Magna Housing Association has installed Xmbrace’s Project Planner tool to manage its voids process, resulting in better workforce utilisation and properties typically being turned around ready for re-letting five days faster than before.
The housing provider, which employs 200 staff and manages 6,000 properties in Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset, had already been using Xmbrace’s Opti-Time appointment booking and resource scheduling system for responsive repairs for the last couple of years when in December 2009 it decided to extend its use to cover voids management.
Integrated into Opti-Time, Project Planner enables planned maintenance to be visualised on screen to show the different work elements required, the correct sequence of jobs and the gaps between them, all of which are vital as voids typically involve multiple trades working in a certain sequence. Furthermore, as things are constantly changing, it allows Magna to manually manipulate the work schedule when needed.
Project Planner’s rescheduling capability is particularly useful when balancing the demand for responsive and emergency repairs with the need to turn voids around. For example, if a plumber is working on a voids project when an emergency plumbing issue arises down the road, he can be switched to the emergency instead of making the customer wait for another plumber who may be far away.
Claire Boston, planner, Magna Housing Association, said, “Circumstances always change when you are doing voids work. For example, a housing officer may look at a house when it is occupied and make a list of the jobs that need to be done, but when the residents leave and the house is empty, other issues come to light and that changes the whole sequence of jobs for that particular house.”
While Magna’s planning team usually has two or three weeks’ notice when scheduling its voids jobs, there are occasions when it is given less notice and asked to turn the work around as quickly as possible. By using Project Planner, Boston can instantly see where and when there is availability and therefore provide an accurate completion date.
Project Planner has also helped to make better use of Magna’s resources. Boston uses the calendar to schedule the voids work, with any spare availability of the tradesmen easily seen and released for responsive repairs.
Boston said “Project Planner helps us plan where the operatives go and where the availability is, and seeing it all visually on a screen is great – we would have struggled without it. It frees up a lot of time and we can now give more operative time back to responsive repairs.”
Figures from Magna’s re-housing department show that since the implementation of Project Planner, the average time taken to have a home ready to be re-let has reduced by five days. Magna implemented Project Planner in December 2009 and went live three months later.