Network Housing Group has completed a nine-month project to deliver dynamic scheduling and mobile working at Riversmead Housing Association, one of its group members. Implemented by Network Housing’s in-house IT team, the initiative is based on Northgate’s Contractor module and Kirona’s Mobile Contractors system.
The old process relied on tickets for work orders being emailed to Riversmead’s partnering contractor who then contacted each resident to make an appointment. This approach led to missed deadlines if an appointment was not made in time. It also focused on appointment slots for the residents and ignored any optimisation of the engineers’ time.
Residents are now offered an appointment as soon as they report their repairs. The scheduling engine takes into account school runs and other ad-hoc occasions when the tenant may not be available, as well as the availability of suitably-skilled engineers, the urgency of the repair and the location of the property.
All engineers now have PDAs with secure access to Mobile Contractors. The engineers log into their shift before they leave home and pick up their first job ticket. The PDA shows details of the repair, the property and whether there are any special access requirements.
The scheduling engine calculates how long it will take the engineer to travel to the appointment, and how long the repair should take to complete. With the engineers recording when they start travelling and when they start working on a repair, the scheduling engine dynamically updates the appointments throughout the day to redistribute the remaining appointments for the day.
The engineers can record materials usage and variations on their PDA, enabling the office to make any necessary arrangements. They can also record non-access as well as breaks and unavailability, such as medical appointments or holidays, all of which is transferred directly into Northgate Housing.
The Northgate Contractors module lets the contractor’s office record shifts and employment details, and even assign different skill levels to individuals. They are also alerted to any appointments that are in danger of being missed and can manually intervene if necessary.
After five months’ live operation of the Northgate and Kirona system, Riversmead’s contractor is carrying out 15 per cent more repairs while maintaining the same number of engineers and meeting completion targets.
Sarah Hagger, business systems analyst and project manager, Network Housing Group, said, “The project took nine months and went live March 2010. We managed the project in-house rather than using Northgate’s project management consultancy which gave us significant cost savings. The project came in on time, in scope and within budget.”