In April 2019, North Tyneside Council completed a 2-year project to bring their construction and responsive repairs services back in house, after previously outsourcing them to a third party. With a responsibility to deliver over £40m in activity per year across responsive repairs, property adaptations and construction across both tenanted homes and public buildings, North Tyneside Council needed to implement a fully operational system within very short timescales.
With all repairs and construction activity previously managed by a third party, North Tyneside Council was essentially starting from scratch. As part of an intensive tender process, North Tyneside went through a number of regulatory and legislative stages to select a provider who were able to meet its needs both in the short and longer terms.
In particular, North Tyneside was looking for a cloud-based system which would offer flexibility in the long term. As many processes were being created from scratch, selecting a system which could operate effectively out of the box was a priority, but North Tyneside also had a number of requirements for customisation to allow the system to meet local demands and grow with the department over time.
Adam Hagg, Customer Interface and Service Improvement Manager at North Tyneside Council, explains what led the council to choose Orchard AccuServ Repairs and Maintenance:
“We shortlisted a number of suppliers and carried out on-site demonstrations to get a better understanding of their products. Through the procurement process we felt that AccuServ offered the best combination off the shelf suitability and the ability to be configured to meet local demands. One size doesn’t fit all any more, and we needed to be able to personalise the service we offered to reflect the needs of the area and the community. We felt that AccuServ was the best choice, as other options came with a fixed feature set and no option to help us improve and tailor the platform to our own needs over time.”
After selecting Orchard AccuServ as the successful supplier in September 2018, North Tyneside Council moved immediately into a rapid implementation process, with just six months to get the new system up and running before the launch date of 1st April 2019. Adam Hagg explains:
“We had a really good relationship with the directors and programmers at AccuServ. We had every confidence we’d be able to deliver something functional from day one, and the AccuServ team worked hard to deliver this.”
Working closely with the development team at Orchard AccuServ, North Tyneside Council’s small implementation team worked not only to develop and implement the Repairs and Maintenance system, but to develop and distribute training across the 400 North Tyneside employees who’d be using the new system. After an intensive initial training process in the month leading up to launch, the North Tyneside team continued to work closely with AccuServ to provide longer term training and support.
“It felt like the launch deadline wasn’t just a North Tyneside priority”, explains Adam, “we had the eyes and ears of The Orchard AccuServ to be sure we’d be ready for day one, and we were successful. We delivered our first gas service on 1st April 2019, and we’ve had lots of happy customers since then as a result.”
A year down the line from the successful launch of the Repairs and Maintenance platform, North Tyneside Council has continued to develop their usage of the system, and has seen ongoing benefits. Adam explains:
“We’ve been able to automate processes we did manually, like risk assessment and allowing sub-contractors to sign off work. The automation processes are helping us improve the way we share information with our customers too. Rather than letters and emails we’ve introduced a system of auto-generated text messages, so tenants receive confirmation when a repair is registered, a reminder and an alert when our team is en route to a repair.
This has made a massive difference to the customer journey, reduced no-access appointments, and allowed us to really listen to what our customers want and reflect that in the service we provide to them.
We’ve really benefited from the system’s flexibility. We’re able to look at our business processes and adapt AccuServ to fit. It’s not one size fits all.”
Adam and the team at North Tyneside are optimistic about the future, too. The council is planning to roll out even more advanced features, with work underway to introduce an online customer portal where tenants can book repairs, track scheduled jobs and provide feedback and satisfaction scores.
“I’d certainly recommend other housing associations and local authorities use Orchard AccuServ Repairs and Maintenance. We were able to quickly implement and get it running, then work with Orchard and the team to continue to develop new functionality. The team are really responsive to our requests and often provide advice and guidance on how we can improve things ourselves. We’ve established really good relationships with everybody from Orchard, and we’re positive about where we’re going with the product.”
“I’d certainly recommend other housing associations and local authorities use Orchard AccuServ Repairs and Maintenance. We’ve established really good relationships with everybody from Orchard, and we’re positive about where we’re going with the product.”