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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

4 vital ingredients to setting up a successful internal maintenance service

10/11/2016


A successful internal repairs and maintenance service is truly cross-functional and should benefit all areas of the business. But how can we make sure we create such a service? Rob Bryan, director at Vantage Business Solutions, shares his ideas.

Image of house drawn in sand When considering options for service delivery, we believe it represents an ideal opportunity to review all elements of service delivery, and a brilliant chance to engage your tenants and to agree what the service standards should be. You can redefine how you work, benefitting from seeing what others are doing and what best practice looks like.

Take time to review how change will impact on each of these key ingredients and you can embed sustainable change and a successful internal repairs and maintenance service.

Here's what you need to think about:

People

  • How will your staff react to change? Do they have the right mind-set, skills and experience to embrace change? It’s key to involve them in the process and to equip them with the right skills.  
  • Remember that the external contract management approach is not always the best fit for managing an internal service - establish the right organisational structure and alignment with assets and support services. 
  • Engage in some high quality coaching and mentoring to support key staff and ensure your changes are sustainable.
  • Consider what TUPE - transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) regulations - requirements you will need, along with any human resources support on staff contracts, terms and conditions.

Processes/IT

  • Do you have the processes mapped out to deliver the service? If not, consider how they will have to align with existing functions such as a customer services centre.
  • Consider how your existing IT services will support your delivery model – if you need to buy new technology, define the specification and how it will work for you.  
  • Incorporate the digital offerings and align with digital strategy – how practical is it for customers to raise their repairs requirements online? What impact will digital technologies have? Think big! 'Blue sky' what you would love to achieve and how it can help you make better business decisions.  
  • Use the opportunity to show your staff how their role and remit impacts on others – join up the processes so the customer experience is seamless. 

Procurement and supply chain

  • While the skills core required for managing a direct labour organisation (DLO) – people management – will become a more significant requirement if you move from an external contractor model, there will still be a need to effectively design, procure and contract manage your supply chain.  
  • Before you commence a traditional procurement process, consider more innovative approaches to procurement. For example, do you understand the supply chain offerings in full and can you design something that works with your footprint and service requirements? 
  • Select the right procurement route for you. Many organisations tend to select one through convenience or habit rather than undertaking a procurement feasibility exercise.  
  • You will no doubt require subcontractors as part of your supply chain, so ensure that you understand what they will be needed for and when.     
  • Make sure that you consider all options for fleet, including specification of the right vehicles. Many DLOs purchase or lease the wrong type of vehicles for some trades and end up regretting their decision. Consider too the 'buy versus lease' evaluation, and undertake a robust appraisal of racking solutions.

Performance management

  • In order to measure the success of the service and make informed decisions for planning, you need to excel at gathering business intelligence. Ask yourself, are you capturing the right data to get a handle on how the service is performing?  
  • Being able to monitor practical tasks such as the volume of repairs, the cost per repair, the number of repairs per operative and the cases of no-access appointments will empower you to make changes. For example, would the introduction of IT SMS reminders help reduce no-access appointments?  Consider the impact this type of data has on improving your service. 
  • For any externally contracted services, are you still using traditional metrics to assess performance? Don’t be afraid to drill down to the detail, and once you have useful data, make sure you have the skills to interpret it effectively.
  • There must be clear accountability for the gathering and interpreting of the data, along with buy-in from the front line through to the executive team to gain confidence in the service.

Rob Bryan, director at Vantage Business Solutions
@RobBryanVantage
 

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