The North East’s largest housing association, Thirteen is transforming its facilities management (FM) services with new mobile workforce management technology supplied by Leeds-based BigChange.
The system, which incorporates CRM, job scheduling, a customer portal, vehicle tracking and a mobile app, is helping to improve services, reduce costs and boost productivity.
Thirteen’s facilities management team provides services such as grounds maintenance, estate care, caretaker and cleaning services to its 70,000 customers.
“Previously we relied on a combination of paper records and spreadsheets and with the volume of work we had it was clear we needed to replace what was a cumbersome, largely manual system,” says Michael Hall, Senior FM manager, Thirteen. “BigChange has transformed the way we work by eliminating paper and providing complete visibility of our work.”
Thirteen’s mobile teams carry out planned and reactive maintenance. Equipped with tablets running the 5 in 1 JobWatch mobile app linked to real-time vehicle tracking, the devices are used for everything from vehicle inspections, COVID-19 safety checks and electronic job sheets linked to photographs from site.
“JobWatch gives us a live 24/7 view of all our work; scheduled and reactive. It’s the data that the system collects and processes that is really useful. We have real insight into our actual costs and performance – something we simply didn’t have before. Now we can look at our performance against what are more realistic targets.
“Already we’ve been able to halve daily mileage, reducing wasted travelling time and costs and we expect we will be able to dramatically improve our productivity through better resource planning, allocation and coordination,” Hall comments.
Rolling out the new system has proved easier than expected. “We are always busy, so we expected this to be a challenge, but remarkably just one person was able to set up and manage the implementation of BigChange – it was that easy and the support was great,” Hall explains.
The other anticipated issue was in persuading colleagues about the benefits of the new system. “One factor we did not anticipate was Coronavirus. Thirteen continued to provide services to customers during the COVID-19 lockdown and that meant introducing safety procedures for our colleagues. Immediately we were able to introduce a COVID-19 safe working procedure using JobWatch – an app that everyone embraced straight away.”
For Thirteen tablets quickly became the accepted way of working, but as a cloud solution, the BigChange system itself also allowed major operational changes to be made quickly. This included working from home and negated the need for teams to come into the office at the start of the day.
“Suddenly we switched to complete mobile working and our teams simply working from home saving at lot of time and mileage. We can track departure and arrival times and without the depot visits productivity is much better and it has been a real transformation – everyone is very happy with the change”. Hall adds.
“The system now gives us vital management information. We can now measure things and for the first time we have been able to introduce an optimal delivery model. That means we can do more work in less time allowing us to improve the value of services to our customers,” says Russell Thompson, Executive Director of Assets, Thirteen.
The BigChange solution includes a booking app that Thirteen feel offers great potential. “This web portal facility is a brilliant addition to BigChange as it allows jobs to be booked through a very simple app. This means managers, caretakers and other frontline staff can request a service via the app while onsite and the job can be scheduled immediately. This eliminates delays getting paperwork signed off – we’ll be a lot quicker and more efficient as we roll out this handy tool.”
Launched in 2013 and based in Leeds, UK, BigChange provides a range of mobile workforce management technologies that are trusted by 45,000 mobile workers and back-office personnel at 1,300 organisations around the world. BigChange employs 167 people and signed over £20m worth of new contracts in 2019.
BigChange’s pioneering all-in-one mobile workforce and job management solution, JobWatch, provides organisations of any size with a paperless means of planning, managing, scheduling, and tracking their mobile workforce operations. Combining CRM, job scheduling, vehicle tracking, a mobile workforce app, and an on-demand booking app, the system can manage in-house and sub-contracted operations simultaneously.
BigChange is recognised with several industry awards. It won the Technology & Innovation prize at The Logistics Awards in 2017 and 2018, was named in the 2018 Deloitte Technology Fast 50, and featured in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in both 2018 and 2019. In 2020, BigChange won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation and its workplace was recognised by Best Companies with a two-star rating.