Submitted by Editor on 17th August 2015
Based in Yorkshire, Broadacres Housing Association provides a full range of housing services to over 5600 homes across both rural areas and market towns. The repairs and maintenance operation is a major element of the services provided. By introducing 1st Touch mobile workforce software, Broadacres has derived significant and quantifiable productivity benefits for its repairs operation.
As delivering the highest possible levels of service is the key priority at Broadacres, a decision was taken three years ago to bring the repairs service in-house. This afforded Broadacres the opportunity to look for a mobile solution that could support the work of their responsive repairs operatives in the field. In doing so, Broadacres foresaw real opportunities, to obtain significant efficiencies from using mobile software. This led to a comprehensive review of the market to evaluate the solutions available. The outcome was a decision to go with 1st Touch mobile workforce software.
As Chris Fawcett ICT manager at Broadacres says, “After a review of the market we chose 1st Touch as they had an existing integration with Aareon, the Housing Management system that we use. In addition, whilst our Head Office is in Northallerton, we also have stock in Hambleton, Darlington, Harrogate, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby, York, Leeds, Redcar and Cleveland. So, with our stock spread over such a large territory, including many rural areas, we needed to find an offline solution. 1st Touch proved ideal here as they have a Smart Airtime feature that only sends information is short encrypted bursts when a signal is available.
“We also needed it to be an enterprise mobile solution; one that was scalable across the full range of services we deliver. 1st Touch was available with a wide range of modules on an Enterprise license basis so in effect it ticked all these boxes and was therefore the system that we decided to implement in support of our repairs operatives.”
Since go live, the system has worked well in practise. As Tom Gallafant Business Analyst at Broadacres notes, “1st Touch has worked well in practise. Currently, we use the Windows mobile version of the software running on an MC65 device from Motorola. In the future, we are looking at extending our use of 1st Touch to include its multiplatform device capabilities so that we can also use the system with iPhones, iPads as well as Android devices.
“As 1st Touch integrates seamlessly with our Aareon Housing Management system, we are able to create repairs orders easily. These are then passed through to our scheduling system and directed to the operatives wherever they may be either around the area or at home supporting our out of hours commitment. Overall, with the new system, we have saved a great deal in terms of fuel usage and on vehicle maintenance. In addition, 1st Touch helps us in the rural communities as it enables the operatives to carry on working whether or not there is a data signal. 1st Touch also helps us to push our working practises as it allows us to fill out customer surveys directly with the tenant on the doorstep and for gas and electrical operatives to send back data to fill in certificates.”
Katherine Proctor, Repairs Manager or Broadacres Housing Association is ideally placed to see the benefits delivered by the system in the field. She notes, “1st Touch software has had a positive impact on the delivery of the services we provide. In short, the system allows us to have greater visibility of what the operatives are working on and their performance. So by monitoring their information, we are able to capture a lot of KPIs such as the ‘number of first time fixes’ or where there was no access possible.
“The software also allows us to have an automatic link with Jewsons for ordering materials. The operatives carry a given amount of van stock which is listed on their PDAs. When they require replenishment, they can place an order through the PDA which goes automatically to Jewsons who have the goods ready for collection next time the operative is passing the branch.”
Overall, the most quantifiable benefit at Broadacres has been in terms of increased productivity. As Katherine Proctor notes, “The biggest benefit is raised productivity. Since the 1st Touch system went live, the number of jobs performed by each operative has increased in some areas from 4.5 jobs a day to 6.5 jobs per day. This has improved our overall efficiency significantly.”
Broadacres is looking at ways it can expand the use of 1st Touch mobile software to other areas of the business. As Chris Fawcett explains, “With the success of 1st Touch in Repairs and Asset Management and having an enterprise agreement in place, we are now looking at the other modules available to us for use across the range of services we deliver in housing. These include tenancy management, estate management and anti-social behaviour management modules. In addition, benefit welfare is a big challenge for the organisation and it’s important to meet the customers and understand their needs; so having a mobile solution in the housing services and income management side of the organisation is going to be really important.”
Robert Dent CEO of 1st Touch believes that Broadacres has put the needs of tenants first throughout its commitment to mobile technology. In his view, “It’s rewarding to see a Housing Association drive its commitment to service quality so effectively. By increasing the number of jobs per day so significantly, it not only boosts efficiency gains and productivity but it raises the levels of service delivered to the tenants. In effect then it’s a win win situation.
“We are also encouraged to note that Broadacres management are assessing other ways in which the software can enhance the services they provides to tenants. This highly professional commitment to quality is an excellent example of best practise and we look forward to working with them closely as they develop and evolve their use of mobile technology.”
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1st Touch helped us to design and build a first rate system that will not only transform what we do but add a whole new positive dimension to the customer experience we deliver.
Director of ICT
The 1st Touch solution ticked all the boxes in respect of our pre-defined criteria. In particular, we liked their approach to implementation and flexibility in delivering
Systems Development Manager