We have worked with housing providers to procure over £5 billion of asset management services.
Improving lives, creating opportunity
echelon was appointed to facilitate the procurement of the repairs, planned works and gas servicing and installations contract for Basildon Council.
We undertook an initial scoping exercise to gain an understanding of Basildon Council’s primary objectives and aspirations for the new service and 57 specific improvements were identified, all of which were incorporated as requirements in the development of the tender documents and the new service going forward.
A single provider was recommended to deliver all services as a single integrated model using a long-term contract to encourage investment from the service provider and its supply chain.
Morgan Sindall Property Services was appointed to deliver the £336.7 million contract over 15 years. Following a robust mobilisation programme facilitated by echelon, it is carrying out repairs, maintenance and planned improvement works to the council’s housing stock. It is also undertaking repairs and maintenance work to its non-residential properties as well as undertaking gas servicing, repairs and boiler renewals to 10,000 domestic gas heating systems.
echelon was appointed to review the existing service delivery of United Welsh’s asset management services while identifying the needs and aspirations of the contract’s stakeholders going forward.
The aim of the procurement process was to develop a model to improve customer service standards and reduce the time it takes to resolve enquiries from the first point of contact.
A detailed analysis of the service levels and cost of service delivery identified the strengths and weaknesses of existing service provision and highlighted aspirations for the service going forward.
The options open in relation to commercial models were also considered and following a comprehensive review of United Welsh’s asset management services, a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) was decided upon.
Mears emerged from the process as the preferred partner and was appointed to manage the delivery of asset management services through the new WOS – Celtic Horizons.
The organisation, which was mobilised over 16-weeks becoming fully operational in 2013 and has grown steadily over the first five years of operation, from 92 employees to over 150, providing services to 5,800 properties. Training and apprenticeship opportunities have remained at the core of the model and it continues to deliver on increasing and improving customer satisfaction.
Creating a collaborative culture
echelon was appointed to reprocure an outsourced contract to deliver repairs and maintenance services on behalf of Riverside for its properties in southern and central England.
The key driver was to create a service that looked and felt like it was part of Riverside rather than a separate entity, emulating the ethos and culture of its in-house contractor which delivers repairs and maintenance services in the north of England.
Following a comprehensive review of Riverside’s repairs and maintenance services, a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) model, including personnel from a contractor and Riverside, was decided upon and Riverside Direct was created.
Mears emerged from a competitive dialogue process as the preferred partner and was appointed to manage the delivery of services in central and southern England, under the Riverside Direct brand.
echelon held a culture and values workshop with employees from both organisations to create a common ethos and a set of shared values for the new organisation which is designed to look and feel very much like an in-house contractor.
A Mobilisation Manager was appointed by echelon to ensure that the tight timeframe for implementation of the new WOS was met.
Riverside Direct provides a wide range of services, including reactive repairs and maintenance, planned works, repairs and maintenance under the Property MOT programme, gas servicing and installation and 24-hour out of hours service.
“Employing a procurement specialist, such as echelon at an early stage of the process, allowed Basildon Borough Council to maximise the opportunity to engage with all stakeholders, define clearly what it wanted from the contract and also to procure this in a timely and effective manner”
We extract and analyse hard data and undertake detailed stakeholder consultation to review services holistically, enabling tailored recommendations for improvement.
Working with residents to provide quality housing services and decent homes
echelon has been commissioned by Homes for Haringey to undertake two reviews of its direct labour organisation, Haringey Repair Services (HRS), which comprises a responsive repairs team (including the repairs control centre); a planned works team (which includes void works) and a finance services team.
Following a rigorous stakeholder engagement programme in 2012 we made a series of recommendations for developing HRS which led to cashable savings in the region of £2.9 million and a fall in operating costs from £19.4 million to £16.5 million.
Four years later we carried out a second two-stage review to ascertain how the recommendations from 2012 had been implemented and focus on the future delivery of the repairs service.
While performance had greatly improved and the recommended policies and procedures from the 2012 review were all in place, we discovered that they weren’t always followed.
We provided a detailed report making recommendations to ensure that the procedures were implemented properly, and a service improvement plan was developed identifying 16 key areas with target dates set against priority.
There is now a greater focus on communication with contractors and the contact centre and the new ICT system is allowing HRS to make great strides in terms of mobile working and more effective use of materials.
