From sole traders to businesses with multiple engineers, efficient job management is critical. Propeller’s software enables plumbing and heating companies of all sizes to manage their appointments in real time from initiation through to completion, including stock management and invoicing. It automates customer communications, triggering reminders by SMS, email and letter and can also be used for customer satisfaction follow-ups. The software is pre-loaded with industry-specific certification across numerous compliance points including COVID-19 risk assessments, enabling digital certification on completion of inspections.
The subject: ateb Group
The ateb Group is a registered social landlord in west Wales. The company was founded in 1981 initially as Pembrokeshire Housing Association, delivering new affordable homes for both rural and urban communities. Since then, the Group has expanded through mergers with several care and repair organisations as well as Mill Bay Homes. Ateb’s team of 13 now service almost 3000 properties.
Ateb’s gas servicing and compliance had historically been managed using an existing solution, with other areas tracked using spreadsheet programmes. Operationally, the previous system couldn’t manage new MOT-style servicing regulations and the disconnect between different software generated significant manual admin. Reports could only be run by the IT department due to the complexity of the systems involved, creating time lags between actual and reported activity meaning reports were already out of date by the time they were completed.
Ateb had in fact resorted to a manual system of spreadsheets and associated processes, purely to ensure that records were compliant.
Antony James, ateb’s Maintenance and Compliance manager had been part of the AGSM MOT-style LGSR working group. He had already gained approval from ateb’s board to adopt the new approach when the changes brought about by the AGSM’s landmark victory to bring long-awaited improvements to regulation 36a came into force.
However, it was evident that the existing systems could not accommodate the new approach. Meanwhile, ateb attended the AGSM conference where they were introduced to Propeller, and
so in 2019, the two companies began work on scoping requirements for an improved system wholly based on Propeller’s software.
Deborah Boden, business development director at Propeller says: “We were so lucky to have found a partner who was so well-matched to the task in hand. Where there were gaps in our knowledge the ateb team were always willing to devote their time and experience to help us understand how the solution would work in practice despite still having to do their day jobs. We simply couldn’t have done it without the support all the way from the Chief Executive down.”
Working closely with ateb’s Maintenance and Compliance management team throughout the process, Propeller scrutinised all aspects of current systems and activities in close detail, to develop a solution that would encompass all of ateb’s requirements. With an experienced team dedicated to the project, Propeller took full ownership of any issues raised along the way, ensuring that they were tackled and resolved. Close joint development between the two businesses allowed Propeller to fine-tune software to maximise the user experience, benefitting future users as well as ateb’s engineers and support team.
From the mobile app used by engineers on the road to the real-time dashboard accessible to anyone in the organisation, interfaces were developed with the user experience in mind. The initial dashboard gives an accurate snapshot of all relevant compliance areas at a glance, with the facility to drill down into individual areas for more detailed analysis.
After several months of scoping out requirements, on-boarding with Propeller began in May 2019 and took just nine weeks, going live across the Group in June 2019.
Crucially, since implementing Propeller, ateb has consistently recorded 100% compliance for gas servicing.
Initial investment into the new software has already been offset by tangible, measurable returns on investment including a 30 hour-per-week saving on administration time previously required to ensure compliance records were kept up to date and accurate.
This in turn has eased pressure on the team, reducing errors and therefore risk. Other less tangible but equally important results include improvements to staff morale, and increased customer satisfaction.
Nick Hampshire, ateb Chief Executive says: “From day one, Propeller demonstrated they understood our needs and bought into our ateb customer-led DNA. Their style of agile ‘get things done’ service delivery was particularly beneficial where we need to collaboratively design and build robust solutions.
Since implementing, Propeller has provided our operational teams with a powerful and expandable system to effectively manage the group’s multiple compliance programme of works. From an assurance perspective, we now have a real time view of compliance outcomes helping us to know we are keeping our customers safe in their homes.”