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Trafford Housing

"We are still on the path to excellence, but with iAnywhere's technology, we are getting there."

Mike Corfield
Head of Policy and New Initiative
Trafford Housing

As a not-for-profit registered charity, Trafford Housing supplies and manages quality affordable homes for people in need. When it decided to modernize an existing paper-based home repairs system, Trafford Housing chose the Civica Servitor Job management system powered by Sybase iAnywhere.

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Customer Service Improvements Drive Innovation
Trafford Housing Trust (THT) is an independent local housing company set up by Manchester Council. THT supplies and manages quality affordable homes, and gives housing advice and support to people in need, primarily within the Trafford area of greater Manchester. As a not-for-profit registered charity, all of THT's income and any surpluses are put back into Housing, Housing Services and the development of neighbourhoods in Trafford.

THT employs a repair and maintenance team consisting of 27 plumbers, electricians and carpenters who are responsible for everything from repairing burst pipes to fitting smoke alarms in the 9,500 residential properties managed by THT. The team responds to 30,000 repairs per year for residents.

THT saw the need to improve its customer satisfaction rates and ensure repairs were completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. In short, the existing paper-based system required modernizing, and a fully automated system would reduce back office administration efforts. 

Scheduling appointments with residents was often a problem as it was difficult for maintenance technicians to know how long each job would take, and subsequently, when they would be available for the next project. Residents would often have to wait at home for hours or even days for the appropriate maintenance team member to arrive.  The result was that the technicians would sometimes arrive at a property to find they could not gain access because the resident was no longer there.

Obviously, this was not the most efficient use of the maintenance team's time.  Several hours per day were being wasted with unnecessary travel, fruitless house calls and laborious administrative tasks. 

Mike Corfield, Head of Policy and New Initiative, explains, "Feedback from our customers showed that we had considerable room for improvement in response times to repair calls. We knew we needed to modernize our system and our approach."

Civica and Sybase iAnywhere Provide Real-time Job Scheduling
Based in the United Kingdom, the Civica group is one of the most experienced providers of consulting, software and managed services to the public sector and regulated services. Everything Civica does is focused on the local outcomes their customers need to achieve. THT selected Civica's Servitor Job management system for the automation of its repairs process. 

Servitor delivers real-time job scheduling and customer data to maintenance team members in the field using today's mobile technology.  Civica's preferred mobility partner is Sybase iAnywhere with its M-Business AnywhereTM solution. M-Business provides a single platform that supports all current and future mobile applications used by THT. The iAnywhere platform is device and network agnostic, and allows the network or devices to be changed without the need to modify the application.

Training on the New System Becomes a Team Effort with Positive Results
THT previously relied on a paper-based system for many years, and with the move to a mobile computing solution, it carried out an IT skills audit to identify and score the maintenance team members' varying levels of technical knowledge. Leveraging this internal expertise, THT engaged the higher scoring staff members to assist in the training of their less technically-minded colleagues. 

The training team encouraged operatives to explore their devices by playing games supplied with the devices. Once they were comfortable using the devices, the technical team showed the operatives how to use the relevant THT applications. The benefits of the solution were explained to the operatives, including measure that addressed their very safety.  THT's head office would be aware if an operative had not ‘called in' or registered on the network after a certain period of time – providing an additional ‘safety net' for lone workers.

This ramp-up period served not only to train the users on the solution, but make them more comfortable using it in daily activities.  "It was essential to get buy-in from the users in order to ensure an effective rollout of the mobility solution," said Corfield. "The training team helped us to do this and encouraged adoption of the mobile devices."

Customer and Employee Satisfaction Levels Soar
THT's customer satisfaction rates are now at an all time high of 96% from 75% just a few years ago. The real-time nature of the job scheduling means that residents can be given specific appointment times for the maintenance team to visit. This ensures the maintenance team can gain access to properties at minimal inconvenience to the residents.

The solution also provides near real-time updates back to the Head Office and ensures more accurate customer data is supplied to the operatives. "Our back office administration has also been greatly reduced, as the team has no paperwork to process or operatives' handwriting to decipher, "said Corfield. 

The more efficient workflow process has resulted in operatives contacting the head office for more work when they have completed their designated work for the day. And as an advantage to the individual technicians, their technical skills have improved, which provides them with a competitive advantage for future job roles.  

"The maintenance team has fully embraced the mobility solution, and operatives are particularly pleased about the reduction in paperwork that has come about as a result of the implementation," says Corfield. "We have also seen significant cost savings by having a paperless office, as we no longer require the paper and toner that was used to print multiple copies of job schedules and customer data." 

"The improvements Trafford Housing are implementing continue, with new avenues of efficiency to explore and more customer to serve". But the Sybase iAnywhere and Civica solutions create a solid foundation of success. Corfield summarizes, "We are still on the path to excellence, but with iAnywhere's technology, we are getting there."

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