Final Report – A .Housing Association by Mark Hillary – 6 June 2018

 

Section 1- Introduction

Following an introduction to the HA’s CEO, by Professor Tony Bendell and it was agree that it would be mutually beneficial to carry out a Six Sigma project to look at a service area for the Housing Association (HA).  The chosen subject was Customer Satisfaction with the Repairs and Maintenance Service.

 

As the volume of the work grew over the year this background and outcomes report is accompanied by Section 10. Good practice Appendix, drawing on the research the Project Team carried out across the Industry.

     

 

  1. Project Charter

Brief Stakeholder analysis.  (See more in Define.)

Main Customers; Tenants, and then a range of Staff, Partners, Suppliers and Contractors. .

Running the Project

Original Project Team

Head of Asset Management & development,  Customer Service Manager.  Customer Service Officer. – Specialist Housing Accommodation Officer.  Maintenance Officer. DLO Operative. – Communications and Governance Officer. Project Manager – Mark Hillary (MH)

On resources it was agreed to meet for 2 hours every two weeks depending on availability and the delivery of the service. .

Timeline. 

Project was planned to take about 9 months but in the end took over a year. Availability issues, clear definition and lack of useful data all contributed to the longer time taken. However this was a very thorough review and the work to hear the voice of the customer probably slowed down the process but made the conclusions much more valid.

Initial Meeting with Sponsor – 7.2.17, followed by 18 Project meetings up until 25.4.18 (Notes available on record for all.) Range of presentations. Also 4 tenant meetings to clarify customer requirements.

 

3.Methodology.  The Project would use a DMAIC (T) format common in Six sigma so;

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyse
  • Improve
  • Control
  • (Transfer)

At each part of DMAIC will offer a Gate review to the Sponsor, to review progress and may try to combine parts as time is tight.

Also looked at the Lean Principles; Value, the Value Stream, Flow, Pull, and the Pursuit of Perfection. Also to consider available Data to establish performance and control methods.

 

Section 4 – Define

The Project Team were able to come up with a Quod of Aims

Project Outline (Quad of Aims)
1.Purpose

Identify strength & weaknesses

Learning for future projects

Improve R&M

Improve process generally

Improve performance management

 

2.Stakeholders & benefits

Customers; Tenants & Residents

Staff

Suppliers

Partners

 

3.Deliverable

Improve process and finance

Audit proof

Efficiency saving to offset the cost of 1 days volunteering for each employee, as part of Tuntum’s commitment to Social Value.

 

4.Measures of success

Vfm

Customer satisfaction increases

Staff satisfaction increases

Improve time taken

Improve right first time

Culture of continuous improvement and learning

 

 

The initial definition was to look at;

Repairs and Maintenance including gas servicing (as good practice). To consider the full processes; Customer contacting è dealing with the call è issuing order è completing the job è customer satisfaction èpaying for the job. Would not consider planned maintenance in this project.

Later it became apparent that this Definition was too general and hampered the Projects as the Project tried to fix everything in this major area. So agreed at the Project Meeting on 12.12.17 to re-define the Project as;

How to improve the Customer satisfaction with the Repairs and Maintenance service. 

This tighter definition was agreed by the Project Sponsor.

 

  1. Measure and Analyse
  2. I. Customer satisfaction. (Background)

Thomas (2008) see 3. Good practice report. Highlights that many organisations spend lots of time collecting data, when they may be better off evaluating what they already have.  Throughout the Project the Customer Satisfaction data was uncertain.

Points for customers;

 

  • Was it easy to report the repair?
  • The Associations office staff were polite and helpful?
  • Was an appointment made to attend the repair?
  • If so, was the appointment kept?
  • The person who carried out the repair was polite and helpful?
  • The repair was done on time?
  • If additional work was needed was this explained to you?
  • Was the work satisfactory?
  • Did the contractor clean up after the job?
  • Was the repair completed on the first visit?

 

Given best practice above the Team took part in several exercises to consider Improvements to present working methods. These included; Value Stream Mapping, Brainstorming and 5 whys?, Root cause analysis, Affinity and Interrelationship exercises, Risk Mapping, & Scout,

Also in the Sub Projects; House of quality and Control charts.

See the conclusion section for the combined results of all these.

  1. ii Process

Considerable work was done in mapping the “As is” processes, see report 3.  After the Project stopped trying to fix everything and concentrated on Customer satisfaction, the clearest issue was the initial contact and the up to 25 minute wait, and then a further 10 minutes waiting to diagnose the initial call. See also the House of Quality exercise later but clear that; Systems integration is a very difficult technical exercise and see recommendation that some expert backup mat be needed to really achieve success on linking process, people and technology here.

Figure 1 To Be Process.

 

Three sections here , with the first one the key to the first level of customer satisfaction with prompt answering, diagnosis and an appointment , within a reasonable time, certainly not 25 or 35 minutes.

5iii. Root causes  To try to establish how customer satisfaction may be increased the Team looked at Root causes through a Fishbone exercise and 5 Whys? , see below.

Figure 2- Fishbone 1

This was re done as the Definition changed but the results were similar, see later.

Figure 3- Fishbone 2.

5 iv. Brainstorming .Notes of all the issues as they were raised in the initial project meetings. Then sorted by use of Affinity diagram into the main areas of this part of the business.

 

  • Customer Satisfaction is at 73% but the target id rising to 85%.
  • Freepost survey for every repair, what number back?
  • Priorities; Emergencies Repairs; under 24 hours, 5 day, 21 days any others. How much time to do a job.
  • Diagnostics
  • Would be good to get tenants to send a picture of the repair. Missing skirting so it could be matched before getting on site. Gas fires chamfered edges
  • Self-service portal
  • Right first time
  • If I am available or passing. Where workers live and which side of Nottingham is the job.
  • Often feel like you are going in blind
  • Lads can only do the job based on information we get
  • Multi Trades
  • Jobs log
  • Use Whats App?
  • Phones not compatible, the old Nokia were? Number came straight on. Android
  • Tenant changing their numbers. Need to capture new numbers
  • Get quite a bit of abuse
  • Good tenant who look after property don’t appear to get better service than those who abuse the property.
  • Compare to City Homes.
  • PVC locking system and gear box
  • Front door locks ad not doing them?
  • Doors and mortice locks
  • Kitchen cupboard doors
  • Kitchens 25 years old? Decent homes
  • Where is the property? Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Notts.
  • Vans and Trades
  • Data; money, % abandoned number of no access total length of time to complete repair
  • % of each type completed
  • Length of journey for each repair.
  • A said he is able to start work from home with his van.
  • Discussed a string diagram of A’s typical journeys and doing a sample of this.
  • Link to website project
  • Flexible working
  • 20% won’t let you in at 9:00am
  • Work 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Asset information
  • Inventory and property
  • Asset information on each property is not god.
  • Stock condition survey
  • Void stage
  • Stock swap with Riverside
  • Workshop/ Lock up H&S and working conditions wood cutting.
  • How many repairs
  • Orders per month?

 

  • Working week 37 hours Monday to Saturday morning. Business need

 

Figure 4- Affinity exercise.

 

 

The six main areas of this part of the business were;

  • Asset Information
  • Stock
  • Process
  • On site
  • Systems
  • Customer satisfaction

Figure 5 – The use of an interrelationship diagram showed a great number of connections but nothing significant about how the organisation operated here.

5v. Risks

Figure 6- Risk Map

In the High Likelihood, High Impact risks are; Resistance to change and staff uncooperative with change. Not being resourced properly and Failure to manage the DLO. Also high likelihood but less impact is Not enough data.

 

  1. vi. Scout.

Brainstorming exercise to look for range of; negative, positive, improvement and what’s next issues with an organisation.

Figure 7- Scout

  • Negative North – Organisational culture is resistant to change. Need communication buy in all the way to the top of the organisation. Equipment not fit for purpose. Keep buying the wrong things like new phones.
  • Sunny South. Good customer service, compliments on this. Professional and friendly service. DLO is an asset. Mainly a good relationship with tenants.
  • Exciting East – Improve process. Have efficient repairs service. Buy the right equipment. Get better communications with Contractors.
  • What next west. Manage Contractor/DLO demand more. Create as Asset register and update all the time. New system for diagnosis and scheduling.

