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CCR Property Services has transformed its business overnight with a switch to paperless mobile and COVID-19 home working using a cloud-based office and mobile workforce system from BigChange.

The Essex-based company provides essential property maintenance services such as emergency drainage and plumbing repairs for sectors that include social housing, hospitals and care homes.

Established in 2011 CCR has achieved preferred supplier status amongst key blue-chip property and facilities management companies and is also an approved contractor to local authorities, housing associations and health authorities. Specialising in drainage network repairs and cleaning, CCR operate a fleet of specialist vehicles and plant on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

CCR has equipped its mobile workforce with rugged tablets running JobWatch, the 5 in 1 mobile app from BigChange. The app synchronises in real time CCR’s office system that is normally accessed at the CCR head office in Basildon, Essex. The BigChange back office software which includes CRM, job scheduling and invoicing is cloud based which means that virtually the entire business is currently being run with staff and management working from home.

Reiss Monksfield, Director, CCR Property Services comments:

“Well before the Coronavirus crisis we had realised the potential of BigChange for flexible home working,”

“After our vitally-important accounts person finished maternity leave and wanted to spend more time at home we were able to accommodate flexible-hour, part-time home working. With the all the required software and data accessible online the accounting work has continued pretty much seamlessly with one less person in the office,”

“Now with the threat from COVID-19 we have sent virtually all the office staff home and it really is business as usual. Those living in the properties we service are often vulnerable so our emergency services are essential and with BigChange we can all be in control and run services remotely. I’ve no idea how we would have managed without a single cloud and mobile solution; BigChange really is paying dividends in this crisis,”

CCR was an early adopter of BigChange having realised that a single system that could perform both office and field service functions seamlessly was the way forward. The company had previously tried to deploy other systems but they failed to provide the scope, flexibility and modern technology considered to be crucial for supporting future business competitiveness and growth.

BigChange first went live in Spring 2018 and provide an all-in-one solution having replaced a number of different systems. As well as the tablets used by operatives, the fleet is fitted with BigChange trackers providing a real time view of the operation, allowing CCR to respond as efficiently and quickly as possible to call outs around the clock.

Monksfield continued:

“In just two years we’ve almost doubled our turnover and BigChange has allowed us to grow without increasing our administrative resources. In fact we have even more time now; no more scanning of paper reports, no more calling operatives to see where they are and no more sifting through piles of paperwork. We are working so much more efficiently and the business has been streamlined,”

Monksfield added:

“We particularly like the way the system is designed. It’s generic but easy to customise. However, the biggest thing about BigChange is what you get for the money. The benefits far outweigh the cost; it is great value and with their RoadCrew support team you also get brilliant 24/7support,”

In providing round the clock service, companies like CCR would traditionally sign up the services of a 24 hours call centre to manage out of hours calls. By deploying BigChange this need was negated as CCR could simply direct calls to their team of out of hours call handlers. This not only saves cost and complication but by cutting out a link in the chain it also enables a quicker response.

Monksfield explained:

“The system is also very good for customer service and clients can be kept informed of where we are and they can get job updates in two to three minutes. We are more efficient and more productive so as a company we can also provide better value which customers like”.

BigChange CCR employee

Our BigChange Network can help businesses work together.

In these unprecedented times, here at BigChange we are looking at ways that we can support our customers and ultimately their customers, to ensure that the often critical services our customers provide can continue to be delivered.

To really drive back Covid-19, the national effort, as we’ve heard from government many times recently, will need to be determined, committed and flexible with everyone playing their part – there is no doubt at this difficult time we will be Stronger Together!

Our BigChange Network allows businesses to work together, to share and support the completion of critical works anywhere at any time all seamlessly and visible to those managing it in real time. The options to provide specific Risk Assessments and Job Instructions to remote workers completing the works, supports the safety and welfare of those and there is no need for any physical contact, supporting social distancing, with the end customer as all notifications, alerts, job cards and reports for works completed can be issued electronically.

There is no charge to our customers to use this service.

If you would like to use this service to support your business and simply enable working with others so you can continue to deliver key services, please click here. (Note: You will need to login first).

Please see details of our customers below that are able to still provide critical services.

Businesses across the globe are battling against the uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Whether your sales have slowed, supply chains disrupted, or you are overloaded with orders, we are all in uncharted territory.

The reality for most of us is that we have to find ways to keep trading while minimising contact with other people. We also have to monitor the health – both physical and mental – of our employees, customers and partners at this difficult time.

The good news is that BigChange’s platform can help your business to get through this outbreak – and even thrive. Our software was built to offer true resilience and future-proofing to businesses of all sizes.

