First Time Fix vs First Viable Fix

In our industry KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are not just important internally and as a contract performance tool for our direct clients but are also published externally for various stakeholders such as resident groups, boards and other oversight committees (not to mention the press).

‘First Time Fix’ is used extensively within social housing repairs and the term is often bandied about with little understanding of the underlying processes – but this doesn’t stop the achievement of 100% First Time Fix being set as a goal. The question here is not whether targets are a good thing but is this a good target to measure.

So what does First Time Fix mean? There are a few definitions around but the basic understanding is that the issue is resolved on the first visit. For our trade (PVCu or Aluminium window and door repairs) this would mean after receiving the order to solve a window that isn’t closing our engineer would arrive at site, assess the issue, identify any parts that are required, retrieve these parts from their van and undertake the repair. Who wouldn’t want 100%?

So far so easy…   

Now there are some issues that this KPI does not cover such as resident satisfaction and at what cost this ‘First Time Fix’ was attained as well as whether the supporting processes were actually ‘Right First Time’ (if needed at all) but I’d like to leave that for another post.
My real problem with this KPI is that is assumes that all responsive works are equal and that 100% is actually obtainable. To be clear we strive for KPI’s within Prima, but these have been developed with a full understanding of our trade such as supply chain issues and health & safety requirements.

To explain my point I will give two examples. On a typical reactive repairs contract for our trade around 10%-15% of the orders will be for sealed unit replacements. Each sealed unit is required to be exact in the width, height and depth – to the millimetre. These are bespoke manufactured items. Even with the fastest turnaround (and a sensible budget) next day would be a push which in our context here would mean another visit. This would be recorded as a failure against ‘First Time Fix’

On another call we may be requested to adjust an opening window. This information will most likely be all that we will receive. When arriving on site the engineer will perform a risk assessment for the initial inspection and then enhance this for the work that is required. If the opening light has to be removed to re-fix some hinges and the assessment is that the weight/hazard is too great for a single person then, although we will try, it is not always possible to re-route another engineer at that precise time to allow the work to be completed. Again another failure against the KPI.

Are these failures? It is interesting to note that given unlimited budgets both of these ‘failures’ are technically solvable but would not be commercially ‘viable’.

So our proposal (and what we as a company use) – ‘First Viable Fix’.

This basically means we review each visit via the work coding and rate the the viability of completing on the first or second visits and push these results to a real-time dashboard. All visits that cannot be completed at the first attendance (because they may need manufactured items or a second pair of hands etc) should always be completed on the second visit.

In practice over the last 15 years we have perfected our ability to automate the process of defining the viability of completing within the first or second visit. One of the results of this work has actually been a marked overall increase in the First Viable Fix (single visits) as during the detailed assessment of the work type there are often decisions that can be made and supply chain tweaks to allow first visit completion.

This is not a static indicator and for every FVF (first viable fix) failure the job is marked to be de-briefed and dissected by hand to see where improvements can be made. A lot of the big wins have already been gained but the ‘long tail’ nature of this problem means there is always improvement – and of course it is self-reinforcing. The more jobs that are completed within FVF allows more management time to improve the smaller volume / harder to crack gains.

So our job is to ensure 100% of jobs are complete on their First Viable Fix. And then to constantly analyse the jobs that are marked as two viable visits and move as many of these to be able to complete on the first visit through process improvement and innovation.

To maintain the push to constantly improve we publish the previous month’s top three KPI’s on our website homepage (including First Viable Fix). These gives us all at Prima the biggest oversight committee – the world wide web.

Our next stage is to break down and publish the individual contract results (albeit anonymised) on a monthly basis along with resident comments (both good and bad). This is part of our wider aim to build trust and confidence through transparency and results. What we aim to demonstrate is that by selecting the right KPI’s and the right contract types all efforts can be focused on increasing (the right) targets.

We are currently building out our blog comments but we would love to hear from you on how you find the current KPI’s – please feel free to email or tweet @prima_service or drop a comment on our facebook or google plus pages.

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