Hampshire fire and rescue service
FireWatch helps Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service support reduction in staffing costs of around £1.5m per annum through flexible crewing and business transformation.
Today’s Fire and Rescue Service deals with a diverse variety of emergencies and is also responsible for a range of important community safety and fire prevention work.
UK Fire and Rescue Services are currently undergoing significant changes, driven by a desire to continue to improve the way in which these services are provided, whilst meeting challenging business transformation and efficiency objectives.
This will in turn support the achievement of a reduction in staffing costs of approximately £1.5m per annum.
This has caused an evolution in operational working practices and resulted in a significant shift from traditional rota patterns to more flexible working and variable crewing arrangements.
Linked to these changes are demands for access to integrated data and reporting, and improved collaboration across the various support departments involved in ensuring the right skills, resources and equipment are available, now and in the future, to meet organisational objectives.
Against this complex and changing backdrop, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) recognised the important role that technology could play as an enabler for organisational change and efficiency savings, and launched a search for suitable IT solutions.
HFRS was seeking a sophisticated, modern ERP solution that addressed specific, complex Fire Service needs. Key requirements were that it could assist in the efficient management of staff and availability planning, streamline and co-ordinate the activities of departments, and integrate activities and data flows to plan and manage resource more effectively.
It was also important was that core data could be integrated in real-time with a new mobilisation system.
In addition, Hampshire wanted the ability to deploy self-service Web facilities and business process management capabilities to staff. A key driver for this was to enable provision of targeted user interfaces and a controlled environment, as well as more efficient access to, and processing of, data through purpose-designed workflows.
Hampshire’s search began by focusing on various standalone resource management systems, but through this process it quickly became apparent that the end purpose of everything the organisation did – from a contract, training and development, and asset management perspective – was to serve overall operational objectives.
The search process also highlighted that organisation data was dispersed across multiple, disconnected IT systems, and many processes still relied on paper-based procedures and spreadsheets. It was agreed that managing such a diverse and complex organisation in an optimal way would prove a major challenge with the existing infrastructure.
Once the need for a new, modern infrastructure to drive change and efficiency, and support compliance, was recognised by senior managers, FireWatch®, a market-proven solution, was selected to help achieve HFRS’s objectives.
Hampshire also moved forward with Infographics’ FloSuite® Business Process Management and Middleware solution, primarily to address additional third party integration needs and process management requirements, including Web form delivery, self-service, and other workflows.
- Dynamic, automated vision of crewing availability, with in-built ‘understanding’ of the complexities/rules regarding multiple contracts, roles and skills, plus ability to aggregate/provide this information within one central location
- Integrated and in-built awareness of posts, contracts, roles and skills, which dynamically accounts in real-time for impacts on crew availability information and future effective dates/known changes
- Ability to enable co-ordinated management of staff fulfilling multiple roles and cope with potential for varying qualifications that can be utilised and counted in crewing figures at any given point during a day
- Support for flexible resilience or ‘personnel reserve’ availability processes
- Modelling of Stations, Appliances and Base Crewing Counts at both planned and minimum levels based on qualifications, resource and appliance availability
- Ability to access and update availability via a number of communication channels including Web/self-service, text and others
- Awareness of real-time system changes to availability, and ability to drive notifications to managers of the related impacts
- Support for dynamic change, visually represented by colour-coded availability displays and staff numbers based on real-time information. (This is derived from changes to contracts, detachments, sickness, holidays, exceptions, booking on/off, skill assessments at incidents, qualification expiry, drills, incident attendance, training courses, appliance defects/maintenance and many other scenarios)
- Support for flexible business process management and pre-processing workflow layer that can be accessed internally, or via the Internet
- Ability to integrate with the local authority’s SAP® system to facilitate seamless pay processes
- Mobilisation interface – bi-directional interface between FireWatch and HFRS’s mobilisation solution (currently in progress)
Hampshire chose to work with Infographics, an established specialist supplier to the Fire and Rescue sector, and purchased their FireWatch Enterprise Resource Planning and Management Solution, and FloSuite Business Process Management Solution.