How BigChange can help you today

BigChange’s software allows all your team members to work remotely, meeting the new self-isolation guidelines, and ensuring that tasks are easily and clearly allocated.

When work is completed, jobs are updated with all the required paperwork, images, and sign off from senior personnel. Our remote activity audits also offer peace of mind.

BigChange allows its customers to ensure employees are working safely through home office risk assessments, which determine whether desk setups are likely to cause RSI or back problems. It can even ensure that WiFi is securely set up to minimise the threat of cyber crime.

It will also communicate up-to-date official COVID-19 guidance as the situation evolves.

For some companies, face-to-face interaction is still vital. BigChange offers a triage risk assessment facility to determine which tasks must still be carried out in-person, and how to allocate resources safely.

Each job that is loaded onto the BigChange platform will have a dedicated risk assessment, ensuring the welfare of your teams and customers is paramount.

These assessments will:

  • Determine the health status of employees
  • Check that people that your staff are meeting have no COVID-19 symptoms and have not been exposed to the virus
  • Ensure a safe working environment
  • Remind employees of safe travel guidance during this time
  • Remind employees of the need to maintain a distance of at least two metres from others
  • Ensure that employees take hand-washing breaks and have access to those facilities without putting themselves at additional risk

I founded BigChange so that I could help business owners like you become more efficient and competitive, while empowering remote working and paperless processes. This is exactly what all companies need right now.

Get in touch if you have any questions about how BigChange can help your business. Stay safe out there.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented disruption to the way we work and live.

When events like these take place, it is tempting to batten down the hatches, shut up shop, and hope that the storm passes quickly.

I believe that is the wrong approach. I think this is the time to be bold, smart, and think of innovative solutions to the problems our businesses face. If, like me, you employ a lot of people, there is no excuse for doing nothing and waiting for redundancies to become unavoidable.

We need to work out how to help our customers through this difficult time. We must also figure out how to win new business, despite the constraints. We need to find novel ways to motivate our teams. And we must be considerate of customers and suppliers who are struggling.

I know it’s not easy. At BigChange, everyone will be working from home for the foreseeable future. That means we essentially have 160 separate offices in operation in 4 countries.

That is why I have introduced a daily catch-up call for each department, starting with a sales call at 9am. On each call, the first priority is mental health. We check in on everyone in the team to make sure they are coping. We make sure we talk about the successes of yesterday and praise hard work and ingenuity.

This daily contact and support is going to become even more crucial once the schools close today. Every working parent will need flexibility and understanding from employers.

We have also introduced a buy now, pay later scheme for both new and existing customers that buy more licences. We are allowing them to run BigChange for six months before we start charging. We hope that will help to alleviate some financial pressure in the short-term.

For customers who are concerned about the safety of employees at this time, and wish to track their engineers and workers out on the road, BigChange can track vehicles through its app – we don’t even need to come and fit a tracker. This may be useful if the rumoured lockdowns do take place.

Our priority is to help customers to keep trading. This is why we have updated our software with up-to-date COVID-19 guidance and risk assessments. This is essential for mobile workers.

Cashflow is going to be extremely important over the next few months, so I advise every business owner to keep a close eye on it. If you haven’t already, it’s time to make reductions from the ‘nice to have’s and focus on the business-critical expenses, such as paying suppliers.

I am not immune to the climate of fear out there but I refuse to panic, or let it destroy my business. Let’s get through this together.

A Message to BigChange Customers.

Martin Port, Founder and CEO of BigChange:

I wanted to tell you personally, that I’m thinking of you, thinking about the challenges you’re facing at the moment. But what I want you to know, is that BigChange are here for you.

Roadcrew is available 365, we want to spend time supporting you, to help you, and enable you to carry on with your work where possible.

Even though our offices are closed, we are here for you. We have an army of people manning the phones from their bedrooms, from their living rooms, from their home offices. They’re all there for you. And we’re going to make sure that you know that we’re only a call away.

Please keep in touch, anything you need, we are here for you.

Thank you.

Watch the Video:

BigChange have recently launched two amazing new Microsoft add-ins for Outlook and Word.

BigChange is now seamlessly intergrated into the Microsoft ecosystem, enabling customers to easily attach email information into CRM notes directly from Microsoft Outlook, or create professional-looking templates in Microsoft Word and simply upload them into the BigChange system.

MICROSOFT OUTLOOK ADD-IN

The BigChange Add-in for Microsoft Outlook is available NOW! Have you downloaded it yet?

This amazing new feature allows BigChange customers to seamlessly attach selected emails and attachments to their CRM Notes – existing or new – without having to leave Outlook.