 

 

  1. v ii – Site visit by MH to the Customer Service Centre 8.11.17- Main issues.

 

  • No pop screen, all manual
  • Could do with two screens to see the customer and the service simultaneously.
  • Active Housing portal and SDM software may make it better
  • Really good customer skills

 

  • Completions brought back by DLO, they need to do these themselves (need PDAs)
  • IT but still have to write repairs sheets
  • Really old tatty book of 100s of SOR codes
  • All kept going by skill and good will of team.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Sub Projects. Much of the measure and analyse work was done in two sub projects 1. Voice of the Customer and 2. DLO productivity.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  1. i-Sub Project 1. (Green Belt) – by AI – Summary – May 2018
  2. i.1 – the Voice of the Customer, involving the main stakeholder – the Customers.

Project owner – AI

The main methodology here was Quality function deployment, developed in Japan in the 1960s to help transform the voice of the customer [VOC] into engineering characteristics for a product.

Again the sub project adopted a DMAIC (T) approach overall. Define on 22 November 2017, with Measure and analyse, then Improve and Control in workshops with Stakeholder and Project Team. Eventually transferred back to the main Project for conclusions in May 2018.

Stakeholder review 1.11.17

Discussion with AI, MH, Project Team and CEO. Good range of operational staff; The DLO, the CSC, Senior. Senior management buy in, contact with Board & Operations committee. Competent Project Team. However a real lack of customers – Magnify event eventually organised for   (7& 12.12.17) and more to follow.  Issue sorted by Stakeholder events. However, has to be said only a small but committed Focus group but views mostly similar to wider direction of issues.

DEFINE – Involving stakeholders in process review of repairs reporting

There are several processes that make up the HA’s  responsive repairs service, from reporting the issue and logging it onto housing management software, to assigning an operative and completing the repair, to receiving feedback and measuring satisfaction with the job. These processes involve many stakeholders, both internal and external.

Internal stakeholders

A tenant’s first point of contact when reporting a repair is the Customer Service team, normally via phone or email. The Customer Services Manager and a Customer Service Assistant were represented on the project group and attended regularly.

Many of the repair issues are assigned to a Direct Labour Operative (DLO) to complete. We attempted to include a DLO in the project group, but interest waned; attendance dropped to zero (key measure) after the first few months and was not insisted upon by the line manager.

External stakeholders

The HA uses contractors to complete certain types of repairs (e.g. gas maintenance). Although contractor management fell within the scope of the project, and was identified as a potential area for improvement of the process, it would have been unwieldy and unrealistic to attempt to involve them in the project itself, and discussions may have caused a conflict of interest or even defensiveness.

The major external stakeholder in this project is the tenants themselves, who interact with the process at the beginning (reporting the repair), middle (setting up and keeping appointments with the DLO/contractors; multiple appointments may be required) and end (satisfaction with the finished repair).

GATE REVIEW (7.12.17) with Black Belt, and reported to Project Board and Sponsor.

MEASURE

Tenant input

The initial project attempted to look at the repair reporting process as a whole – this was found to be an overwhelmingly large task, and so the scope was narrowed to focus on improving customer satisfaction with the process. The revision of the project title part-way through meant there was quite a tight timescale to try to involve tenants. We used the existing tenant scrutiny panel to form a focus group; this was successful as the group is already very engaged and keen to offer input. We also contacted two former members of the panel, who have been known to engage in projects previously. Due to travel and health commitments it wasn’t possible to have them at the focus group, but they were able to feed in via email.

There was neither time nor resources to recruit other tenants for a wider focus group, as this type of exercise generally involves a protracted campaign including mail-outs, incentives and travel arrangements. We attempted to involve additional tenants electronically via Facebook and a link to Surveymonkey in the fortnightly tenant e-bulletin. This yielded very few results, which is thought to be due in part to changes in Facebook’s News Feed algorithms that have disadvantaged business profiles across the board, plus additional concern among Facebook users following a large-scale data breach. It was also not possible to embed a relevant survey into the body of the bulletin email – it had to be done either via a link to Surveymonkey or by requesting emails, and in general in marketing practices, additional ‘click-throughs’ reduce engagement significantly.

Tenants Meetings

  1. 7 December 2017 – Scutiny group
  2. 7 December 2017 _ V & C
  3. 12 December – Further meeting
  4. 14 February 2018 – Process Pass the Parcel

 

Figure 8 – Process Pass the Parcel

The tenant focus group was used to create a ‘House of Quality’. The group came up with six key priorities for what they would expect out of a responsive repairs service:

  1. Flexible appointments to suit residents, with a reminder 24 hours before
  2. Good communication by preferred method
  3. Operatives turning up when they said they would
  4. Good-quality repair
  5. Health & Safety adherence by staff and contractors
  6. Understanding residents needs and concerns

The project team noted with interest that ‘right first time’ did not appear in their final list. While this is often something housing associations strive to achieve in their repairs service, it seems that this group of tenants valued communication, flexibility, reliability and understanding over getting the job done as fast as possible.

Each factor was then cross-referenced with the organisation’s top operational requirements for delivering a responsive repairs service:

  1. Central control of whole process
  2. Book appointments at time of reporting with clear time slots
  3. Know where operatives are at all times
  4. Training
  5. Integrations of diagnostic, scheduling and reporting systems
  6. Organisational culture

The factors were weighted according to how important each operational requirement was to achieving each desired outcome for tenants, which gave the scores below:

  1. Central control of whole process – 16
  2. Book appointments at time of reporting with clear time slots – 24
  3. Know where operatives are at all times – 26
  4. Training – 24
  5. Integrations of diagnostic, scheduling and reporting systems – 25
  6. Positive organisational culture – 32

Satisfaction data

Reliable, existing satisfaction data proved to be difficult to obtain, and many conflicting figures were pulled from various reports. The following are all extracts from papers presented at one meeting of the Operations Committee:

Tenant satisfaction with repairs: Q1 – 77%, Q2 – 77%, Q3 – 85% (HA’s  own KPI tables)

Tenant satisfaction with repairs: Q3 – 74% (MEL Survey dashboard)

Q3 performance data is not available due to temporary suspension of the MEL survey; repairs satisfaction for the end of October is on target at 85% (Asset Management report)

Reasons for dissatisfaction with repairs, according to data from the MEL Survey were: 47% duration, 28% quality of repair, 19% process, 5% code of conduct.

 

ANALYSE

The main weighted issue from the House of Quality exercise was by far ‘positive organisational culture’ at 32, (* See Review )meaning this is the most important feature needed in order to deliver the kind of repairs service wanted by tenants. The project team discussed what ‘positive organisational culture’ might mean in terms of staff attitudes, emphasis on continuous improvement, and willingness to change – many of factors discussed also featured in the ‘potential risks to the project’ exercise.

The second-most important issue was knowing where operatives are – historically the HA has not practised any kind of centralised control of their DLO, which means the workforce may not be being utilised as efficiently as possible. Operatives have been in charge of their own diaries; this has been recently changed so that appointments can be booked for them, and diaries can be tracked, though this change was met with some resistance to begin with.

Due to issues with conflicting data that were never satisfactorily resolved, meaningful analysis of these figures was not possible.

*Review. (9.5.18) MH The House of Quality was updated and the scores done again to reflect the weighting of the customer requirements.

House of quality analysis

As part of the  Green Belt Project we met with Stakeholders on several occasions in Focus Groups and gained their guidance on the ranking of what was particularly important to them as customers.

Figure 9 – House of Quality

Completed HoQ used in this Project. Started 9.4.18 and completed 23 May 2018.

Customer requirements (CR) (in ranking order)

  1. Flexible Appointments to suit residents with reminder 24 hours before
  2. Good communications
  3. Turn up when they said they would
  4. Quality of the work
  5. Health & Safety adherence
  6. Understand resident’s needs and concerns

 

 

 

Operation requirements (OR) These were agreed by the Project team as the best way to deliverer the Customer requirements based on their broad experience.

  1. Central control of whole process
  2. Book appointments at once with clear time slots
  3. Know where operatives are at all times
  4. Training
  5. Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems.
  6. Change the Organisation’s Culture.

