FSI are finalists in the MITIE Business Innovation Award 2004, for their work on the Denne Maintenance project

FSI are finalists in the MITIE Business Innovation Award 2004, for their work on the Denne Maintenance projectFSI are finalists in the MITIE Business Innovation Award 2004, for their work on the Denne Maintenance projectFSI are finalists in the MITIE Business Innovation Award 2004, for their work on the Denne Maintenance project

FSI’s brief was to provide a solution for Denne’s client, Swale Housing Association, in Sittingbourne, Kent. Denne required a solution capable of managing the Association’s 3,700 dwellings and 1,000 garages, cataloging broken window call-outs through to boilers and radiators, and everything in-between.

Paul Hart, Director at Denne Maintenance, had identified the housing sector as a target market, but wasn’t prepared to fall into the same trap as all the other contractors. He found a partner in Amicus, who shared his vision, and together they developed a revolutionary (for the sector) partnering framework. Paul spoke at a conference hosted by FSI’s partner Xmbrace, targeted at the housing sector. It was here that discussions were made regarding how FSI’s integration with Xmbrace and their OPTI-TIME solution could save clients money. Xmbrace was brought on board for the Denne project.

To ensure that the solution was fully mobile, and implemented across the disparate workforce ‘out on the road’, the third partner involved in the integration was Cognito.
Partnering alongside Denne, FSI took the lead and wrote the integration tools required to allow the flow of data across the partners’ implementation of the scheduling solutions. According to Denne, the requirement for the development of the sector was to move to open book costed partnership. Hart explains: “This meant avoiding duplication of electronic information and tasks between the contractor and the client. All data would need to be shared and a system established to enable the end user to make a phone call to book an appointment and the maintenance operative to confirm, respond and act on the enquiry, within a sensible and efficient journey plan.” FSI’s Concept system partners through Xmbrace scheduling software to give absolute times, based on travel, optimum resources and other parameters, dovetailed with Cognito’s mobile data solution for real-time job dispatch and job tracking, to offer an integrated system. This groundbreaking integrated package is based on technology from the three partners.

The process snapshot:

  1. A job gets raised in the Concept Helpdesk and the FSI integration engine sends the job to OPTI-TIME
  2. OPTI-TIME decides who the best person to do the job is
  3. OPTI-TIME decided when to do the job based upon complex criteria
  4. An engineer requests a list of jobs from the FSI Integration Engine from his PDA
  5. FSI’s Integration Engine requests the engineer’s schedule from the OPTI-TIME system and sends the jobs to the engineers’ PDA
  6. The engineers process the jobs one at a time and send all job information to the FSI Integration Engine
  7. The FSI Integration Engine updates Concept and OPTI-TIME with job results

In Summary:

The process supports operatives for any form and mix of job dispatch from one or more day’s work at a time, through to one-job-at-a-time. When used in conjunction with the mobile data solution used on the operative’s hand-held device, in addition to retrieving job details, OPTI-TIME allows dynamic events to be captured, responded to and fed to the FSI Integration Engine; for example, job started, revised duration estimate and completed information. In addition, the mobile function offers an audit trail that returns message status, including job arrived on hand-held and viewed by operative. This information is available to enhance real-time scheduling.


The scheduling package from Xmbrace, as can be seen from the tables below, using data from FSI’s Concept, and enabled through Cognito’s mobile data solution, have offered not only far higher efficiencies for the client, but enabled a win/win/win solution.
WIN - The end-user is assured of the certainty of appointment, and banishes the traditional ‘waiting in’ syndrome.
WIN - The client gains open book accountability, with transparency of not only costs but work and productivity against any given service level agreement (SLA).
WIN - The contractor benefits from efficiencies of labour planning with the flexibility to respond and re-programme as each new call or event take place thus optimising productivity of tradesmen and releasing Supervisors to manage quality.

The net result is vastly improved customer satisfaction (greater than 95% satisfied or very satisfied), lower client costs for the total service (in the region of 10% to 20% plus internal savings in the region of 10%) and increased quality standards (greater than 95% against the standard with recalls less than 0.5%). The open book accounting system with fixed management fee provides the framework and stability that allows the contractor to strategically plan and invest for the future.

Business benefits:

  • Workforce productivity has increased
  • Job backlogs have disappeared
  • Appointments offered typically within a short timeframe
  • Denne through the partnering arrangements was able to ask Amicus for more work - which because the cost of labour is fixed, went straight to Amicus’s bottom line as a cost saving

Summary of development in housing sector:

  • Proven, integrated solution from FSI
  • 17 organisations adopting OPTI-TIME over last 12 months
  • Industry in state of change from contractor / cost focus, to partnership / service focus
  • Absolute need to offer and keep appointments
  • 20% to 40% productivity improvement
  • Reduction in call handling time
  • Improved quality of repair
  • Elimination of non-value added processes
  • Streamlining of organisations Recognition for IT

Best Practice:

This solution – implemented by Denne – is being included by the Audit Commission to feature in an IT Best Practice Guide for Housing Associations. From a May 2004 Inspection: “Swale is raising standards in service delivery.”

About the MITIE Business Innovation Award:
The award recognises the business benefits inherent in many partnering relationships, fostered by encouraging innovation and an entrepreneurial approach. All finalists will be automatically considered for this category, together with individual entrants. The judges will look for significant additional service benefits, added value or cost saving to the client and the innovation and entrepreneurial skills that produce business opportunity from an FM partnership. The PFM Partnership Awards, now in their eleventh year, are the most coveted awards in the Facilities Management industry. They recognise the best practice in partnering in facilities management between service suppliers and their clients.