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Taking your social housing repairs service back in house. Now is that taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut?
In the last few weeks, there have been a succession of larger RSLs and social housing groups, making decisions to bring responsive repairs back in house, or expand their existing handyperson teams. These include Midland Heart, Muir HA have bought one, Affinity Sutton leave Osborne after contract ends.
It's difficult to know if these are all driven by an agenda to drive up quality or drive down average cost per property. Both of these can be controlled very well internally, although overheads of controlling your own workforce, need to be factored in. We all know that a saving of 20% VAT is up for grabs, but what cost the other prerequisites to control the operation?
It would be great to be able to look externally to see how the private repairs sector uses technology to manage its operations and control costs. In my experience, unfortunately, much of the private sector, some big names too, still rely on spreadsheets, Access databases and T-Cards (anyone remember those) to control work carried out. There are some really big examples I could name, but wont in order to contain the embarrassment. It is a fact that DLO's inside social housing tend to have better application software than outside.
I've worked with many DLO's and the core application needed is a flexible Contractor module, with good stock functionality, and good interfaces to client housing systems and mobile. A flexible mobile system that is reliable, proven with existing user operative volumes in the same range as required is essential. Proven in or out of coverage, mobile pushes administration to its source and enables electrical, gas safety and other certificates to be generated there too. The holy trinity, to go all Catholic on us, is formed by the addition of dynamic scheduling.
A move to an expansion of an internal workforce needs to take into account the costs of the above applications, plus additional back office administration required. Satisfaction can be improved and costs reduced by the use of good processes, SMS and emails to keep repair customers informed. Good integration into a customer self service portal also makes an impact, if sufficient numbers are provided a comfortable and efficient environment, to channel shift.
Great KPIs are the essential tool to manage operative productivity, costs and compliance with priorities and SLA's. This is one area often missed by RSL's procuring new systems, also one where decent off the shelf reports are often thin on the ground. Ad-Hoc reporting is also essential, and must be easily available. Knowing which vans are incorrectly stocked, who takes longest on average on breaks, why do certain operatives visit the stores more often, where did we fit that type of boiler, now found to have a vulnerability?
While new DLO's probably don't need sledgehammers to crack nuts, sometimes they will need good advice to pick the right tools for the job.
Related Post: Why the reluctance in housing, to Bring Your Own Device?
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Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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