So takin the customer score (28) and x by the score given for each item, and then totally the columns, gives an overall Total score and %.

Rank Customers Score 1 (OR) 2 3 4 5 6
1 (CR) 28  x 3 9 9 1 9 3
2 23  x 3 1 3 1 9 1
3 21  x 3 3 9 1 3 1
4 14  x 1 1 1 9 1 9
5 12  x 3 1 1 9 1 9
6 11  x 3 9 3 3 1 9
    Weighted scores          
  = 84 252 252 28 252 84
    69   23   69 23 207 23
    63   63  189 21  63 21
    14   14  14 126  14 126
    36   12 12 108  12 108
    33   99 33 33 11 99
Total + 299

(6)

463 (=2) 463 (=2) 339

(5)

556

(1)

461

(4)

%   11.57 17.91 17.91 13.11 21.63 17.84

Matching the Customers’ requirements (CR) to the (OR) Operations requirements. Shows that at over 21% of the weighted result is 5. Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems.    Over 57% of the weighting is in this area plus; 2.Book appointments at once with clear time slots & 3.Know where operatives are at all times.

Benchmarking.

This is based on Project Teams knowledge of the Industry, and particular B’s expert involvement with  Manningham HA, and Project Teams and MH’s knowledge of local providers – NCH/Futures ranking. Recommending much more benchmarking with similar organisations to establish the true position.

Figure 10 Technical Evaluation

  1. Central control of whole process
  2. Book appointments at once with clear time slots
  3. Know where operatives are at all times
  4. Training
  5. Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems.
  6. Change the Organisation’s Culture.

Figure 11 Competitive evaluation

 

  1. Flexible Appointments to suit residents with reminder 24 hours before
  2. Good communications
  3. Turn up when they said they would
  4. Quality of the work
  5. Health & Safety adherence
  6. Understand resident’s needs and concerns

 

 

The Roof. (See below) To look at the positive and negative correlation between roof areas.

Again the Team quick to see strong correlation between 1 & 2, 1& 3, etc. However not so strong for Diagnostics and Training. Other where weak or no correlation left blank, although these could be specifically filled in to show weaker links.  See conclusions in final report.

 

Figure 12- House of Quality – the roof

Target Value.  (See below)

The Team were able to look at the issues and come up with immediate quick win targets for action. Example =2 Item Book appointments at once, (see 25 minute delay in first Value Stream map of initial process). RP (Registered provider standard target on appointments made and kept, which is clearly the Customer Satisfaction issue at the heart of this issue. Considerable Failure demand in a made appointment and no one turns up to do the job when waited at home.

Again see full report and recommendations.

Conclusions.  Good correlation between  5.Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems as highest  priority on weighted scores (559) as well as the lowest  benchmarked area on the Technical Evaluation.  Overall 57% of the weighting is with this area as well as 2.Book appointments at once with clear time slots & 3.Know where operatives are at all times

On Competitive evaluation, the benchmarking shows good performance in areas of; 2. Good communications, 3. Turn up when they said they would and 6. Understand resident’s needs and concerns. Efforts to make 1. Flexible Appointments to suit residents with reminder 24 hours before but hampered by manual system and 4. Quality of the work and 5. Health & Safety adherence, good but may be room for improvement.

IMPROVE

Several areas for improvement were identified:

  • Organisational culture change – around areas such as staff valuing continuous improvement instead of reacting with defensiveness; overcoming resistance to change; keeping staff and contractor focus on sensitivity to residents’ needs and respect for residents and their homes.
  • Control of DLO – centralised appointment management to maximise number of jobs for each operative each day; would also allow emergency repair issues to be dealt with more effectively by knowing which operative is closest or has best access
  • Better technology – software packages for diagnosing issues and automatically scheduling appointments exist and could be explored; initial hesitance is around cost and compatibility with existing housing management software, as integration of any new purchases would be key
  • Better data – there is currently confusion over customer satisfaction data across different reports, which makes analysis and appropriate response difficult
  • Keep staff involved – the Customer Service team in particular feel ignored even though as first point of contact they have a lot of value to add to discussions or improvements of this service

CONTROL

  • Diagnostic and/or scheduling software would allow further data to be gathered and analysed, such as number of jobs completed by each DLO each week
  • Centralised control of DLO (and contractor) appointments would allow maximisation of resources and better data collection
  • Management of DLO and contractors to ensure appropriate face-to-face service with residents
  • Regular training, including Health & Safety training, would reinforce the organisational commitment to compliance and quality and aim to improve staff adherence
  • Control charts

GATE Review 22.5.18. with Black Belt MH. By Email to Project Sponsor and Board.

Black belt review of the effectiveness of solutions to address customer’s needs.  See Section 8 in evidence matrix.

Tuntum has a well-established Scrutiny Panel for Task and Finish projects. Repairs and maintenance is a very transactional process and clear that it is poor at the front end. The call handing and putting out orders to a roaming work force is not coordinated. Tuntum is quite reasonably reluctant to spend resources on an expensive solution and tries to knit together a way of working that relies on staff experience and god will. However, the service is not as good as it could be.

Efforts to introduce technology to this have been frustrated. However, the level of satisfaction is rising but not proved to be at the 85% level shown in some reports.

Clear commitment to listening to the Voice of the Customer. Hope House of Quality will show techniques that can be effective and hope they will use it again.

RISKS. Looking at the original Risks to the Project identified on 12.12.17, see risk report.

Had a Level 4 risk on failure to manage the “customer’s unreasonable expectations”. Relevant here and really more about fulfilling these expectations. Identified that the service could be much Leaner, joined up and productivity raised. Risk with BB. Interesting that stakeholder communication not identified here.

Review of Change Management

From the main project able to review. Clear quick wins here and the recruitment of a volunteer (small) army. HoQ and the result could be translated into a strategic vision. Next key issue would be the removal of the barriers preventing the customers wants being translated into better process. See item 5 of Operational requirements on HoQ. Not at the point to institute change at this stage until Operation Committee commit to changes and invoke a sense of urgency.

TRANSFER

Findings from the tenant involvement process were fed into the main project of reviewing the repairs process. The factors identified by tenants as the most important features of a satisfactory repairs service were considered when forming recommendations for process improvements.

Final report to be submitted at end of May 2018 for Operations Committee and Board.

See Also –

  • Magnify – Tuntum Housing Scrutiny Panel – Review into why the return rate of repair satisfaction forms is so low. November 2015.
  • Customer Service Consultation – Tuntum Housing – November 2017 Initiate
  • DLO VFM Review Barrington Billings – 15.2.17

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

 

 

 

  1. I.2. Sub Project 2. DLO Productivity report (Green Belt) – Summary May 2018

Based on BB’s DLO VFM (Direct Labour Organisation) – Value for money report Feb 2017.  

Whilst BB had looked at vfm in considerable detail an issue clearly linked to customer service was on the DLO’s productivity.  If the DLO collectively , or the individual operatives , could increase productivity it should represent, not only a financial saving to the HA,   but also give an opportunity to improve the responsiveness and quality of the work. Clear to the Project Team this would be a major potential factor in improving the Customer satisfaction rate with repairs and maintenance, the aim of the major project.

Background. Very apparent that the DLO is a real asset to the HA. To begin with it can save 20% on VAT as an in house contractor as well as being seen as a way to represent the organisation out in the communities. It has an ambassadorial role, with the vans bearing the company logo showing presence in neighbourhoods and being part of the community.  The staff are popular with residents and do a really good job in a difficult area in providing a very transactional service in a difficult Social Housing market.  A lot of local knowledge and experience built up over many years with some effective working practice that would bear scrutiny in a more detailed review. One factor to consider is that the DLOs ability to make their own appointments and really organise their own work without having to come into a Depot and sign in and out shows trust and maturity in providing a complicated service over a large geographical area.

However, it is hard to see how the DLO is managed in an effective way with a view to increased productivity.   As above the four operatives make their own appointments and arrangements and go off to do a day’s work. There is no Depot or store so they call in at suppliers and replace parts as necessary, a real Lean opportunity if organised properly.

