Halton Housing Trust has chosen mobile workforce software from 1st Touch (www.1sttouch.com). The not-for-profit housing association, which was formed when Halton Borough Council transferred its housing stock in 2005, manages 6200 homes in the Cheshire Towns of Widnes and Runcorn. By enhancing their customer interface and responsiveness, Halton Housing Trust believes that mobile workforce software can help them to meet their main objective of 'Improving People's Lives'. The intention is to roll the new mobile software out across all customer facing areas of the Trust. 1st Touch is already being used by approximately 25 of the responsive repairs maintenance technicians at the Trust.
Identifying a new mobile solution
Prior to choosing 1st Touch, the Trust already had experience of mobile technology from a previous system they had used. However, the earlier software had a number of limitations. The decision was taken to identify a more flexible and scalable mobile solution that could grow with the Trust's requirements and which was capable of being used across the organisation. 1st Touch was chosen as it has the ability to be deployed across different areas of the organisation as required. In addition, 1st Touch had already developed integration with the Trust's new Aareon QL housing management system.
As Carole Galsworthy, Director of ICT & Business Improvement at Halton Housing Trust explains: "We were very aware of the benefits of mobile technology as our aspirational aim is to get colleagues out of the office and amongst our customers and communities and to ensure everyone is working as flexibly as possible in when, where and how they work. When we upgraded our Housing Management System to Aareon QL, we felt that this was the ideal time to review our mobile strategy. With 1st Touch, there was not only an existing integration link to Aareon but most importantly there were things that their software could deliver that we would not easily have been able do with the previous solution and which also supported where we want to be in the future.
"1st Touch also proved to be straightforward to deploy. Originally, we were going to move to 1st Touch as part of Phase 2 of our new Housing Management System implementation. However, when we looked at the responsive repairs module, we realised that we could move to it easily in Phase 1 with just a few tweaks."
The immediate benefits of having 1st Touch in place are that Halton Housing Trust will be able to capture everything they and their customers need whilst talking with a customer in their home. Customers will also see a more comprehensive level of services available through the Trust's employees when they meet them.
Other benefits are on hand too. As Carole Galsworthy notes, "With the new mobile system in place, we will benefit greatly from the efficiencies derived from having colleagues who do not need to return to base between each visit. This not only ensures that we can respond faster and saves a significant amount of time but it also reduces fuel and transport costs enormously.
"In addition, as 1st Touch is a real-time system, the software provides good visibility of data too, which is particularly important for our customer services colleagues who are now able to know the exact progress in the field when talking to customers."
Carole Galsworthy also feels that the benefits will continue to add up over time. In her view, "it's still early days but we can see that more and more benefits of the new system will appear in the future. We are mapping these benefits closely and will review them."
More Mobile Inroads Ahead
Over the next year to eighteen months, Halton Housing Trust plans to introduce 1st Touch mobile workforce software into other business areas including: housing services, voids management, the regeneration and investment team and the estate services team as well as extending this functionality to the remainder of the construction services team. Ultimately, there could be up to 120 mobile users across the business.
As Carole Galsworthy says, "We are quite driven by mobile technology and we want to give it to whoever needs it, especially those delivering benefits to our customers. 1st Touch is working closely with us to identify these opportunities and they are taking the time to understand our business and what we are trying to achieve. We look forwards to seeing the fruits of the technology as it is adopted by new areas of the business."
Robert Dent CEO of 1st Touch believes that Halton Housing Trust's enterprise-wide stance will bring significant benefit to their customers. In his view, "Halton has decided to introduce mobile technology right across the organisation. Ultimately, then, all mobile staff will be able to serve their customers more responsively, whilst at the same time delivering efficiencies to the business as a whole. Indeed, it is very impressive to see such a well-integrated customer-centric approach to adopting and deploying enterprise-wide mobile technology."