Improving services through a holistic review
echelon was appointed to review the existing service delivery model for repairs, voids and planned works and to consider potential alternative delivery models including outsourced, shared service models, joint ventures and limited liability partnerships and wholly-owned subsidiaries.
A multi-stakeholder workshop identified three primary drivers– greater control over the service, cost savings and efficiencies and Incentives for service improvement. As well as identifying objectives and aspirations for the future it highlighted strengths and weaknesses with the existing service delivery model.
Following the detailed options appraisal, it was decided to procure an integrated asset management contract with a single provider with refinement of the new delivery model through dialogue.
It was recommended that EDDC extend its existing contracts and then enter into a contract with a single service provider for a minimum of 10 years, building a series of recommendations into the new delivery model.
Redefining in-house repairs
echelon was appointed to carry out a review of Trafford Housing Trust’s (THT) in-house repairs service, focusing on its policies and offer to customers with a view to driving efficiency and growing the volume and value of revenue streams.
We carried out a two-stage review process starting with analysis of the existing delivery model and a review of the team and the client/contractor function, the repairs policy and terms and conditions.
A series of benchmarking exercises and workshops were held with a focus on productivity and value.
Residents identified 51 areas for consideration while the consultation with stakeholders and operatives highlighted 42 operational and 30 internal objectives.
The second stage was an options appraisal, considering a range of delivery models. The outcome was to retain the DLO, which aside from some easily fixable issues, was delivering a good service with good benchmark costs, but 21 recommendations were made for future delivery.
A detailed implementation plan was developed to redefine the service and project teams were set up in four key areas with an interim project manager appointed to lead.
Customer satisfaction has since risen, the Handyfix Service is no longer making a loss and productivity has increased as a result of more efficient systems and processes that allow operatives to do more work in a day.
“It is not about management and consultants implementing change, which is what had happened in the past when reviews had been carried out. With echelon it is about engaging with all of our staff and getting them on board to change the culture for the future”
Homes for Haringey
Helping organisations to develop and implement long-term strategies to make the best use of their assets.
A model for building relationships with local authority partners
echelon was appointed to review the current asset management plan and develop a new strategy focusing on dealing with difficult properties, developing relationships with local authority partners and giving A2 Dominion visibility in the many boroughs in which it works.
Following a five-stage asset management review, we built a ground-up structure for a new asset management strategy.
Existing documents were reviewed, and a gap analysis was carried out, to ensure that they were fully up to date and that they captured the organisation’s aspirations while reflecting what is practically deliverable. Additional sections were created as required and new documents were drawn up with input from the asset management review group.
A five-year asset management plan, which was designed to be able to evolve, was put in place enabling A2 Dominion to take a more holistic, strategic approach to managing and planning for its assets.
Vision for housing maintenance
echelon was appointed to implement an overarching Housing Asset Management Strategy (HAMS) for Croydon Council, creating a joined-up approach to housing maintenance across all departments and replacing a series of standalone documents.
With an emphasis on high-cost properties and those that are difficult to maintain, the HAMS’ aim was to bring consistency to housing maintenance and to ensure decent, affordable homes for all in great neighbourhoods.
It focuses on ensuring that investment is going into the right properties at the right time, data from service providers is driving decision-making and that customers’ aspirations are reflected.
A Croydon Standard has been established to meet the aspirations of residents, who will be more involved in shaping service delivery and in the procurement of housing services.
The council now takes a more proactive approach to housing maintenance, leading to an enhanced ratio of capital expenditure to revenue expenditure and a better understanding of components’ performance.
The HAMS has provided potential solutions, such as alternative use, for properties that have historically cost a lot of money to maintain. It also outlines plans to create social and affordable homes; reduce anti-social behaviour and fly tipping and create light, clean and safe local street scenes.
A new suite of KPIs has been developed to evaluate the HAMS’ success against a number of objectives and there will be a formal annual review with a progress report issued to all stakeholders.
“The development of the Housing Asset Management Plan has helped to create closer working relationships across the asset management, capital delivery and responsive repairs services. We have
developed common objectives to measure our performance against and our decisions are being made based upon wider asset management principles, which is helping us to target resources where they
Personal profiling insight enables organisations to better motivate and develop individuals, teams and cross-partnership working.
Using behavioural insight to recruit and develop staff and help teams work better together
Echelon Director Aaron John is a fully trained Thomas International Practitioner and is qualified to undertake Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA).