The where abouts of the workers is a real issue. It’s not an issue of trust or the quite common van trackers but of real productivity. It became apparent that is each of the four operatives completed one extra job per day, then productivity could rise by 20%, see example table below.

Back ground. DLO – Direct Labour Organisation, so directly employed to carry out repairs and maintenance. Multi trade and skilled. However, a Fixed cost to the HA. Keeping a flow in their work, avoiding downtime and prioritising journey times is crucial in effective operations here.

Four operative, 4 vans, equipment such a drills and tools.  VAT saving of 20% compared to commercial Contractors. Seen as representative of the Housing Association out in the community. Tis works and they are popular with customers but struggle on peer median score.  Also seen to have real potential as the HA’s  ambassadors in the field, see discussion of isolation in committees at Operations Committee on 2 May 2018.

Methodology

Adopt a DMAIC (T) approach. Agreed – 6 September 2017 for BB to look at productivity.  To report back to MH as Black Belt and then onto the Project Board as part of Gate Reviews.

Define.

  • To look to increase the DLO’s productivity
  • To then set targets, manage performance and make savings for the organisation.

Discussion.  First point was that there was very little information on DLO performance. No measuring, no targets, no tacking.  The operative made their own appointments and there was no track on their whereabouts during the day. An attempt had been made to get the DLO operative on the main Project team to produce a Spaghetti diagram on a day in the life to look for Lean savings on journey times. However, this had not provided possible and this operative stopped attending the main Project Meetings.  The value of real time information on operative was clearly understood by the Project Sponsor. Diverting an operative to an emergency or linking up jobs in the same location needed to be optimised. Productivity should increase by a reasonable amount to be agreed once the nature of the work is fully understood. This should not be a top down instruction but by involving the very experienced team in their own management.

Further background from Operations Committee reports.

Future Improvement: The DLO team needs to continue to keep a firm control on this particular KPI as it directly affects levels of customer satisfaction, one of the key performance measures.

Whilst the DLO team has performed better than the approved external contractors in areas like completing jobs on time, the  result of 83% for the DLO still falls short of the peer median score of 99% therefore some work needs to be done to identify the reasons for this.

In terms of cost effectiveness the DLO team is at worse performing on par with the approved external contractors and at best outperforming them by a margin of 13% when factors like VAT and trend analysis uplift are factored in.  (VAT is 20%).

Price for an individual DLO repair is £78.19

Gate Review. Define signed off on 11 October 2017. Look to increase the number of each operative by one job a day.

Measure

Simple monitoring of activity over a 3 week period. Took a while to get this to operate and in the end  was done during 26.2.to 2.3.18. As luck would have it this included the weeks of the big freeze and whilst this slightly skewed some results it raised issues about the customer’s very real tolerance in times of difficulty. However, a real value demand opportunity to ring customers waiting for an appointment on a day when the service has completely closed down and explain the situation, usually to a positive response. However, real logistical and emergency planning issues, like remote access to that days appointment for CSC staff who may also not be able to get to the Office.

Data taken from daily records.

Week 1 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Operative  1          
Operative 2          
Operative 3          
Operative 4          
           
Total          

(Then repeated for Weeks 2 & 3.)

B’s  original vfm report also identified the individual price of a DLO repair is £78.19.

After a few false starts 3 weeks’ worth of data was received. Need to make allowances for annual leave, sickness and disaster days, see Friday 2 March 2018, below.

Figure 13- Real time job sheet.

 

 

 

Analyse.

Distribution of jobs over the period 26.2.to 2.3.18.

  6

 

0

6

 

6

3

 

6

14

 

42

14

 

56

11

 

55

6

 

36

Total

60 , entries

= 201

                 
14       * *      
13       * *      
12       * *      
11       * * *    
10       * * *    
9       * * *    
8       * * *    
7       * * *    
6 * *   * * * *  
5 * *   * * * *  
4 * *   * * * *  
3 * * * * * * *  
2 * * * * * * *  
1 * * * * * * *  
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6  

DLO Jobs per day over 3 weeks, 201 over 60 = mean of 3.5 jobs a day.

Analyse from BB vfm Report . From the data analysis done we have concluded that:

 

Whilst the DLO team has performed better than the approved external contractors in areas like completing jobs on time, the  result of 83% for the DLO still falls short of the peer median score of 99% therefore some work needs to be done to identify the reasons for this.

 

In terms of cost effectiveness the DLO team is at worse performing on par with the approved external contractors and at best outperforming them by a margin of 13% when factors like VAT and trend analysis uplift are factored in.

 

Within the DLO team itself, all operatives were performing within the range of 80% to 86% for completing jobs on time. This would suggest that there is a procedural, processing or organisational issue affecting the performance of the whole team and needs investigating.

 

There is a need for a better  and more accurate way of estimating the DLO cost per job if this is data that the team wishes to record and use for measuring the performance of the DLO.

Improve

Productivity

Table A. Notional productivity for one week

  Day 1 2 3 4 5 Total
Operative              
A   5 5 5 5 5 25
B   5 5 5 5 5 25
C   5 5 5 5 5 25
D   5 5 5 5 5 25
Total   20 20 20 20 20 100

 

Table B. Productivity by increasing by one job per day for operatives.

  Day 1 2 3 4 5 Total
Operative              
A   6 6 6 6 6 30
B   6 6 6 6 6 30
C   6 6 6 6 6 30
D   6 6 6 6 6 30
Total   24 24 24 24 24 120

+ 20% more productive.

Target an increase of one job, per operative, per day. So 6 jobs x 4 operative = 24 jobs per day, x 5 days is 120 jobs an increase of 20%.

B’s  DLO report Appendix 1.

Gives a price for each DLO job @ £78.19.

Therefore 20 more jobs is worth £1,563.80 a week and X 52 weeks is :-

£81,317.60 increase in productivity.

Not a criticism of present working arrangements but if you can facilitate DLO to increase productivity then potential saving is there.

Clear that this leads to another project on Management of the DLO. See Transfer.  Need to understand the nature of the jobs. What is a big, medium and small job? Could small jobs be saved up and done in one place over a longer period. Real risk of alienating the DLO who will feel snooped on and not trusted. Consideration for giving incentives for operative in that if they complete 5 jobs then depending on service what is happening on the day, genuinely allow they to knock off early. Not time served but jobs completed, tot eh satisfaction of the customer!

See House of Quality report and major issues with Diagnostics, scheduling and integration of systems.  Operatives need to be going out knowing what the job is waiting for them, and how long it is targeted to take. Links to improved Asset information. No effective asset register. Each time the operative goes out needs to identify if the piece of equipment is what the records said was there. Update the type of boiler, type of windows, locks, radiators, wash hand basin, etc. The operative then needs to be able to simply update an Asset register to say it was not Type A, but a type B as necessary.

 DLO Value for money Report. Recommendation for Improvement, already agreed.

In terms of the observation made from work shadowing individual DLO operatives and undertaking post inspection audits, we have concluded that there is a need for:

More clearly defined written procedures for the repairs process on how the DLO and Customer Services team handle and communicate information from the moment jobs are booked by a resident to the point they are signed off as being completed.

Better use of technology to allow seamless and faster communication of information within the teams and across departments to speed up response times and minimise error and duplication

More emphasis on training for the DLO team in terms of code of conduct on site, better use of PPE,  general approach to personal health and safety, compliance awareness inc. CSCS training

Better house-keeping practices from the DLO team when using company vehicles and the workshop/store

Better technical awareness training for the Customer Services team so that reported repairs can be more accurately diagnosed at the point of reporting ensuring the DLO team is better prepared when they go to a job thus reducing the need for multiple visits to the same job.

A more robust means of ordering and getting material supplies including review how van stock is managed to reduce unnecessary traveling back and forth from jobs to get correct material. On average each operative is losing a minimum of an hour a day due to issues around getting the right information about a job and getting the material to site in an efficient manner. This equates to 2.5 days per week being lost as a minimum or 125 days per year equivalent to £13.5k per year cost in lost productivity time.

A review of how material and equipment is stored and what to do about the use and future of the workshop/ store facility.

