1st Touch Mobile Technology Helps Stevenage Homes Achieve 2-Stars And Promising Prospects For Improvement Status

August 19, 2009 -- Stevenage Homes, the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) of Stevenage Borough Council has implemented a mobile workforce technology system for its responsive repairs operatives, from 1st Touch ( www.1sttouch.com).

Following the implementation of the mobile solution, the latest inspection by the Audit Commission led to Stevenage Homes being awarded a “2 Star Promising” rating. Stevenage Homes feels that the new mobile repairs system contributed to their enhanced rating.

As Brent O Halloran, Director of Property Services, says: “In our latest inspection from the Audit Commission, we received a two stars and promising prospects for improvement rating. Our investment in the repairs mobile project has been a key component in delivering on our efficiency and performance improvement agenda.”

Stevenage Homes’ mobile response workforce undertakes around 30,000 repair jobs a year across 8300 properties plus Council leaseholds. Implementing a mobile solution had been identified as an opportunity to improve delivery of the repairs and maintenance service as part of a drive towards 2-Star status.

1st Touch was chosen to provide the mobile solution after a stringent evaluation of a number of suppliers, carried out according to the council’s procurement policy, which looked at deliverability, system functionality, scalability, support, usability and cost.

As Robert Dent CEO of 1st Touch notes, this farsighted decision seems to have paid off: “Management at Stevenage Homes identified a clear vision of what they needed to do to well in advance of the inspection. Part of this was to implement a mobile workforce solution for responsive repairs operatives. We were delighted they chose 1st Touch and even more delighted to hear that the implementation of the system has contributed to them achieving a 2 Star Promising rating. Ultimately though, the real winners will be Stevenage Homes’ residents who will notice an even more efficient and responsive level of service.”

Using 1st Touch’s smart communication technology, the new system, replaces all paper-based form completion and significantly reduces office visits. Jobs are sent out electronically to mobile workers’ handheld devices, which then collect the results and send them back to base.

With the mobile solution integrated into a Northgate back-office system and Optitime scheduling software, Stevenage Homes hopes to significantly reduce the time taken to complete repairs by weeks. By reducing time to job completion, customer satisfaction is also expected to be significantly improved by the provision of a “right-first-time” service to clients.

As jobs are distributed to operatives, one at a time, the business gains much greater control over avoiding missed appointments. With feedback delivered back to the business immediately, the call centre has up-to-date knowledge of each job when answering customer queries. They will also be able to make any further appointments required whilst the customer is still on the phone.

Kate Gascoigne, Project Manager acting on behalf of Stevenage Homes added: “An internal review and an external audit highlighted areas where we could improve the service. This mobile project was a key part of a wide-ranging project to achieve a 2-Star rating for our repairs service. At the same time, the mobile implementation was a valuable step towards desirable a right-first-time repairs service, when operatives will more regularly be able to complete a repair on the first visit.”

Glenda McLellan, Business Manager (Property Repairs) states: “As well as fitting the prescribed criteria, 1st Touch presented as the most knowledgeable supplier about our business and what we are trying to achieve. The company had a package that almost completely met our needs, and could be bespoke changed to fit. And we were impressed by the technology behind the solution too. In short, having piloted this technology, it is clear that our operatives are able to work for our clients when previously they would have been tied up doing paperwork. We are eager to now role this out to the rest of the workforce. No doubt, this improvement was recognised in the Inspection.”

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