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Project Takes Mobility to New Levels, Streamlining Front and Back End Systems Anticipated 25% Productivity Boost, £60K Annual Savings and Increased Customer Satisfaction

Social housing specialist, Moorlands Housing, a former local authority housing transfer organisation, has mobilised its field-based workforce using the Pervasic MobileOne Housing Maintenance Solution in a project to replace its manual, paper-based IT system. The project, which included an overall IT and business processes review has taken mobilisation in the housing sector to a new level. Moorlands Housing not only mobilised field-based operators, but also automated 70% of its supply chain, and linked its asset management, invoicing and back office systems, resulting in £60K savings per annum, with an anticipated productivity increase of 25 percent within the first 12 months. The project is delivering significant enhancements to response times and customer service, as well as higher levels of health and safety.

Moorlands Housing is a Staffordshire-based registered Social Landlord with approximately 3,000 properties in and around the Moorlands towns of Leek, Cheadle and Biddulph and the surrounding villages. Moorlands Housing is a member of the Harvest Housing Group. As the former housing venture of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, tenants voted for privatisation in Feb 2002. Today, the company provides social care housing, supported accommodation and general needs housing through its housing stock, as well as owning garages and shops. Since privatisation, Moorlands has spent £23 million on improvement work in the last five years, with a further £3m for planned maintenance and £1.2 million for responsive repairs and empty properties budgeted for this year.
Moorlands Housing manages approximately 12,000 responsive and out of hours repairs, as well as approximately 200 empty properties, known as voids, and over 1,200 planned maintenance units a year for property improvements such as kitchens, bathrooms, and heating systems. The company was previously using a paper-based, manually intensive system. Jobs would be printed off the system, left in the in-trays for Direct Labour Operatives to pick up, take out on the road with them and prioritise jobs manually. This literally meant that operatives would have numerous pieces of paper they would scribble on to prioritise their daily jobs. These could often get lost or priority jobs could sometimes get overlooked due to human error.

“Our existing performance was already over 98% and our customer surveys revealed that 99.8% of the work was being carried out to satisfactory standard. However, we wanted to find ways to continually improve, as well as streamline our internal processes. We wanted to ensure we got things right first time, and have the ability to monitor the way we are working,” said Jas Sidhu, Property Services Manager (Strategic), for Moorlands Housing. “We did some research into handheld communications and what tools our operatives needed. It’s important to work with a partner that understands the housing sector and property management market. That’s why we selected Pervasic for the mobilisation side. They have a deep sector expertise in this market. The MobileOne platform is highly robust and the software is flexible so that we could customise it to our requirements.”

However, Moorlands Housing didn’t stop at just mobilising its field-based operators. The company wanted to automate as much of the processes as possible, including its back end systems in order to streamline processes, efficiency, savings and service.
“Our operatives carry a lot of materials on their vans and it’s easy to forget what they have and haven’t got in stock,” added Sidhu. “We linked the Pervasic PDAs with our stock ordering system. This means an operative can click on a ‘van stock’ icon on the PDA to see what they have in stock in the van and, as they complete a job and use materials, the replenishment requirement is automatically updated to our back end system. We send a weekly update to Travis Perkins, our stock provider, to replace materials used. We then took this a step further and provided the option of pro-active ordering on the PDA. Now, rather than waiting for a part to come in, we have all the stock items we use from Travis Perkins stock catalog on the PDAs, so operatives can pro-actively order what they need. Furthermore, we’ve worked on XML interfacing with our ordering system at the back end and moved to e-invoicing.”

Pervasic enables real time information, enabling operatives to progress and close down a job when completed. The voids and planned operatives can view jobs up to a week in advance, and manage their materials ordering requirements. Operatives don’t need to come into the office to pick up paperwork anymore. By gaining more autonomy and more flexibility, they’ve also encountered a higher sense of job satisfaction due to higher levels of customer service levels. Unlike many mobilisation options, a major distinction is the ability Pervasic provides in linking to multiple back end systems, thus allowing integration of existing and future applications. The solution consists of a familiar and intuitive PDA, which links operatives in the field wirelessly to the Moorlands multiple back end systems, ensuring real time scheduling of appointments and secure recording and transfer of data.

