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Building Services IT: All-in-one approach puts Swale in the driving seat

SWALE Heating uses Service Director from CS Group to manage its field service operations, taking full advantage of the latest mobile technology to enhance service levels and increase productivity at the same time.
Building Services IT: All-in-one approach puts Swale in the driving seat

Swale Heating. is a large central heating installation and maintenance company operating in Kent. For almost 40 years, Swale has delivered, installed and maintained heating systems for both domestic and corporate clients across a vast range of sectors. It has to provide high customer service levels.

When the the company decided to introduce a radical change to its method of working it chose CS Group's Service Director as its core operational business process system.

More than five years ago Swale Heating decided its existing systems were laborious and the task of logging customer details and problems took too much time. This was further compounded by the fact that once the data had been entered it was difficult to get the information to an engineer and receive information back from an engineer once a job had been completed. Swale was at that time operating an office system based upon Microsoft Access that had reached the point where it was not suitable for further development.

Swale identified that what they needed was to speed up customer call taking significantly and, at the same time, integrate and automate the flow of the required actions both to and from field engineers.

Call logging had to be rapid and scheduling to an engineer's call plan diary had to be done concurrently. The required benefits to the company had to be visible as increased engineer productivity and this was to be achieved by effective planning and getting rid of existing paperwork.

This was also to have the effect of increasing customer satisfaction because of the reliable and punctual service visits, rapid response and the demonstrable familiarity with the customer's installation.

Swale's IT department started on a selection process for a solution provider that had a reliable and established place in the market, and a product that could be adapted to their particular requirements.

Following a competitive tendering process the project was awarded to CS Group's Field Service & Hire Division.

In producing a definition of user requirements the following benefits had to be realised:

· cost saving by utilising mobile data;

· a combined call handling and scheduling process;

· system would provide open access to any functional requirement for information without the need to find associated paperwork or make a disruptive telephone call to a field engineer.

This later benefit would for example allow immediate escalation in the case of a gas leak and also allow monitoring of progress in real-time.

Swale took an all-in-one approach to the project. There was a need to see the business benefits across the board and it had to implement all of the functional requirements together. This test of supplier/customer working relationships proved satisfactory and the project was pursued with the necessary resource and determination.

Benefits achieved

CS Group's Service Director product has delivered the required operational and business benefits at Swale Heating. The company has more than 130 service engineers, 70 installers and 100 logistic and administrative internal staff.

Service Director has proved to be the right solution to cope with high levels of system use, especially by the radical use of mobile communications using GPRS devices (mobile email). This technology changes the hour-by-hour activity of the engineer in the field.

Effectively these devices allow all field actions to be part of the centralised business system - there and then, as they are required or completed. Swale Heating is a UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited company and is required to operate under the regulatory frameworks that exist in the gas and electrical trades.

Service Director produces all installation-specific certification automatically and allows archive (and therefore recall) of all jobs and activities. When undertaking work with local authorities these customers can have selective and secure access to the system to monitor all jobs that are being done by Swale for them - increasing business transparency and reducing administrative overhead.

Measurable increases

In use, the system has achieved measurable increases in field engineer productivity. Management reports available from the system using Crystal Reports show that an engineer's day can be backfilled at 10% per annum (that is more work per day), and in some cases this allows 1-2 extra calls per day when compared with the previous business system. Calendar based reporting enables routine and preventative maintenance jobs to be scheduled automatically.

Continuing development of the system is currently underway and this will allow vehicle (van) tracking using integrated GPS - making the possibility of artificial intelligence vehicle related job scheduling possible. The same tracking technology will also enable the possibility of automatic business mileage to be recorded for taxation purposes.

Parts tracking will also be enhanced to allow full traceability of material used in the field in case of manufacturer recall.

At Swale Heating, Service Director combined with the collaborative working relationship with CS Group has allowed a very effective business system to be produced. Management reports and financial information are readily available for all facets of the business.

The system reaches into the field with new mobile technology to provide a seamless operation throughout the company's operation, delivering high levels of customer satisfaction and significant business cost savings. Swale Heating prides itself on its outstanding track record of customer-focused service, made easy with Service Director from CS Group.

CS Group T: 01923 686 000
1 April 2007

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