North Hertfordshire Homes has saved 100s of hours of back-office time and reduced by two months the surveying period for its annual repairs programme by introducing mobile working. Its building surveyors are now using NDL’s AWI MX mobile working toolkit on iPads when they inspect properties, eliminating paper forms and enabling the automatic transfer of reports to its housing management system.
NHH’s planned repairs are carried out based on the age of a property, such as re-roofing and re-wiring. In addition, every seven years all properties on specific estates are individually inspected and assessed for other repairs on items such as chimneys, gutters, paths, driveways and brickwork. Any work identified is then scheduled to be carried out the following year. At any time, one seventh of its property portfolio is undergoing a bespoke maintenance programme, with another seventh being surveyed for repairs for the following year.
Previously, when NHH’s surveyors visited properties, they used multiple printed forms for the specific repairs needed, with 500 different types of entries possible covering task, trade required, quantity, location, unit of measurement and miscellaneous extra works. This information was later manually inputted into a spreadsheet by one of NHH’s administrative team, double-checked by a surveyor and corrected if necessary, and then transferred to the housing management system.
NHH selected AWI MX, NDL’s mobile working toolkit and corporate platform, to automate the property inspection forms. The toolkit enables users to design, deploy and manage multiple bespoke and secure mobile applications across different types of devices. Using these applications, mobile workers can operate on or offline, taking information from back-office systems with them and updating it from the field.
Indy Bhogal, the NHH software business analyst who developed the mobile app, said “It’s really important to understand the surveyors’ processes and how you can mimic these so they don’t have to learn something completely new. As a consequence, we got the app right from the start rather than having to go through lots of iterations, which meant they really wanted to use it.”
The app enables surveyors to enter all aspects of the necessary repairs, working either on- or offline, and then up- and downloading data to and from the housing management system.
Steve Foulds, NHH’s building technician closely involved in the development of the app, said, “As well as streamlining how we enter the data, the new system gives us real-time information on the properties we’re inspecting when we arrive. It’s a clean, seamless and accurate way of working. But also managers can get realistic overviews immediately of what is going on.”