The system went live on 2 April this year to 38 Direct Labour Operatives and 16 office staff., Moorlands Housing wanted to streamline its processes even further. The company linked the monitoring of its day to day repairs in the Metrix solution from Computer Software Group & Field Service Management with its asset management system, called Keystone from CCSiT. By linking the two together, Moorlands had full visibility into the nature of its stock, allowing Moorlands to proactively manage its assets.

“Some of our older properties require specially trained staff to attend to call outs, such as those properties with asbestos,” said Sidhu. “Because we linked our systems, we can make certain that asbestos trained staff are assigned to specific jobs. This enables us to ensure we are upholding Health and Safety service levels. Furthermore, the system enables jobs to be reassigned if need be. If an operative can’t finish a job, they can reassign it to a colleague, which enables us to know which staff are working on which jobs at any one time. The system has built in intelligence to understand our business rules. If a customer is not home at an agreed appointment time, and we have a ‘no access’ response, the system reassigns the job to the right team. It also alerts us if operatives are stuck in traffic, running late or had a vehicle break down, which enables us to proactively keep our customers informed.”

Moorlands Housing designed the system from scratch to suit its specific requirements. This means if the company’s business changes or restructures, it is flexible to accommodate change quickly and easily without restrictions. Moorlands was also careful to ensure it had the full buy in of its operatives and met the requirements of its customers. In fact, customer feedback was solicited through focus groups. One key area of customer input was the request for passwords for security purposes, particularly for the more vulnerable residents. Customers can give their own security password when making an appointment. When a Moorlands Housing operative turns up at a resident’s front door, the password is on the PDA and the operative can identify himself as a genuine operative. Appointments can also be scheduled down to the minute to fit in with school runs and hospital appointments.
“Some of our operatives are in their 50s and there’s a tendency to think that introducing new technology will be too disruptive to changing the way people are used to working,” added Sidhu. “However, we involved them from day one through focus groups and custom involvement. Our operatives just want to do their jobs. They don’t want to have to deal with paperwork. We’ve essentially taken away all of their headaches around administration, and it’s given us an incredibly powerful management platform in terms of automation, performance, safety and visibility.”

Moving forward, Moorlands Housing is working closely with CORGI & NICEIC and plans to put all of its gas and electrical forms on the Pervasic handheld PDAs by next April, developing web mail for its sub-contractors and gas engineers.
“It’s completely restructured the way we work,” concluded Sidhu. “Everyone is linked so we can see how each other work, anticipate stock needs, uphold safety, intelligently assign and reschedule jobs, and automate our purchasing and invoicing requirements. No one else in the housing sector has taken mobilisation to this level. It’s completely transformed our business.”

About Pervasic Ltd
Pervasic Ltd is the UK leader in advanced mobile data solutions for both the private and public sector. The company’s MobileOne platform-based solutions deliver the market’s most technically advanced products and service offerings, enabling organisations to dramatically improve productivity and control for mobile workers, and significantly enhance overall business efficiencies. Pervasic’s customer base includes major blue chip organisations, ranging from some of the world’s largest manufacturers to global transport ticketing specialists, vehicle telematics experts and specialist security services. The company operates primarily in the Break & Fix, Distribution and Logistics, Construction, and Housing Management markets, as well as working with numerous UK Local Authorities. Privately held, Pervasic is supported by established private equity institutions with majority investment from Frontiers Capital. www.pervasic.com

For further information, please contact:
Vanessa Land
Devonshire Marketing
Tel: +44(0)870 242 7469
Email: vanessa@devonshiremarketing.com

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