Revitalising our systems usage to further enhance our operations, maintenance, and estate management.
Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust is steeped in history having been established in 1744. Today the facility supports both inpatients and outpatients as an acute hospital, and is dedicated to excellence in patient care and staff experience.
Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust have been Agility users since 2015. In 2021, Richard Clarke joined the team on the maintenance helpdesk. Becoming Business Information & Systems Manager in 2022, he started to take a review of where they were with their software usage, and which software tools they could take further advantage of. It was and still is a crucial part of Richard’s role to ensure software is being maximised to support enhanced operations.
Having worked on the maintenance helpdesk team previously, Richard saw more potential within Agility. He undertook a system review with the support of SSG Insight consultants, to see how the hospital could further utilise Agility.
As Richard described: “Unfortunately over the years we had not had the dedicated resource available to get our database where it should be. With various staff involved in leading the project and then moving into other roles, there had not been that consistency required to maximise our usage of it. Not only did we identify that the locations and assets were in need of updating, it was clear that the locations needed completely re-structuring for better navigation, data capture and reporting. I used our CAD drawings to ensure all locations are captured. Getting assets tagged and onto the system is an enormous task but we’re developing a plan to keep this and the creation of our PPMs on track.
I was excited to introduce a Triage Helpdesk as I knew this would bring better consistency with job capture, prioritisation and improve our ability to analyse reactive job requests. Prior to its implementation, I’d often be asked to confirm how many times a particular type of job had been raised or in a particular area. The improved structure and triage data makes these requests so much easier to answer and with much greater accuracy. The Helpdesk Team have adapted to the Triage capture method quickly and they’ve provided excellent feedback for further improvements. We also re-wrote the reactive workflow structure. My SSG Insight consultant was an enormous help with this, understanding our requirements and helping to incorporate all the improvements I wanted. We launched the cross-platform mobile app alongside the new database, our consultant also helped to tailor the app to our specific needs. The fact that we can now review the criticality of jobs and push them to the relevant team members through our updated workflows and automation is great and saves lots of time.
Agility has now enabled us with more immediate communication between the technicians and their managers and the Helpdesk. Examples include better dialogue and awareness across the team when parts are required, automated requests to call in specialist contractors, a more transparent path for seeking specific support with tasks and making managers aware of critical tasks, and keeping the customer informed of progress with their request – all achieved through email prompts implemented with our consultant’s support.
Working together with the team at SSG Insight, it has been a breath of fresh air to see it all come together – there is still some way to go but we are starting to see jobs being completed there and then rather than technicians using a desktop to log everything at the end of the week. Our data was previously unreliable in terms of how long it took for a job to be complete or even if it had been done, now we’re starting to use Agility to ensure that jobs are completed on the mobile app at the time, which will help us to understand time spent per job, helping us to allocate our resources and see what is possible in timescales available. This will support us to improve our operational performance, to plan our resources effectively and build a case for more resource where they are needed.
We’ve been an early adopter of the new SFG20 interface. This enables us to easily choose any of the SFG20 schedules and create PPMs, which come complete with checklists and all current legislation. The development team have been good at listening to early feedback and adapting the interface. As with the asset collation/upload, our PPM implementation journey is a big task but there is no doubt that the interface will make it a lot easier whilst also helping us to demonstrate compliance for audit purposes.
We now have more effective job management, we’re working more efficiently, and you can see there are far fewer open jobs as they are being deployed and completed on the system correctly. There is still some way to go, the journey is as much about re-educating the team as it is about implementing system improvements. Our people are starting to better use the system and it’s making us more effective.
It has been good to build our relationship with the team at SSG Insight and our account manager is in regular contact to see how we are doing. Plus, their consultancy support has helped us to identify areas for improvement, what more we can do, and importantly, how we do it.
Whilst there have been various members of our team involved in the Agility project over the years, I feel we are now in a much better place with it and I am confident that with the set-up we now have, it will support us to enhance our operations and maintenance well into the future.
Our next step is to do with kit rather than Agility, it would be far easier for the team to pop a robust mobile device in their pocket with easy access when they need it, rather than wrestle with the big, fragile tablets that they have currently, so we’re looking into this. 4G will also greatly improve their experience and ability to consistently use the app in real time. We have some more training to do and need to continue to push people to use the Agility system properly, but the tick buttons such as ‘arrived’, ‘completed’, etc. make it so much easier and the staff have embraced this. Another thing we’re looking at is getting all our CAD drawings into Agility Asset Maps. I‘ve already uploaded all of our CAD drawings as attachments, so that our engineers can view any location in detail, whether they are unfamiliar with that part of the hospital or busy tagging assets for system upload.
I’m currently in the process of creating our Live Dashboards. It is really easy to create a variety of effective visuals very quickly. We plan to display key data on a big screen in the office, and provide managers with dashboards tailored to their teams. Additional to this, I already use Power BI to produce a lot of our weekly/monthly reporting, and our SSG Insight consultant is helping me to identify the best way of delivering the specific reports I want, so we’re looking to upgrade to Business Tier Plus and make use of the API. We might even use the API to get our BMS system talking to Agility to automate the prompt creation of critical BMS tasks.
Our consultant is also helping us with a bespoke Guest Helpdesk Triage set up, with a view to enabling our customers to log their own maintenance requests, still making use of our automated Triage system to ensure tasks are correctly prioritised and maintaining consistent data capture. This will eventually free up Helpdesk time to tackle other important admin tasks.
There’s lots more we can do and we’ll continue to work in conjunction with the SSG Insight team to further maximise our use of Agility, and we’re looking forward to evolving our partnership with them and the Agility solution.”
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