Having used Xmbrace DRS dynamic scheduling software since 2009, Wigan and Leigh Housing extended its use earlier this year to its wider estate management services.
Before the widespread introduction of mobile working and dynamic scheduling, WLH’s 80 customer-facing staff had two main problems. First, appointments were made in isolation with no way for the officers to know about any outstanding enquiries the tenants had previously phoned the contact centre about, so officers were unable to deal with multiple enquiries per visit.
Secondly, appointments were allocated to the next available slot with no reference to location, rather than planning the most sensible and efficient route. The planners also had no visibility of productivity levels or the whereabouts of caretakers so when a high priority task came in, there was no way to see which caretaker was nearest to the job.
Given the large number of users and their varying degrees of IT skills, WLH implemented Xmbrace DRS in a phased approach, starting with those least comfortable with IT. By May 2013, all 23 caretakers were fully trained and using the handheld devices running Xmbrace DRS. This enables the caretakers to pick up tasks remotely on the device and report on progress during the day. This frees them from having to complete manual timesheets and gives the planners visibility of where each caretaker is at that moment and also provides an indicator of productivity levels.
The remaining customer-facing staff moved onto the mobile system during the third quarter of 2013. They now have a complete customer view on their devices and no longer have to go to one estate in the morning, a different one mid-morning and then back to where they were first thing. And the improved customer visibility on the mobile devices means that a number of enquiries can be dealt with in just one visit, removing the need for tenants to constantly contact WLH about each separate issue.
With two planners managing the caretakers’ workloads, WLH can now fill gaps with ad-hoc jobs. For example, if the planners receive a call from a supervisor during the day to report a case of fly-tipping, they can instantly see where the nearest caretaker is and schedule the task for an appropriate time.
Elaine Pierce, IT manager, Wigan and Leigh Housing Company, said, “We are very happy with the results from our estate management implementation to date and are looking forward to having all our departments fully mobile as part of our wider strategy.”