This ensures important information can be quickly and easily stored centrally against Notes, a must for seamless remote working.

Find out all you need to know about this game-changing new add-in here.

Watch the Outlook Video:

MICROSOFT WORD ADD-IN

The BigChange Microsoft Word Add-in for creating templates is now available for you to download! BigChange customers can now easily create professional-looking templates themselves in Microsoft Word.

Customers can design their own financial documents, Health & Safety Forms, Certificates or standard job cards in Word and use the new add-in to insert the required keywords. The finished document can then be uploaded to BigChange and saved as a template ready to be used in the usual ways.

Where keywords have been inserted, BigChange will automatically populate the datafields upon document creation. It’s as easy as that! You can find out full details of this amazing new functionality here.

Watch the Word Video:

One of the benefits of being 57 is that I have lived through many crises.

I remember the Black Monday crash of ’87, which wiped trillions off the share prices of some of the world’s biggest companies. Back then, I was working in a bakery business in New York. We received a check from Bloomingdale’s – the iconic department store – and it bounced. It was for about $300. We framed it to remind ourselves that no one is too big to fail.

I remember the horrific outbreak of mad cow disease in the late eighties, when more than 4m cows were culled to try and contain the infection. Britain’s roads ground to a halt as they tried to stop it spreading from county to county. There have been other health scares since then, from swine flu to bird flu.

Then there was the dotcom crash of 2000. I was in a telematics business that was part owned by GE. The value of the company nosedived almost overnight. In 2008, the financial crisis sent many businesses to the wall. I was running Masternaut, my last venture, which I later sold to French airport group Airport De Paris. I owed the bank £6m at the time, and it called in part of the debt. I managed to reduce headcount and keep the business afloat, driving the business forward against the odds. It was a terrible time. People were losing their livelihoods, their homes, and their self-belief. There were many suicides.

Today, we are faced with another challenge: the outbreak of coronavirus. The spread of the disease is worrying, as is its impact on the elderly and those with respiratory problems. Like all the challenges that have come before, we must work together to get through this.

As business people, we must be in charge of our own destiny. We need to make contingency plans. We need to motivate our teams through this crisis. We need to sell remotely, work from home, and virtualise our operations.

At BigChange, we are fortunate to be in a strong position. We have no borrowings, and have a good cash reserves that can see us through the coming months, whatever happens to the economy. Even if the government closes schools and shops, there will still be a need for basic services, from plumbing to the maintenance of our roads. We will continue to be the platform of choice for these businesses. Engineers can avoid the office and deliver these crucial services through BigChange.

For those businesses in hard-hit sectors such as travel, entertainment and retail, the time has come to dig deep, innovate, and figure out a survival strategy. Some may introduce employee ownership if they cannot pay wages, others may trade shares for valuable supplies, or agree more flexible terms with customers that will now struggle to pay.

This is the time to work together, be kind, and give back to our partners, customers and colleagues. Coronavirus is likely to hit this country hard. We are getting involved in local initiatives to help the elderly and, through my work as a Northern board member of Business in the Community, I’m helping other companies to mobilise in partnership with welfare organisations. Instead of battening down the hatches, we need to open our hearts, and think of others.

Cyclehoop, the innovator of secure on-street cycle parking solutions, has introduced the latest mobile technology as part of a cloud-based mobile resources management system from BigChange.

(more…)

Ten years ago I began seeing stories about the ‘death of the office’. Teams will all work remotely from their smartphones by 2020, headlines said, and entrepreneurs will be able to start and run businesses from a boat in the Bahamas.

Of course, here we are in, in 2020, and the majority of businesses still operate an office, even if they have some people who work flexibly or remotely.

At BigChange, most of our people still work out of our office. When I speak to managers here, many of them still like having a fixed location where colleagues can come together. “It’s easier to spot problems before they become an issue when you’re around your colleagues every day,” explains my customer services director. “And an office is very useful when training new people, as they can shadow their more experienced colleagues and be easily monitored and mentored.”

So the office isn’t dead after all. However, there is a pressing need for all companies to be able to operate virtually.

I posted last week about the potential impact of coronavirus on UK companies. If this becomes the epidemic that we all fear, employees will have to work from home in order to “self quarantine”. There are other threats facing companies that do not embrace virtual working. What if your landlord suddenly closes your office building? What if there is a flood or a major leak and the office is compromised? Could you carry on as normal? With no disruption to customers or your service quality?

I learned a lot about potential business threats when BigChange went through the ISO9001 process. We had to make business continuity a priority, no matter what random threat or ‘act of god’ strikes the company. It was this process that helped us take the leap into becoming a truly virtually enabled business.

