Mobile working systems have proven to be one of the most successful ways for housing organisations to deliver transformation and efficiency savings. They offer numerous benefits, from cost reductions and improved customer service to lower carbon emissions and better staff retention. However to gain funding for a mobile system, you need to build a realistic business case to determine the likely impact on your organisation and if it is worthwhile financially.
The business case requirement
Your business case needs to outline the benefits of moving from your ‘as is’ state to your ‘to be’ working model which should include both high-level strategic outcomes as well as the minute details. These should cover areas such as the cost of printing job sheets, minutes spent traveling to the office/depot, and time spent on timesheets and expense claims as these figures will give you a far better idea of how mobile working will affect your service.
It is also important that the business case and return on investment (RoI) calculations are not abandoned once a system has been procured. After all, the business case is an indication of the efficiencies your organisation can achieve through mobile working and it’s an effective yardstick in determining how your project is doing.
How to build the business case
The first step in building your business case is to identify which business processes in your ‘as is’ state need to be addressed. Some of these service bottlenecks will stand out and will be the reasons why you are considering mobile working in the first place. For example, if teams whose main tasks involve them spending time out of the office, such as a repairs workforce, are returning to the office to pick up and drop off work, then giving them remote, real-time access to jobs in the back office is clearly going to help them focus on carrying out tenant repairs rather than wasting time on excessive travel or administration.
Once you know which business processes need addressing, the next step is to see what mobile working systems are available and to discuss your requirements with the software suppliers. This will help you to run through your ‘as is’ model and see what ‘to be’ model they can offer you. It is likely that they will be able to show you improvements you hadn’t thought of. You may have been concentrating on efficiencies in one area, such as housing repairs, and not thought about what systems are available for other areas as well, such as rents and arrears. You may also have been concentrating on one aspect of mobile working, such as the real-time capture of data, when you could become more effective when you combine it with a variety of other tools, including automated job scheduling, workforce management systems, mobile worker electronic whiteboards, GPS/GIS mapping, and lone worker protection.
Once you have discussed your requirements with suppliers, you should now have a better idea of what business processes can be made completely redundant:
- Collecting paper records and job sheets from the office;
- Keying records and job sheet data into back-office systems;
- Manually allocating jobs to the workforce.
And which processes can be streamlined:
- Stock ordering for repairs officers;
- Varying jobs;
- Simplified information gathering.
And ideas about how you want to do it:
- Which back-office integration method;
- Which mobile device (PDA, Blackberry, Tablet PC, etc);
- What security measures (including CoCo compliance);
- Just a small service area or across the organisation;
- Using a real-time or off-line platform.
As you have now narrowed down the options, it is time to go into the business case and your RoI in more detail. If you are finding it difficult to get your business case off the ground then discuss this with solution providers. These companies should have RoI calculators that can show you the likely benefits you will achieve, based on their previous customer implementations. They will also be quite detailed, covering financial (e.g. cost savings, increased revenues) and non-financial outcomes (carbon reduction, improved customer service) so that you can directly compare the projected outcomes with your performance indicator targets.
Once the projected benefits are offset against the mobile working costs, including software licences, mobile devices, SIM and network data and managed services, you will have your RoI figures. This should give you a clear picture of what your service will achieve and provide a solid foundation for your business case.
Jamie Heaton is head of marketing at Kirona Solutions.