Maintaining and repairing a house is one thing. Keeping up with the maintenance and repair needs of an entire community is a whole different ball game. Multiply that times more than 9,000 communities worldwide, and you get a sense of the logistical challenges faced by Associa, a leader in residential community management. IFS Field Service Management (IFS FSM™) on Microsoft’s Azure cloud has helped Associa meet those challenges by providing a single solution to manage the service needs of its client base.
Since its founding in 1979, Dallas-based Associa has grown dramatically through acquisitions. That success also meant that all the operating entities in the system followed vastly different processes.
“Before, especially on the maintenance end, each of our divisions operated in a silo. There was no standardization. They dispatched things one way in this office, and a different way in the next office,” says Josh Warren, assistant vice president for field service at Associa. “Standardizing our processes has been a goal of Associa since 2012.”
Mobile field service management solution benefits
Associa took its time researching options and eventually it narrowed down its decision to IFS and another leading provider. But after looking deeper into both solutions, IFS quickly became the company’s top choice.
“With IFS FSM, we didn’t have to get three different pieces of software; it was a true end-to-end solution,” Warren says. “We knew we were going to have to integrate it with our other major systems, but we didn’t want to have to buy three systems to do our core business.”
Many of the benefits Associa has realized from IFS Field Service Management stem from the mobile functionalities built into the system. Using IFS FSM allows offices to send work orders directly to technicians’ tablets, where they can be accessed immediately. Technicians can then go straight to their first job and clock in when they get there. “We can bill two extra hours a day just by not having a technician come to the office every day,” notes Warren.
Mobility has also saved time in the company’s back offices. Before Associa introduced mobile devices, technicians typed work order notes into an email and sent it to the office, where someone then transferred the information to another system.
“We have about 50 different operations, so in each of those locations, someone was doing that process,” Warren explains. “Now, that person who was spending half their day keying stuff into the system can spend maybe an hour a day just reviewing it, and then spend that other time going out and talking to clients, generating more revenue.”
Keeping up with service-level agreements
IFS Field Service Management also helps Associa to better manage service level agreements. For example, if a technician had been sold to a site to work on every other Wednesday but was on vacation one of those days, the office would either find another technician to fill in, or more often than not, would try to make up the hours later.
Associa’s past processes made it so cumbersome to reconcile those hours that offices would sometimes wait until year-end to tackle the issue. But putting things off usually meant that an office would have to use up all of their man hours at the end of the year catching up on contracts, forcing them to give up any opportunities for additional time and material work.
That’s no longer the case. “Having something that’s real-time, data in and data out, keeps us closer in touch with where we need to be on our contracts, and allows us to change direction or fix it before it snowballs into a much bigger problem,” Warren says.
One of the biggest future benefits Associa expects to achieve with IFS FSM is the ability to manage future growth without increasing back office support. “We shouldn’t have to hire as many people to keep up with future growth,” predicts Warren. Now, those are some “future-proof” benefits.
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