We are luckier than most because we are a technology company. All of our processes and services are virtual by definition. We use our own BigChange software to log and monitor jobs. All the calls that come through to us are handled by a voice-over-IP (VOIP) provider, so they are filtered through to the right person, who gets a pop-up on BigChange with the name of the caller.

However, it’s easy to appear virtual on paper but it’s another thing for a virtual office to work in practice. That is why BigChange runs a remote working test every three months. This ensures that colleagues are always prepared to work virtually, and exposes any weaknesses in our virtual structure.

For other business owners who want to try the test, here’s how it works:

You tell your team about the test the night before, when they are already home. This ensures they always have the correct work equipment with them. For us that’s a laptop, charger, and headset. They also have to check they have access to good wifi.

Before starting work, they fill out a risk assessment on BigChange, to confirm their home environment is fit for work.

They do their day’s work, and everything is handled just as it would be at the office, except that meetings take place virtually on Teams, and people need to be a bit more diligent about tagging the right colleagues on BigChange tickets (as they can’t just shout over their shoulder)

At the end of the day, there is another workflow, which asks how the process went, whether people felt hindered in their work, whether anything was more difficult as a result of working remotely.

We measure productivity after each test and, so far, it is at the exact same level at home and at the office. My colleagues report that they really enjoy working remotely, and have no issues using the technology, which is also really important.

We ran our last test on Friday, when every single member of the BigChange team worked from home. There were no issues, and everything passed off smoothly.

I am also working on solutions to some of the concerns raised by my managers. We need a virtual training programme, for example. And it may be necessary to have more regular check-in meetings on these “virtual days” to ensure that leaders feel connected to their teams.

We have proved that it’s entirely possible to take a traditional office-based business and run it with an entirely remote workforce.

Whether it’s the right move long-term will vary from business to business, but when it comes to business continuity, building virtual capability into your model is a no brainer.

Bonjour, mes amies. I’m writing this blog from Paris. We now have 16 people based out here, and – despite Brexit – we are proving a hit with the French. Just this week BigChange won a six-figure contract – our largest deal in France so far.

However, this isn’t the best time to be travelling. When I was last in Paris, the general mood was positive. Now, nobody kisses on both cheeks any more. No one will even shake your hand. Everyone is wearing masks and the TV is full of news of coronavirus.

The climate of fear here is understandable. Neighbouring Italy has seen its death toll from the virus top 20 people. Schools in the north of the country are being closed as a precaution, and some towns are under full quarantine. Back in the UK, we’ve been insulated from the coronavirus fall-out – it doesn’t feel like an emergency. Our chief medical officers have only just raised the threat to the public from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’.

Being over here has given me a different perspective. It’s time for Britain’s employers to start planning for the impact of coronavirus, if you haven’t already. What will you do if people start falling ill? How will the business cope if goods from China are unavailable? Is your company policy fit to cope with this kind of emergency? What insurance do you have in place?

At BigChange, we are fortunate to be a software company. This means that everyone in the company can do their job from home if needs be. After my PA, Madeleine, returned from a trip to Cambodia and Australia, she worked remotely for two weeks, to make sure she hadn’t contracted the virus.

We may be a software company but we depend on hardware, which is made in – you guessed it – China. One of our suppliers has been badly hit by the coronavirus, and its factories have been closed and now reopened, luckily we have been stockpiling. We are also doing further contingency planning. After all, no matter where your supplier is based, the likelihood is that somewhere down the line, parts are being sourced from China.

We have also had to be careful about booking any international events. We were looking at taking a team out to Monaco with Nick Hamilton, the racing driver and BigChange ambassador, for the Grand Prix. That idea is on hold because we have no idea whether the event will go ahead, or if flights will be running at that time.

Perhaps the biggest risk we face is recession. We have already seen the coronavirus wipe millions off the share prices of some of the world’s biggest companies. It has hit global supply chains hard; China is the factory to the world. When it suffers, the profit warnings start rolling in. At BigChange, we are proceeding with caution. I am only making hires that are integral to the future of the business. I believe I can still execute on my growth plan for the year, but I’m looking to find efficiencies where I can through our technology using more automation.

We don’t know how badly coronavirus will hit the UK. Maybe we’ll be lucky, maybe not. But every employer needs to think how the business will cope if, like in Italy, schools are forced to close. How will that impact all the parents working at your company? Do you have any guidance for them? How many of your processes and tasks can you automate, in the event people fall ill?

Don’t let this virus catch your business unawares.

BigChange

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