The successful deployment of FireWatch involved the replacement of multiple standalone departmental systems with one integrated solution, now used to plan and manage resource across the Service. It has replaced disparate solutions for:
Human Resource Management; Wholetime, Retained and Support Staff Availability; Event and Drill Recording; Maintenance of Competency; Formal Training Delivery; Fleet and Asset Management; Health and Safety; and Reporting and Analysis.
Additional project elements were delivered using the FloSuite and integrated with the core FireWatch solution. These included Self-service workflow/forms automation and interfaces with SAP for payroll purposes.
With Self-service, employees can remotely access and update their personal information, and view and update their availability information via a Web browser. Staff can also request holidays, access personal development information, request training, and use other functions. Self-service also integrates with the FireWatch Availability Service, providing real-time exception notifications to managers via text, email or other channels when staff change their status. Updates are also triggered within the FireWatch duty planner and map-based availability views when staff book on/off.
Support new working practices
Another key aspect of the availability element of the deployment is that Hampshire can now support new working practices, including Wholetime and Retained staff working seamlessly together. The ability to be able to use joint resourcing of appliances, and also detach and cover resourcing gaps between the different contract types using one system, is also crucial.
As a final phase of the project, Hampshire switched off its previous standalone Retained Availability system after completing a live rollout of FireWatch Retained Availability, Web-based Self-service, a ‘real-time’ Availability Map, Mobile/PDA Web Client, and Availability Service (text/pager and impact rules engine).
Automating business processes
Additional new automated systems and processes are also now in place, within individual departments and across HFRS at an organisation-wide level. These streamline a range of procedures, including automated payments, and maintenance of competency recording directly from incident recording, training or other sources.
Efficient and flexible crewing project
The deployment of the FireWatch and FloSuite systems has underpinned Hampshire’s Efficient and Flexible Crewing Project, aimed at transforming the way in which resource levels and deployment of operational staff are planned and managed. It is estimated that this project will deliver around £1.5m in savings pa by supporting reduced staffing costs, through flexible crewing and business transformation.
Mick Crennell, Area Manager, HFRS, said:
“At a time when the Fire and Rescue Service is focused on achieving more with fewer resources, FireWatch has been able to help Hampshire FRS increase operational efficiency and support our efficient and flexible crewing project. This will in turn support the achievement of a reduction in staffing costs of approximately £1.5m per annum.
“Many more benefits will be realised as the application’s deeper functions are made available to users; it is recognised that the integrated nature of FireWatch will greatly assist and lead to significant operational improvements. This will, along with enhanced organisational knowledge through better use of information, release still further opportunity for improved service and efficiency.”
Infographics is now working with Hampshire to deliver several major follow-on projects, including: shared Control Centre integration using the FireWatch Mobilisation System interfaces, and further integration with the new shared County Council, Police and Fire and Rescue Service systems. These projects are aimed at helping achieve further efficiencies and improved services through greater collaboration and co-ordination between partner organisations.
- Increased operational efficiency has supported Hampshire’s Efficient and Flexible Crewing Project, which will in turn deliver a reduction in staffing costs of approximately £1.5m pa
- The ability to recognise and address individual competency needs before expiry dates, resulting in an improved ability to fulfil Health and Safety and moral obligations to provide a highly-trained workforce
- Improved organisational confidence in the competency status of staff to attend incidents through the direct integration of skills information and availability with changes in competency status. (This is due to assessments or automatic refresh timelines being immediately reflected, rather than updating only after manual processes have been undertaken across separate systems)
- Greater opportunities to report, analyse and manage organisational performance through improved integration of information and data across departments and functions
- Elimination of duplication, plus greater inter-departmental working, improving business operation time and reducing the process burden on staff
- Reduced opportunity for data entry errors, and improved data protection controls resulting from greater data accuracy – leading to increased organisation confidence in internal information
- Improved service delivery across business units as a result of simplified and more customer-focused working practices. Continuous improvement and rationalised operation is now possible, as information and data can be accessed across the Service to provide improved service and facilities
- Removal of in excess of 100 paper-based and online forms and spreadsheets from across the Service, which were previously duplicated and unconnected
- Greater degree of personal accountability resulting from the removal and rethink on authorisation and validation points, which included elimination of unnecessary checking (approx. 500 claims per month)