A PPA, which takes just eight minutes to complete, provides an accurate insight into how people behave at work. It gives employers a greater level of certainty when recruiting, identifying where to maximise their learning and development budget, and understanding where to boost morale to avoid staff turnover, as well as enabling them to spend less time managing underperformers and focus more time on those who will truly drive the business forward.
It can also be used to build teams, identifying people with different work-based behavioural profiles that can complement each other and help team members to understand how their colleagues work.
“echelon has provided this council with a first-class service and has proved to be innovative and dynamic in its approach to overcoming barriers to success. I look forward to continuing to work with echelon in developing our service and contract delivery, and to expanding this relationship into other areas”
Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council
Supporting organisations to mobilise new services
Shaping a new service
echelon was appointed to manage the mobilisation of an eight-year contract to support Wandle’s in-house DLO with repairs and voids works.
Following a three-stage competitive selection process Mears was awarded the contract, providing technical support and expertise, IT infrastructure and access to its supply chain, while the repairs service, and its staff, remain employed by Wandle.
echelon put an Interim Manager in place, to lead on shaping the new service and improving processes, with a particular focus on IT, HR and finance.
Wandle’s policies and procedures were collaboratively reviewed and echelon helped it to create and embed KPIs, as well as training staff to analyse and understand the data.
The IT system was reconfigured to integrate with the repairs service, providing a clear picture of where money was being spent and on what type of repairs.
echelon supported Wandle with the recruitment of new staff to work on the contract and worked with Wandle’s HR team to realign the DLO, ensuring that all skillsets were sufficiently covered.
Budgets were set to align with the new project and echelon helped Wandle to drill down beyond key budget heading information, to establish exactly where and how money was being spent.
The Interim Manager stayed in place for a month after the contract went live to ensure that all KPIs were producing correct results.
Creating innovative new models which drive savings for clients
Using innovation to drive savings
echelon started looking at ways in which the traditional 3-star gas model could be improved following a review by the Association of Gas Safety Managers (AGSM) of the way in which gas boilers were bought, installed and serviced.
Prompted by the report, echelon used feedback from clients, contractors and manufacturers to explore what improvements could be made to address the AGSM’s concerns and drive improvements and efficiencies for clients.
The echelon 4-star gas model, builds on the 3-star model but with improvements including the inclusion of boiler replacements over the life of the contract with the full involvement of the service provider; profiling risk over the life of the contract reducing breakdown costs; the service provider is responsible for the boiler replacement programme from year two; the commercial model is built around a single annual price per property; costs for additional work are excluded from the annual price per property and agreed separately.
Clients using the 4-star model report a reduction in visits to properties and in calls from residents. Other benefits include budget certainty, with the ability to maximise boiler warranties and reducing the risk element of pricing breakdowns, with the service margin recycled back into the replacement cost.
Coaching staff on processes and procedures
As well as working with clients to procure and mobilise new services, echelon offers tailored training and development programmes to bring employees up to speed on new processes and procedures.
After working with Croydon Council to reprocure the majority of its asset management-based contracts and restructure its Homes and School Improvement Services team, echelon facilitated a training and development programme, providing instruction on the new contract requirements to the employees who would be involved in delivering them.
This included process mapping workshops to improve and embed processes, and presentations and interactive workshops covering areas such as the contract principles and the roles and responsibilities of individuals, as well as addressing the key issues relative to the different workstreams.
Workshops were held to introduce teams to the new commercial model and to train them on the Price Per Property and Price Per Void models that had been developed. echelon also supported the council with the implementation of its new IT system.
Following the training sessions, echelon produced a contract manual and guide, incorporating the information covered in the workshops, providing employees with a reference document outlining the main areas of the contract.
echelon worked with Charnwood Borough Council to procure a five-year contract to deliver improvements to homes across the borough, which was awarded to Fortem. echelon was re-engaged by Charnwood to deliver joint training to council and contractor employees who would be delivering the contract on the ground.
echelon also ran workshops to help employees understand how the contract would work in practical terms, looking at what was going to be done differently, covering areas including governance arrangements, levels of authority and dealing with disputes.
Following the training sessions, echelon produced a detailed handbook, for use by both parties to the new partnership to manage the new contract. This helped build shared understanding and positive working relationships to enable the contract’s success.