Your Housing Group has improved the efficiency of its field operations with the Visitour scheduling software from FLS – Fast Lean Smart, achieving a 30 per cent increase in productivity for its operatives.
Following a strategic review of its operational efficiencies towards achieving value for money and customer satisfaction targets, YHG embarked on an IT investment and digital transformation programme.
YHG uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 and selected FLS Visitour as a robust dynamic scheduling and mobile solution that could also integrate with its MRI AccuServ repairs management system.
The first priority was to deliver the FLS solution for Fix360, YHG’s 200-strong repairs team followed by its voids team and then other business functions such as surveyors and housing officers, in total around 300 workers.
Darren Halliwell, CIO, Your Housing Group, said, “At the heart of our requirements were dynamic scheduling and accurate routing, and we considered proposals from many vendors, including Microsoft’s own RSO solution and those well-known in the housing sector.
“What stood out for us was how FLS covered our functional requirements; cost-led, traffic-based and in-day responses in real-time, combined with the functional depth to meet every scenario. FLS brought experience from the housing sector and beyond, plus it came with Microsoft’s stamp of approval for added confidence.
“The joint YHG and FLS team adapted well to the new circumstances [remote workshops during the pandemic] and they didn’t hinder the timescales or quality of design. FLS provided digital accelerators and integration guidance, which led us to go-live on time and within budget. We’ve been very impressed by the adaptability of the product and FLS’s consultants.”
Fix360 has over 3,000 repair categories, and once a customer’s need is qualified by the call centre or via its 24/7 self-service portal (Your Home Hub), Visitour provides the optimal appointment choices according to the operatives’ availability, with the customer receiving confirmation text messages as reminders. This uses real-time optimisation, not just finding ‘white space’ to fill in the diary, with the added accuracy of actual time-of-day traffic speeds for every journey. Each appointment is therefore cost-effective and punctual, using operatives with the right skills enabling the best possibility of first-time fixes.
The FLS solution also included FLS Mobile, tailored to fit YHG’s needs. When completing repairs, there were previously many pages of forms to be completed. In partnership with FLS, a repairs app was designed in collaboration with YHG’s operatives, with the forms modified and reduced, helping them to deliver a more efficient service and faster completion of jobs, including the capture of SOR and materials. If a follow-up appointment is needed, it can be booked there and then on the operatives’ mobile app, using the same efficient algorithm employed by the call centre.
Adrian Mostyn, head of repairs and maintenance, Your Housing Group, said, “Our new way of working has been transformational for my team; we’re completing around 30 per cent more jobs per operative on a like-for-like basis which is tremendous.”
During the pandemic, the FLS solution enabled YHG to assign scheme-approved operatives who had the necessary skills for scheme-specific repairs and maintenance. Post-pandemic, new pressures emerged to include the rising costs and shortage of materials, fuel prices, wage pressures, hiring and operative retention, sustainability and reduced carbon emissions.
With the success of FLS Visitour for YHG, the next area of focus was the voids team. The inspector first visits the property and captures the work and sequence of trades need in the FLS Mobile app. This is fed back to Microsoft Dynamics, which ‘owns’ the overall process, and FLS Visitour automatically schedules the work in the most efficient way.
Conan McKinley, director of asset management, Your Housing Group, said, “Our investment in FLS has given us a tool that we can rely on across the business, rather than just repairs and maintenance, which is its USP. FLS is more adaptable than the alternatives and is revolutionising our internal scheduling.”
YHG highlighted the benefits it has gained from FLS:
30 per cent increase in completed jobs by operatives through efficiency and a commensurate saving in fuel and emissions.
Greater visibility of jobs and a reduced risk of backlogs.
Automated messaging of arrival-time reminders to customers, reducing the risk of ‘no access’ appointments.
Self-service appointment booking has been enabled; a repair can now be reported 24/7 in just a few seconds, fitting around residents’ lifestyles and working days.
Halliwell said, “With FLS, we brought experience from outside the sector and applied it to social housing. It felt like a game-changer and achieved outstanding results.
“Until our implementation of FLS, our scheduling didn’t have that extra edge. Because FLS isn’t sector-specific, it had no real barriers so its product could address each scenario we came across. It also has a technology stack that made it easy to integrate seamlessly with our existing technology.”