Firstly, I have only used the term SOR codes because this is how most people in the Housing Repairs sector think about this issue – I really just mean having codes that describe what work you did.
Secondly, I acknowledge that there has been more than enough debate on this subject, so will keep this brief. I am only writing this because we still encounter confusion around the area.
So, very quickly, here are the things people think they use SOR codes for;
- Specifying required work so a contractor can’t do more than you asked for
- Diagnosing a repair so it can be scheduled to the right person
- Diagnosing a repair so you book an appointment for the right amount of time
- Diagnosing a repair so you can arrange materials
- Defining the work for the operative
- Getting a record of the actual work carried out
- Charging for work undertaken
Specifying work based on detailed site surveys is definitely a practical and feasible thing to do, if you agreed average rates for broad categories of work, that could also work, but using 2,000 codes to guess what might be needed is just a way of asking the contractor to manipulate extra cash out of every job.
Every visit is either the first time anyone has been to the property or a follow-on of some kind (this is incontrovertible).
If no-one has been and it is a repair, you have no idea how long the work will take – the average 45 minute plumbing repair isn’t a real thing, most repairs are very quick, 15 minutes or so, then some take hours, but you don’t know which are which in advance. This area is covered in the blog post on scheduling so I won’t repeat, but if it is a first call logistically your choice is limited to whether you send a plumber or carpenter so any diagnosis beyond that has got nothing to do with scheduling.
I don’t think anyone thinks the operative works out what to do from the SOR code – some people definitely think the operative might plan ahead for materials though. I believe the issue with the materials argument is that you are saying the operatives should divert off to get materials from stores for a repair no-one has been to and probably won’t be needed (repair service – not replace service). Although there will undoubtedly be occasions where this does indeed prove to have been needed, in housing repairs with a well stocked and profiled van, this will be a minority not a majority, so you build a lot of wasted journeys into the process. Put more energy in continually evolving the van stock profile and go out on the assumption you can repair everything.
So – to the thing we believe codes are critical for – getting a record of the actual work carried out.
This is going to come from the operative on site and be captured on their mobile device. You therefore need a set of codes that 10 plumbers could use to code up the same job in under a minute, on a phone screen and all use exactly the same code(s). Too many codes and you get rubbish back. If you give them the option to complete the code sent on the job, that is the code you will get back virtually all the time.
Only by getting your operatives to consciously select the right codes on every job from a sensible list will you get high quality information. This information is critical for job costing and spend analysis. In terms of job costing, an accurately coded job can be checked by the software system to see if the actual costs look correct so you can start to see the wood from the trees, clearly it is invaluable to analyse your repair patterns to look for ways to reduce them through targeted work programmes.