Formability makes it work fast at Speedy Hire

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Following the principles utilised by Tesco, Speedy Hire is remodelling its chain of UK hire depots to help it meet the needs of its customers and further strengthen its platform for growth.

Where the supermarket giant has Tesco Extra, Tesco superstores and Tesco Express stores, Speedy will have Multi Service Centres (MSCs), Superstores and Local centres.

At the end of a five year roll out, Speedy expect to have 10-12 MSCs, up to 60 superstores, and around 200 local stores.

Speedy ingenuity
Its first MSC, a massive 8.5 acre site at Birchwood, Warrington with over 140 people, is up and running successfully.

At the MSC, the consolidation of administration from local branch outlets for Speedy's specialist businesses to a regional centre of excellence presented a real opportunity to improve processes.

Tracey Dean, Office Manager, at Speedy MSC Warrington explained, "before the MSC, equipment fleeting of hire orders was carried out using a manual white board and verbal communication between hire controllers and engineering technicians who were located in close proximity to one another.  At the MSC however, engineering staff are located up to half a mile from the hire desk centre which means a manual system is impracticable."

Consequently, it was important that an efficient method for the management and control of receiving and fleeting customer orders with effective communication between office and engineering functions was developed for use by the current and future MSC operations.

As the "white board" principles have stood the test of time for Speedy, Tracey built an "electronic white board" with a colour based "fleeting status" solution in MS Excel/Access.  After successful trials in Speedy's Power business, the project team felt it could not be rolled out to other Speedy operations until inhibiting factors like lack of spreadsheet skills and a memory hungry database which made system response sluggish, had been overcome.

Formability's web technology gives the white board scalability
Subsequently, Tracey approached Speedy IT Manager Neal Summers to help her deliver a more practicable solution. Neal commented, "The electronic white board is a great tool, but at that stage of its development, it was crying out for a faster, more user friendly solution! That's when I asked Formability to get involved to help us put in place a web based process."

In January 2010, Formability became members of the project team. Paul Beck, Managing Director of Formability reflected, "Speedy's prototype solution took several minutes for its status to update on its databases and they weren't in a position to roll it out across their other businesses. It's important to deliver something that works properly. That's why we approached this project as we always do using our simple but effective 'ABC: Agree, Build and Commit methodology'."

Formability reviewed Speedy's white board system requirements and streamlined them somewhat to remove unnecessary functionality. Then the system was set up to replicate the traditional white board fleeting process where hire controllers manage enquiries and workshop technicians who fulfil the fleeting requirements, could both view the familiar 'White Board' format on a wide screen display monitor.

Formability's knowledge of the hire business enabled them to compress the project's development within just 4 weeks. During this time, they fine tuned the specification, wrote the software, built the server and databases, commissioned the system and delivered practical skills training to Speedy staff.

Paul Beck continued, "We were pleased to leverage our experience in hire to provide Speedy with a workable and scalable solution which was right first time. We overcame the need for Speedy staff to cross refer between systems and even came up with a clever application of technology which allows them to use a single sign-in solution to access to 2 different systems."

Speedy MSC personnel now find the new "white board" process easy to use with its simple drop down box data entry and 7 day activity snapshot. Information from the white board system is used as an input into Speedy's Axapta contract order processing system and has been rolled out across all 7 businesses in the MSC.

Tracey Dean again, "I'm very pleased that Formability have enabled us to deliver what is a mission critical process for Speedy which will facilitate the roll out of the MSC concept across other parts of the UK. We have a substantially improved process with better productivity, customer service and additional efficiencies eg improved utilisation of transport."

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