Your Housing Group (YHG) has transformed the efficiency of its field force operations with the FLS VISITOUR scheduling solution from FLS – FAST LEAN SMART, achieving a 25-32% increase in productivity for operatives.
Following a strategic business review that set new objectives for operational efficiencies to achieve value for money and customer satisfaction targets, YHG embarked on a technology investment and digital transformation programme.
One of the UK’s largest housing providers in the North of England with 29,000 homes, YHG utilises Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 platform and selected FLS VISITOUR to provide a robust dynamic scheduling and mobile solution that could also integrate seamlessly with its MRI AccuServ repairs management system.
SELECTION OF FLS VISITOUR
The first priority was to deliver the FLS solution for fix360, YHG’s dedicated repairs team with circa 200 operatives, secondly the voids team, and then subsequent business functions to include surveyors and tenant liaison officers – in total more than 300 resources.
Darren Halliwell, YHG’s Chief Information Officer, said: “We did our research and were determined to find a technology and partner that aligned to our five-year business plan, which had the capability to adapt as we develop and implement our wider technology roadmap. At the heart of our functional requirements was dynamic scheduling and accurate routing.”
YHG proceeded with a formal tender. Darren Halliwell added: “We considered proposals from many vendors, including Microsoft’s own offering RSO and those well known in the housing sector. What stood out for FLS is how the required capabilities are achieved: cost-led, traffic-based, and in-day response in real-time with the functional depth to meet every scenario.
They brought experience from both in and out of the housing sector and came with a stamp of approval from Microsoft which gave us confidence. We were also impressed by their delivery approach and speed of implementation to meet our business-led timescales. The quality of the solution and expertise offered became clear after we spoke to references and FLS was our unanimous choice.”
As the project started, the global pandemic meant workshops had to be held remotely. Darren Halliwell continued: “Our joint team adapted well to the new circumstances, and it did not hinder timescales or quality of design. FLS provided accelerators and guidance for integration that was tailored by our team to unique requirements. We went live on time and on budget and have been exceptionally impressed by the adaptability of the product and the FLS consultants who worked with us.”
FIX360 REPAIR SOLUTION
fix360 has over 3,000 categories of repair. Once a customer’s need is qualified by the call centre or via its 24/7 self-service resident portal, Your Home Hub, FLS VISITOUR provides the optimal AM/PM appointment choices according to available operatives and existing commitments, with the customer receiving confirmation text messages as reminders. This utilises real-time optimisation, not just finding white-space to fill in the diary, with the added accuracy of time-of-day actual traffic speeds for every journey. Each appointment is therefore cost-effective and punctual, using operatives with the right skills enabling the best possibility of a first-time fix.
The FLS solution included FLS MOBILE which was tailored with configuration to fit YHG’s needs. When completing repairs, there were previously many pages of forms to be filled. In partnership with FLS, a repairs app was designed together with operatives, with the forms modified and reduced, helping operatives to deliver a more efficient service and quicker completion of jobs, including capture of SOR and materials. If a follow-up appointment is required it can be booked there and then on the operatives’ mobile app, utilising the same efficient algorithm employed by the call centre.
Adrian Mostyn, Head of Repairs and Maintenance at YHG, 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 COVID, the FLS solution enabled YHG to assign scheme-approved operatives who had the skillset to support on repairs and maintenance for those specific schemes, providing reassurance to customers and staff that they were the right people.
Post pandemic, new pressures emerged to include the rising costs and shortage of materials, fuel prices, wage pressures and challenges retaining and hiring new operatives, increasing focus on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.
Adrian Mostyn added: “The FLS solution has proven flexible and functional, enabling us to make the best use of resources available, with sustainability and costs in mind, and to focus on our objectives as a business.”
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 required in the FLS mobile app. This is fed back to Dynamics, which owns the overall process and FLS VISITOUR automatically schedules the work in the most efficient way. The inspector can revisit to check progress and make changes if necessary.
RESULTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Conan McKinley, Director of Asset Management, said: “Our investment in FLS has provided a tool we can rely on across the business, rather than just repairs and maintenance, which is its USP. FLS is more adaptable than alternatives and is revolutionising the internal management of scheduling for YHG, providing a clear insight for how to manage teams, delivering the right service at the right time to the customer.”
Highlights of the benefits for YHG include:
· 25-32% increase in job completion by operatives through efficiency and a commensurate saving in fuel and emissions per job helping towards costs and ESG.
· Greater visibility and a reduced risk of backlogs.
· Automated messaging of arrival time reminders to the customer, improving service and reducing the risk of a ‘no access’ appointment.
· Customer self-service appointment booking has been enabled and a repair can be reported in seconds, 24/7, fitting around resident lifestyles and working days.
Darren Halliwell said: “With FLS, we brought experience from outside the sector and applied it to social housing, using all of that knowledge, maximising the opportunity for this organisation. It felt like a game-changer and achieved outstanding results; up to that point, scheduling didn’t have that extra edge. As FLS are not sector specific, they had no real barriers, and the product could address each scenario we came across. They also have a technology stack that made it easy to integrate seamlessly with the existing technology we have.”
Conan McKinley added: “FLS is achieving measurable benefits for YHG, but has delivered far more; we are understanding our business needs first and the operational impacts faced, knowing our business much better and working out more effective solutions. We now have maximum capability moving forward and our investment in the FLS team is well made.
Adrian Mostyn added: “The FLS scheduling solution is superb! They have proven an exceptional partner and I heartily recommend FLS to other housing providers.”
The success of this project has received recognition in housing industry awards, with YHG a finalist for ‘Best Digital Transformation’.
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