Overall it can be concluded that the DLO team is offering better value for money than the external contractors but there are a number of areas where the team could work more efficiently and effectively to reduce cost including better procurement of materials and a more effective process for communicating and implementing works orders.

Finally a more critical mass would need to be built up with a bigger team to allow for better economies of scale which would have the effect of bringing marginal cost down. The current sector trend to set up in-house DLO’s is driven by the need to bring cost down and improve the level of customer satisfaction. There are a number of different models for achieving this other than the DLO v external contractor approach. This includes Joint venture companies, partnering with other registered providers or external contractors.

The HA will need to decide strategically which direction it wishes to go in and that will inevitably determine what approach to asset management will provide the best solution for the HA.

Improve (continued)

Extract from BB vfm Report ;

 

In terms of the observation made from work shadowing individual DLO operatives and undertaking post inspection audits, we have concluded that there is a need for: More clearly defined written procedures for the repairs process on how the DLO and Customer Services team handle and communicate information from the moment jobs are booked by a resident to the point they are signed off as being completed. Better use of technology to allow seamless and faster communication of information within the teams and across departments to speed up response times and minimise error and duplication. More emphasis on training for the DLO team in terms of code of conduct on site, better use of PPE,  general approach to personal health and safety, compliance awareness inc. CSCS training.

Better house-keeping practices from the DLO team when using company vehicles and the workshop/store.

Etc. See full report for all recommendations

 

Control

Data on jobs completed by all operative on each day.

 

  Jobs Mean UCL LCL
1 18 13.4 24.78 2.02
2 15 13.4 24.78 2.02
3 14 13.4 24.78 2.02
4 8 13.4 24.78 2.02
5 6 13.4 24.78 2.02
6 7 13.4 24.78 2.02
7 11 13.4 24.78 2.02
8 17 13.4 24.78 2.02
9 16 13.4 24.78 2.02
10 15 13.4 24.78 2.02
11 18 13.4 24.78 2.02
12 15 13.4 24.78 2.02
13 13 13.4 24.78 2.02
14 14 13.4 24.78 2.02
15 14 13.4 24.78 2.02

UCL – Upper Control limit, LCL – Lower control limit.

 

See also full calculations on 60 jobs in full Sub Project report. 

Data for all 60 individual jobs completed by all operative overt the period. See chart below.

Essentially, Six Sigma and Lean systems have the same goal. Lean practitioners believe that waste comes from unnecessary steps in the production process that do not add value to the finished product, while Six Sigma proponents assert that waste results from variation within the process. Control on both charts with the range of all plots is within 6 sigma tolerance between UCL and LCL. However, the real control is to do with the issues here are much more about chronic waste and missed opportunities through poor management and not following best practice. The morale of the CSC staff in particular, who appear to make do and mend, gives considerable cause for concern.  (See As Is and To Be processes.)

 

 

 

 

RISKS.

3 of the main risks identified where in this area see below. Action underway with DLO Management . Review actions on other 2 ASAP.

1.     Get professional help to link up Diagnostics, scheduling and systems CEO/ BB ASAP          
2.     DLO Management – Make clear reporting function and produce weekly figures on productivity BB Started          
3.     Clarify data and test it, with one place to report BB ASAP          

 

Transfer.  Finding transferred to the main Project. See Final report .  Recommended that work is done with the DLO to involve them much more in the planning not of their individual work, but of the overall work of the Section. Inevitable that the DLO operative may feel criticised in this report but that is the not the intention. Need to understand the work and their working environment.

Additional Recommendation s; Black Belt (MH)

There is no Manager of the DLO as such, and clearly there is a considerable expense involved in have a Supervisor who is not an operative. Clear the team would be helped by involving them in their own Management with a target to increase productivity themselves. Recommend over a period of time to make them aware of areas like; Kaizen events, 5 S, Visual management sessions, Total productive maintenance (TPM), SRM- Supplier Relationship Management well as Poke Yoke. Happy to explain more.

Change Management review

The Operations Committee on 2 May 2018 created a sense of urgency as it recognised that the lack of Management of the DLO is not sustainable. BB is now properly in post and has started to gather the data required. Certainly the building of a coalition and a strategic vision for improvement, as real productivity gains available. Enlist support and enable change by removing the barriers but deeply set in the culture and has to show leadership and sensitivity. Some short terms wins around improved opportunities, in management for the team and bonus if more jobs completed in a week. Sustaining change would be dependent on the good will of the staff or effective incentives. Really needs benchmarking with similar DLOs and to learn Best practice from these to really institute change. Over to BB.

 

Section 7. Overall Improve, Control and Transfer

Movement & Provocation. To get the Team thinking away from the traditional pattern that had been set, decided to suggest they were not really needed and there were better solutions.

  • Set up an Arm’s length company
  • Outsource
  • Close you down.
  • Not an RSL’s business

We had used an Affinity diagram and Interrelationship diagram in define and again in Improve. Challenge Session to ask, so What? When? Why? How? & Make the case for.  Others could do what you do; Cheaper, Faster, simpler, easier?  Why not; close it all down as it is too risky? Or outsource, or partner. Why not set up an Arm’s length Commercial Company?  Futures invest a certain amount into it and expect a return on investment. Commercial venture and if it fails you all lose your jobs. Session went from Maybe/what if to the illogical/impossible.

  1. the group were quite resistant to this approach and sceptical so it had limited success. Alright with the provocation about other ways to run the business but dubious about; random noun, stepping stone approach and for e.g. square wheel, which was discuses at the end of the session.

However, combined with previous detailed work did get them going and provoked useful discussions and Learning opportunities. .

Mainly considered improving the DLO where management, culture and control are major issues but further consideration needed on Contractors performance and VFM.  Real issues round defining a job, how long a job takes complexities in some jobs. Lots of discussion about; slots and aiding communication. Reported that the DLO feels under pressure. A better understanding of the operatives’ issues and a way for them to influence responses to these is needed. Discussion of appointing DLO Manager and the cost and benefits of this, not least the wages for the post.  Clear that better Data and metrics needed to run and control the whole process not to try to measure something vague after the fact.  Van tracking and using Skyguard, sole worker tech.

Control.  Perhaps the hardest thing to achieve. Always slip back into the bad old habits) Clear ideas on DLO and management, and then linked into the Contractors. Set and monitor Control charts. Statistical control by analysing the data on completions and customer satisfaction and producing Control charts.

 

Section 8 Conclusion

  1. i House of Quality. Matching the Customers’ requirements (CR) to the (OR) Operations requirements. Shows that at over 21% of the weighted result is 5. Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems. Over 57% of the weighting is in this area plus; 2.Book appointments at once with clear time slots & 3.Know where operatives are at all times.
  2. ii Benchmarking.

Based on Project Teams knowledge of the Industry and particular B’s expert involvement with  Manningham HA and Project Teams and MH’s knowledge of local providers – NCH/Futures ranking it was concluded that Tuntum had some work to do in these areas. Recommended that the HA concentrates on improving its benchmarking in line with continuous improvement the pursuit of perfection.

  1. iii Summary of; What the business is and where it’s at, from a range of exercises with the Project Team.

 

Affinity Diagram

  • Asset Information
  • Stock
  • Process
  • On site
  • Systems
  • Customer satisfaction

Risks

  • Resistance to change
  • Not being resourced properly
  • Staff uncooperative with change
  • Failure to manage the DLO

 

Root causes

  • Diagnostics/scheduling/reporting èappointment made and kept. (KPI for this?)
  • Quality of work and materials
  • Friendly customer service, all buying in the vision and Values.

 

 

 

Scout

  • Negative North – Organisational culture is resistant to change. Need communication buy in all the way to the top of the organisation. Equipment not fit for purpose. Keep buying the wrong things like new phones.
  • Sunny South . Good customer service, compliments on this. Professional and friendly service. DLO is an asset. Mainly a good relationship with tenants.
  • Exciting East – Improve process. Have efficient repairs service. Buy the right equipment. Get better communications with Contractors.
  • What next west. Manage Contractor/DLO demand more. Create as Asset register and update all the time. New system for diagnosis and scheduling.

 

House of Quality

  • Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems.
  • Over 57% of the weighting is in this area plus;
  • Book appointments at once with clear time slots &
  • Know where operatives are at all times.

