Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is responsible for providing services to more than 200,000 Borough residents. With Government spending restrictions in place and a Council re-organisation underway, the Council needed to find more efficient ways of working whilst continuing to deliver excellent services to its citizens.
The business challenge
Berneslai Homes, a property management company, is responsible for managing more than 18,000 properties and providing landlord services to council tenants on the authority’s behalf. Reliance on time-consuming manual processes meant that its agency workers were spending a lot of time completing paper timesheets which then had to be reviewed and approved by Operational Managers before the information was manually entered into SAP. With hundreds of timesheets being completed and submitted weekly, agency workers needed a more efficient way of working.
The situation was slightly different for tradespeople who had been using SAP Mobile Asset Management since 2006 to receive their work allocations and record time against them. Drivers for change included the ending of SAP support for the product, the need to develop an app which could be used offline, and the capability to easily reconfigure the app for different services moving forward.
Furthermore, Berneslai Homes also saw the potential for process optimisation across three additional areas: the way it managed its work schedules, the process for tracing and managing stock movements between the centralised stores facility and job sites, and the production of CP12 gas certificates (an industry standard safety certificate for landlords).
Bluefin Solutions recommended custom SAPUI5 applications to support time management for agency workers, increase stores’ management visibility, and enable the digitisation of CP12 gas certificates. The applications would also allow for offline/online synchronisation to account for unreliable 3G/Wi-Fi in the field.
- The Agency Worker Timesheet Application (AWTA). This would enable tradespeople to view, on any device, a daily calendar of work orders and operations, and record their time against them. The submitted information would be electronically transferred into the Council's SAP system ready for review and approval by line management
- The Tradesperson Management Application (TMA). The application, which can be used offline, would enable gas engineers to electronically record and automate the inspection and production of CP12 gas certificates. When a tenant e-signs the CP12 certificate, a printed version is generated for them, and an electronic copy sent to, and stored in, the Council’s SAP system for retention. The application would also allow tradespeople to manage and update the status of their allocated jobs as well as monitor and replenish their van stock without having to drive to the centralised store. Finally, the application would enable tradespeople to order other materials remotely from stores, thus reducing downtime.
The implementation of the application was performed using Bluefin Solutions’ agile and collaborative approach. The field-based TMA application was developed using SAPUI5 and Phonegap, an enabling technology which supports full offline execution of SAPUI5 applications on mobile devices. Phonegap also facilitates the synchronisation of data collected whilst offline, back into SAP, when a tradesperson is connected to a network.
The business benefits
Barnsley has seen a number of benefits for both the Council and its citizens following the development and implementation of the SAPUI5 apps.
- Financial savings. The solution assists the Council to make financial savings across many areas. Efficiencies created through process-digitisation have enabled the re-deployment of four employees working solely on manually processing and inputting timesheet data, to higher-priority tasks. The TMA application also provides greater visibility of stock consumption to better control “stock waste” and “loss”
- Productivity gains. Enabling specific stock to be delivered to tradespeople in the field saves the 200 employees one hour per week. 200 extra “tradesperson-hours” per week is equivalent to five extra tradespeople in productivity. Consequently. more works orders can be completed in a working shift pattern
- Time savings. A number of processes are now being completed more efficiently – from timesheet submission optimisation to improved stock replenishment and traceability. Tradespeople now spend less time on administration, and line managers can approve work more efficiently with the conviction that the data provided is accurate and timely
- Environmental impact and compliance. Reduced journeys to the central stores to collect stock for job fulfilment lowers the Council’s carbon footprint. This contributes to the wider target demanded by the Climate Change Act to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, an important consideration for all local authorities.
The use of this application framework could also be widened and developed upon for other council employees and departments, such as social workers and law enforcement officers, to digitally transform service provision. But more importantly, it is a good example to other UK councils as to how more can be done with less through the use of mobile technology.
"The solution proposed by Bluefin Solutions, coupled with its agile approach, enabled Berneslai Homes to see the application being developed and enabled our input at every stage in the process. Moving forward, the use of the applications will continue to have major benefits to Berneslai Homes. Additionally, we are now thinking about how we can develop other areas of the business in the same way"
Alan Davies, Commercial Manager, Berneslai Homes
Why Bluefin Solutions?
"Bluefin Solutions brings a truly agile approach to software development, tremendously helping our IT team to prove that delivering projects can be done quickly by working with the business and moving through swift iterations of an idea. The projects delivered felt more like a collaboration than a contracted piece of work, something we’ve found invaluable in the months we’ve worked together."
Luke Sayers, Service Director, Information Services, Barnsley Council
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