes and repairs and maintenance company RFT Services. Since its inception, the organisation had relied on two or more subcontractors to carry out its grounds maintenance tasks, but Flagship had little visibility of when and whether specific tasks were taking place and which areas were being routinely maintained.
Flagship decided to bring its grounds maintenance activities in-house, by expanding the remit of RFT Services and creating a new digital process for planning, implementing and managing the entire process. The first priority was to create a centralised source of accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of the grounds maintenance service and make it accessible to employees across multiple departments.
Having recently acquired Esri’s ArcGIS Enterprise software, Flagship developed a fully integrated and automated grounds maintenance solution, based on ArcGIS Server integrated with its existing Windows 365 applications, SQL Server and a bespoke intranet platform. Flagship’s new solution was launched on the same day that its external suppliers’ contracts terminated.
Abi Tassie, GIS developer, Flagship Group, said, “Now, we don’t just have a picture of a strip of grass that needs to be cut; we can click on the map to immediately see when it was last cut, when its next cut is due, what it costs to cut and which customers pay for it.”
Around 180 employees have access to the interactive grounds maintenance map while in the office and PDF map booklets (derived from ArcGIS) while in the field. Grounds maintenance operatives use the solution to see which areas are and aren’t owned by Flagship and when they need to attend each site. The field management team uses the software to plan visits, reduce driving times and increase productivity. The finance team accesses cost information via automated reports, embedded within the interactive map, to calculate the grounds maintenance charge per property. Meanwhile, call handlers and housing officers access the system to resolve queries at point-of-contact, for example, when lawns will be mown or what is included in service charges.
Since bringing the service in-house, Flagship now receives 50 per cent fewer calls into its contact centre relating to failures in the grounds maintenance service, as well as a projected 10 per cent annual reduction in grounds maintenance costs.
Matt Brazier, director of IT at Flagship Group, said, “In the development of our ArcGIS-based solutions, we either removed or automated 68 per cent of individual steps, creating a far more efficient and streamlined process.
“Having great people, using great software with great data makes life a lot easier. If we hadn’t deployed ArcGIS before in-sourcing our grounds maintenance, I’d hate to think how much time and money we would have wasted.”
Flagship is now considering tendering for other grounds maintenance contracts from other nearby organisations. Tassie said, “Our automated approach based on ArcGIS allows us to do more things in the time we have available. It therefore allows us to consider innovative new business ventures that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.”