 

 

 

Discussion from section above.

The Affinity exercise showed clear chunks of this part of the business as; Asset Information, the Stock,                 Process, on site, Systems and Customer satisfaction. Lots of interlinking and nothing apparently missing from the way these operated.

Very similar issues came out of the top risks ; Resistance to change, Staff uncooperative with change, failure to manage the DLO and not that there weren’t resources but they were not the right ones necessarily.

Root causes and House of Quality were in alignment with; RCs – Diagnostics/scheduling/reporting /appointment made and kept. Top HoQ were; Diagnostics, scheduling, and integration of systems. The; Book appointments at once with clear time slots, reflected in the Value Stream mapping. Third area of knowing where operatives are at all times.

Other Root causes were concerns about the Quality of work and materials, but a more positive one on Friendly customer service, but need to be all buying into the Vision and Values.

On Scout; negative ones saw the Organisational culture as resistant to change. The real need for “communication buy in all the way to the top of the organisation”. Equipment not fit for purpose again with the comment that organisation keeps buying the wrong things like new phones.

Sunny view of Good customer service, compliments on this. Professional and friendly service. DLO is an asset. Mainly a good relationship with tenants.

Real exciting at looking to improve process and have a really efficient repairs service.  Want to buy the right equipment and get better communications with Contractors.

Enthusiasm for “What next”.  To really manage Contractors and the DLO and demand more.  Really want to create an Asset register and update all the time. Looking forward to a new system for diagnosis and scheduling.

  1. iv. As well as this Projects research there is guidance from previous reports

Initiate engagement – Customer Service Consultation – Housing  Association  – November 2017 – Review of the function and direction of Customer Services, suggested be retitled Customer Support (to emphasise that in future we intend to support callers in resolving their query/ problem rather than ‘doing it for them’. Key findings: need to be better at communicating the progress of a repair to the tenant.

Scrutiny Panel – Review of low return of customer satisfaction forms. November 2015. Key recommendation; “not satisfied box” to be followed up with phone contact to explore issues and learn. . Also include “You said, we did” in newsletters.

DLO VFM Review – BB – February 2017. Key findings. Generally good quality of work. Need to flag call-backs to customers on the system. Also improve communications with tenants, and key at 6.3.1 more clearly defined process on how DLO and CSC book jobs and sign off.

 

 

 

 

8 v.  Themes.

Key finding from the Initiate Report of November 2017; “we need to be better at communicating the progress of a repair to the tenant”.

Note from Operation Committee minutes on 2 May 2018 that tenant scrutiny panel is to look at the tenant satisfaction dashboard as their next project.

The DLO

Clearly an asset and the quality of their multi trade work, given diminishing resources, is not the issue. Their productivity may be exactly in line with any reasonable benchmark, however there was no real monitoring of this. By establishing what are big or small jobs and estimating time slots for each as well as mapping their daily journeys, an increase in productivity is a realistic aim. Targets to drive performance  are a key recommendation. As an example the project has shown that only a slight increase has the potential to be worth £81,317.60 a year.

Their productivity would also improve if they had the right communication tools and also recommended that all trade staff should have a modern PDA’s to log onto jobs and sign off completions electronically.

This would also help provides the customer with an estimated arrival time by text message, and the name of the person coming to carry out their repair. Knowing the operative whereabouts is a key to planning journeys and making contact to deal with emergencies or access opportunities.

Key opportunity to join up the working and training with, particularly, the CSC and avoid any views of “us “and “them”. By recognising the paramount value to the customer and individual and team motivations there is a real opportunity to deal with some of the values and culture issues that came up particularly in HoQ.  The dynamics of these teams (all male DLO, all female CSC) and encouraging cross overs would eventually be beneficial.

Assets

Initially when the Project was looking too widely the need to analyse the cost of repairs per unit became clear. Some units consume much more resources than others and an explanation of this is needed. This could inform management action, or a change in strategy, as necessary.

The need to establish, and constantly update, an Asset Register on contents of each property would benefit the organisation a great deal. Details on the system of what type of boiler, windows, adaptations would ensure that’s operatives turned up with the right parts and aid 2right first time” and customer satisfaction. It would also help this to help interrogate the initial reporting of repair issues and guide planned maintenance.

Customer Service Centre

Improving Scheduling, Diagnostics and integration of systems was the top weighted score from the HoQ. . The front end way Customer Service Staff deal with initial customer contact clearly needs to be improved.  It is slow and manual and the communication with DLO and contactors is out-dated.  There is diagnostic software in the Office but long ago abandoned as it does not actually aid the CSC operatives in doing their job.  Ideas like sending a picture of the repair should be investigated further. The staff in the CSC, as well as the DLO, work hard and are committed. The main issue to improve the customer experience must be to improve the flow of; initial contact, diagnosis, scheduling, appointments made and kept, completion, and customer satisfaction data.  (See To be process.)

Real need identified to Improve the  IT for Scheduling and  Diagnostics The organisation needs to  investigate ;  Front Desk Query, Tasking,    CRM,  Workflow  , self-service portals,  placing orders etc. This means recording all interactions and analysing real data about outcomes. Valiant efforts have been made to knit together existing systems but it is clear that some professional help is needed and recommended that the HA consult an IT Workflow expert to achieve success in linking process, people and technology here.

Suggest the organisation follows Tony Smith for blogs and free consultancy from @HousingITguy https://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmithathousingitguy

Data & benchmarking

Use the available Data to manage the business more and investigate areas where new data could help business decisions and the control of process more.

Directly compare DLO performance with Contractors to drive the improvement of process, and set up more meaningful benchmarking to drive performance and continuous improvement.

Customers

Last but certainly not least continue to build relationships with customers, who have shown themselves to be very knowledgeable throughout the project.

Take direct steps towards more self-service portal working for a range of services. Initially the very transactional repairs process lends itself to this approach.  This HA’s customers are younger and perhaps more IT aware than many other Registered Providers and this could be a great advantage.  Also look at live chat to support this and really could improve customer satisfaction with repairs. Lots of opportunities in customer insight for a smaller Housing Association to consider different types of customer, splitting into strata. More House of Quality work could address this.

The way to continuously improve customer satisfaction must be to recognise what does the customer really want and map this to operations, and then to control and not lose the gain.  Really would recommend that the HA looks at QFD (Quality Function Deployment) and identify where the organisation really is in relation to customer focus and knowing the customers.

 

  • Longer terms recommendations to be considered. (See Appendix for detail.)

Transfer knowledge to further projects.

  • Look at Kaizen, 5 S and Visual Management to really “Lean” the business and improve ways of working in individual teams and business wide.
  • Consider Real Time Customer Feedback (RTCF) analytics
  • QFD (Quality Function Deployment) Identify where the organisation is in relation to customer focus and really knowing the customers.
  • Establish touchpoint triggers
  • Follow up with KANO modelling to find “delighters” to raise customer satisfaction, link to customer rewards scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Recommendations
  2. Manage the DLO, and improve appointment scheduling.
  3. Improve mobile working issue by supplying all trade staff with modern PDA’s to log onto jobs.
  4. Provides the customer with an estimated arrival time by text message, and the name of the person coming to carry out their repair.
  5. Enable the operative to sign off completions electronically
  6. Understand DLO productivity issues and set targets for performance. (Only a slight increase has the potential to be worth £81,317.60)
  7. Analyse cost of repairs per unit, and take management action as necessary.
  8. Establish and constantly update an Asset Register on contents of each property and use this to help interrogate reported repair issues and guide supplies.
  9. Directly compare DLO performance with Contractors to drive the improvement of process,
  10. Improve IT for Scheduling, Diagnostics and integration of systems.
  11. Consult an IT Workflow expert to achieve success in linking process, people and technology here.
  12. Move towards a self-service portal for a range of services initially repairs.
  13. Use the available Data to manage the business more and investigate areas where data could help business decisions and the control of process more.
  14. Continue to build relationships with customers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.Appendix to Six Sigma Final Report – June 2018 – Good practice and references.

The Project Team considered the;

CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing’s) Repairs Charter

The CIH repairs charter is “a flexible framework that helps you identify what outcomes a good quality repairs service can deliver. It is not intended to be a regulatory tool but can be used as a basis for internal challenge – through tenant scrutiny, peer or independent review” (Repairs: CIH charter for housing, Chartered Institute of Housing).

Organisations sign up to the charter to demonstrate their commitment to providing to providing excellent services to tenants, to assess their own performance and learn from other organisations. (How to… improve your services with CIH charters, Chartered Institute of Housing, May 2014)

In a recent study by the CIH, they discovered that 90% of the charter members said that the charter had helped them to improve their services. (How to… improve your services with CIH charters, Chartered Institute of Housing, May 2014)

The charted institute of housing highlighted in its how to guide that Your Housing Group, has moved away from prioritising repair times which tend to be target driven rather than customer driven. The  housing group now have two key priority’s regarding repairs, which are that the repair is carried out at a time that is convenient for the customer, and secondly that the repair is completed on the first visit where possible.

http://www.cih.org/repairscharter

Review Job Scheduling &Materials Used

Example of good practice;

Cornerstone Housing had one of the highest figures in regards to the average cost of per repair. This has been attributed to the manner in which repairs are scheduled and the materials used. Clearly there is room for improvement here as the average amongst peers is £151.57.A review of the systems used to plan and schedule works should be undertaken. There is also an opportunity for improved procurement, with regards to materials suppliers. As Responsive Repairs is generally the largest area of spend for social landlords, attaining VFM is key.  There are several drivers for better VFM in a repairs service, as per the Value for money in responsive and voids repairs, HouseMark’s repairs value for money toolkit, April 2012, John Wickenden –

  • Call handling – Well-handled calls allow for the right operative to attend, at the right time, completing the repair on the first visit which will satisfy the tenant achieving VFM.
  • Appointments – Offering an appointment system allows repairs to be completed at a convenient time for tenants. In terms of VFM this ensures that an operative is in the right place at the right time, limiting wasted visits.
  • Quantity & Costs of Repair Jobs – This is a standard practice, which provides visibility of the Direct Labour Force (DLF) capacity and metrics to quickly asses the quality of work.
  • DLO performance – Monitoring the performance of the DLO will show any underperformance of individuals, such as not meeting deadlines and excessive sickness.

Discussion from Cornerstone HA’s  VFM Approach.   https://www.cornerstonehousing.net/

Self-help guides

Also interesting Cornerstone’s guide to ‘DIY’ repairs

Our quick video guides show you how to deal with common household problems yourself, such as:

  • How to unblock your sink
  • How to bleed a radiator
  • How to top-up your boiler
  • How to reset the trip switch on your fuse box
  • How to locate your water stop-tap
  1. Understand our costs and performance
  2. A strategic value for money framework and culture is embedded throughout the organisation
  3. We minimise our costs and maximise performance through service and value for money reviews, procurement and IT practices

(Value For Money Self-Assessment, Cornerstone Housing Limited, 28/03/2018)

It is also important that tenants are included in the development of performance measures for the repairs service. Under the Regulatory Framework for Social Housing in England from April 2012, landlords are required to include their tenants in decisions regarding the management of their homes.

(http://www.chg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/HCA-Regulatory-requirements-for-resident-involvement.pdf, accessed 24/02/2018)

Apart from the regulatory requirements, the information gained from tenants can be vital in providing an improved repairs service. This benefits the Association in regards to efficiency and cost savings, but also the tenants themselves. With tenants consulted on the repairs service, this allows them to have “their say”, which will aid to a more tailored service being provided, which in turn should improve satisfaction levels.

(Tenant Insight, A toolkit for landlords, Tenant Services Authority, September 2010)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy

How can IT and software applications tackle front end management of repairs? Well, most integrated Housing Management Systems incorporate CRM, Front Desk Query, Tasking, Workflow Trays etc., so we have the means of recording all these interactions. So we have the means. If you don’t have the means, find out what you could introduce to supply this element. The next step is to have everyone buy in to use it. Now that should not be tricky, but you would be surprised how often people connive to resist introduction of CRM & tasking.  I like the idea of a task tray. All the things I need to do, and when they are due. To meet the communication needs of residents, CRM needs to be used in both directions. That is where many organisations go wrong. Log interactions from your customer services centre and also when your staff interact, out of the office. In fact ALL interactions need to be logged (or accessible) within CRM. Tasking should support escalation, referral and effectively provide a ‘snail-trail’ of how that piece of communication was dealt with, at each step of the way. All staff need to be engaged, any gaps will create vulnerabilities and inevitably complaints. Those complaints cost money. Twitter @HousingITguy

What are customer touchpoints?

https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/identify-customer-touchpoints/

Customer touchpoints are your brand’s points of customer contact, from start to finish. For example, customers may find your business online or in an ad, see ratings and reviews, visit your website, shop at your retail store, or contact your customer service. Seems like a long list, but these are just a few of your touchpoints! So what are touchpoints and how can they help you make better business decisions?

Touchpoint definition: A touchpoint is any time a potential customer or customer comes in contact with your brand–before, during, or after they purchase something from you.

Identifying your touchpoints is the first step toward creating a customer journey map, and making sure your customers are satisfied every step of the way. Here’s how to take all of your touchpoints into account so you don’t miss an opportunity to listen to your customers and make improvements that will keep them happy.

Finding your customer touchpoints

Identify your customer touchpoints by making a list of all the places and times your customers might come into contact with your brand. Here is a list of touchpoints , but it can vary a lot depending on your business.

General additional Recommendations

 

Staff should implement a set procedure to monitor repairs progress once it is    allocated, including more communication with tenants to inform them of the progress      of their repair. Weekly exception reports should be produced to identify any patterns emerging regarding contractor / DLO performance, time taken before work started, job completion dates, parts required and were repairs right first time? Any inconsistencies can be addressed before they become a complaint.

 

The Association should consider using an external company,       to carry out weekly telephone surveys to obtain feedback on the service delivery.                 Inconsistencies could be reported to staff weekly, so that the appropriate action can     be taken to rectify before complaints are made.  Attention can be paid to identify if              tenants were contacted to make an appointment and at convenient times.  Were the tenants told when workers would call and feedback on overall quality of work.

 

Improvements should be made to digitalise its services through the website.     Although a range of useful organisational information is available, reporting repairs is not made easy for tenants and does not provide information to help tenants to                 easily diagnose/describe their repair.  An interactive guide to assist tenants to diagnose or effectively describe their repairs should be implemented.  This will             save delays, as further information may not be required.  Having an interactive website,        including a tenant portal, enables tenants to follow their repairs progress. The portal should include a copy of tenant satisfaction questionnaire.

 

An automated email receipt acknowledging requests/queries via the website, should    be introduced to provide tenants confirmation their request is being dealt with.

 

Housing Managers should encourage tenants to report their own repairs, to avoid misinterpretation or confusion.  Housing Managers often debate the requirements on behalf of the tenant, leading to unnecessary delays, and information required for       effective reporting may not be obtained. Use of electronically sent pictures and even live video in the case of emergencies could be explored more.

 

Copies of the work order should not be sent the same day the repair is reported but instead on completion of the repair. This will prevent any confusion and         dissatisfaction by tenants who have received the survey before they have been                 contacted by the contractor.  Surveys may not be lost.

 

A simplified text message or email could be sent asking ask whether tenants are              satisfied with the service delivery. The text facility could also send a bespoke satisfaction questionnaire to tenants or ask whether they would prefer staff to call them to discuss?  Most tenants have email facility and mobile phones with them always, and this could encourage more tenants to respond.

 

With the above recommendations, the satisfaction rates will increase and will be in line with SWBG average satisfaction percentages.

Provide Live chat on line  – See Newlon Hosing Association Take part in online live chat. Just click the “chat with us” button at the bottom of this screen and type your first name to connect immediately to one of our Service Centre Advisors. If there are no Advisors available you can leave a message there and we will get back to you.

https://www.newlon.org.uk/residents/do-it-online/

Self-service portal  – Customers can take total control of their tenancies – anytime, anywhere – by signing up to our new look My Account service. The new self-service area means customers can book a repair, make payments, check their balance and update their details at the touch of a button on any device at any time of day.

https://futureshg.co.uk/futures-housing-group-news/new-self-service-portal-launched-futures-customers/

  • Transfer knowledge to further projects. Look at Kaizen, 5 S and visual management to really “Lean” the business and improve ways of working in individual teams but also business wide.
  • Consider Real Time Customer Feedback (RTCF) analytics
  • Establish touchpoint triggers
  • Follow up with KANO modelling to find “delighters” to raise customer satisfaction, link to customer rewards scheme

Tuntum results, comments and suggestions to improve.

  • Repairs Satisfaction – year to date (YTD) we did not hit our target, but you can see we were moving upwards towards it.
  • Emergency % completed on time – YTD we were just under target and throughout the year we were pretty close to it.
  • Appointments kept % – YTD we were above target.ü
  • % of repairs completed right 1st time – We were just under target on this one. This is an important PI, because it will also impact on customer satisfaction and value for money. Repeat visits inconvenience the customer and cost the organisation money.
  • Non-emergency repairs % completed on time – We were just under target for this one. This is a routine repair allowing us a target of 21 days to complete the repair.

 

Suggested ways to improve Local indicators to set to measure performance against as an organisation are;

The average spend per property – This will help us to achieve value for money. We need to analyse if we’re spending too much or too little and look at the reasons why this might be.

Number of repairs on average per property – We should be aiming for a targeted amount e.g. Average 3 per property. This is so our properties don’t fall into disrepair, we’re managing customers who aren’t maintaining their homes as part of their tenancy and we’re not spending where we shouldn’t need to. This will help to identify areas where properties may need to go on a programme to get best practice and do this work in a more efficient and cost saving way.

Number of repairs completed. By knowing how many repairs we’ve completed, we can analyse average number per property, areas there in, so is there a need to manage a programme ensuring we are following best practice and getting value for money. We can also use this information to look at the efficiencies of the operatives; are they getting enough work each day or too much? If not is it because of the way their workload is scheduled? Does their work have the best journey planned out? This will also help achieve value for money.

Number of appointments made and kept. If we are missing appointments, we need to look at the reasons why. This will impact customer satisfaction if we are constantly failing to turn up. Is the customer missing appointments; again we need to look at why. Is it because they have forgotten we are coming. Could a phone call to the customer before setting off ensure there home and we don’t waste money attending an appointment that there not home for.

Should aim to have 5 to 8 performance indicators. Covering satisfaction, appointments kept and something to do with the time taken to complete a repair. This will link into customer satisfaction and help us to review value for money on a repair. It will help us to analysis how well we are doing and if there are any trends in performance.

The Association needs to consider what a good repairs service looks like. Therefore, the rationale for improving the repairs service can be broken down into the following;

  • Information and communication – clear priority structure, expectations/responsibilities, knowledge and notification of any problems
  • Customer care – choice of appointment, quality of contact at all stages, good out of hours service, follow up satisfaction surveys and inspections to check quality
  • Value for money – “intelligent approach” to maintaining stock, 1st time fix and ability to amend works on site if appropriate.
  • Consultation and involvement – in setting standards and choosing contractors
  • Meeting specific needs – tenant insight

(Thomas, 2008, p. 30)

Since 2013 new regulations require Social Landlords to publish in their annual statement where they have achieved value for money (Robertson, 2014) and House Mark research shows that value for money in responsive repairs can be found in the following areas;

Call handling, Appointments, Repair jobs, Contractor performance, Client efficiency, Procurement ‘Invoices, Voids (Wickenden, 2012)

In 2016 the Vividhomes published its Value for Money statement which included benchmarking against 5 other local associations. 99% repairs appointments were kept, with 94.4% repairs being completed 1st time (Sentinel HA, 2016, p. 6).  https://www.vividhomes.co.uk/

Customers would have seen value for money reflected in the following areas of their repair experience;

Call handling and logging a repair. Call handlers were given training to deal with enquires at the first point of contact and offering customers an appointment to best suit them. In doing so the Association has been mindful of its targets and explained to customers where appointment cannot be booked out of target. Customers have been advised to log repairs online or call back when they are available for the repair to be carried out. This has reduced the number of missed appointments which customers have forgotten about because they were more than 10 days away. Customers can now call and expect to be booked in within 10 days. The customer satisfaction index increased by 2.3% to 80.8% in 2016. (Sentinel HA, 2016, p. 5).

Asset management strategy. The Association analysed high level repairs in specific areas and identified those which required a different approach. This involved selling off a number of properties and reducing overall costs in maintenance going forward by £0.5million (Sentinel HA, 2016, p. 11).

Environmental impact. The Association introduced patches for all trades. This led to a reduction in mileage and Co2 emissions therefore increasing productivity, the amount of time spent on customer repairs and also reduced the Associations carbon footprint by 4% (Sentinel HA, 2016, p. 17). A WEEE skip was also installed so electrical waste could be appropriately recycled.

The Association has also spent a significant amount of time looking at the individual needs of the customer in order to provide a more customer focused and locally accountable customer service by carrying out a Census in 2016. This ensured that up to date information was held about its residents. Information which could impact a customer during an appointment is held on their account.

Operatives  have access to tenant information when they carry out a repair. This means that if a customer has any personal requirements then they can be taken into consideration. This increases the likelihood of the repair being completed 1st time and the business achieving its target (TSA, 2010, p. 6).

Direct HA reports referenced in this project.

Initiate engagement – Customer Service Consultation – Housing Association  – November 2017 – Review of the function and direction of Customer Services, suggested be retitled Customer Support (to emphasise that in future we intend to support callers in resolving their query/ problem rather than ‘doing it for them’. Key findings: need to be better at communicating the progress of a repair to the tenant.

Tenants Scrutiny Panel – Review of low return of customer satisfaction forms. November 2015. Key recommendation; not satisfied box to be followed up with phone contact to explore issues and learn. . Also include “You said, we did” in newsletters.

DLO VFM Review –  February 2017. Key findings. Generally good quality of work. Need to flag call backs on the system. Also improve communications with tenants. , and key at 6.3.1 more clearly defined process on how DLO and CSC book jobs and sign off.

PDA handheld device. Some information on types and cost.

https://www.handheldgroup.com/rugged-computer/handheld-pda/

 

 

References

House Mark. (2016). HouseMark ‘On The Ball’ Benchmarking Report 2015/16. Coventry: House Mark, p, 5.

Pawson, H., & Sosenko, F. (2010). Short and Long Term Effects of Poor Customer Service Delivery. Edinburgh: Heriot-Watt University, p, 1. p, 2.

Raza, A. (2014). Short and Long Term Effects of Poor Customer Service Delivery. [online] Available at: http://www.customerservice.ae/short-and-long-term-effects-of-poor-customer-service-delivery [Accessed 16 September 2017]

Robertson, G. (2014). Social landlords showing value for money. [online] Available at: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/social-landlords-showing-value-for-money-40920 [Accessed 16 September 2017]

Sentinel HA. (2016). Value for money statement. [online] Available at: https://www.sentinelha.org.uk/media/316/316.original.pdf [Accessed 10 September 2017]

Thomas, A. (2008). Improving repairs and maintenance services. London: CIH, p, 27. p, 30. p, 120. p, 122.

TSA. (2010). Tenant Insight: A toolkit for landlords. London: Tenant Services Authority, p, 6.

Wickenden, J. (2012). Value for money in responsive and void repairs. Coventry: House Mark.

English Rural Housing Association (27.2.18 & 6.3.18)Resident Satisfaction Survey Result https://englishrural.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Survey-report.pdf

 

Rocc (27.2.18) How repairs satisfaction leads to overall tenant satisfaction

file://erh-ln1-pfs01/redirects$/Janette/Downloads/_var_sites_w_www.rocc.com_public_html_docs_rocc-computers-white-paper-how-repairs-satisfaction-leads-to-overall-tenant-satisfaction%20(3).pdf

 

Wheatley Group (27.2.18) How Do You Know if you are Providing Value for Money

(Access 14.3.18)

http://www.cih.org/resources/PDF/Scotland%20Policy%20Pdfs/1Value%20for%20money%20%5BWEB%5D.pdf