One year of FireServiceRota

About a year ago FireServiceRota was a new dot on the UK radar of rostering and availability systems. The Fire and Rescue Services in Jersey and Shropshire were among the early adopters.

“When Shropshire changed as an organisation they needed something more flexible, especially for flexible crewing.” We published an article reporting on the initial results obtained at Shropshire Fire and Rescue service, supporting their flexible wholetime crewing model. They allowed Shropshire to achieve significant cost savings. Most importantly, no jobs were lost and all freed up capacity was reallocated to the improvement of service delivery to the communities and businesses of Shropshire. For more details read the full story...“With the agile way you are buying a product that is off the shelf but it’s a not-finished product. It’s adaptable to the organization.”

One year on and a lot has changed. More fire and rescue services have adopted FSR, lessons were learned and further changes to the software was made. We interviewed a number of the Shropshire and FireServiceRota team members.  

This is what they shared.

You won’t always get what you ask for…

… but you will get what you need. It is a common observation made by many customers having been exposed to the “Why? Why? Why?” questions we keep asking. FireServiceRota runs one version of its software to support all customers across the globe. Before we implement what the customer is asking for, we find out why. Next, we deliver a solution that fits in a flexible and efficient resource management system. We believe that this agile process keeps our software easy to maintain and, more importantly, facilitates the sharing of best practices and innovations between services. “Shropshire is impressed with level of professionalism and attention to customer service”

During and after the implementation FireServiceRota stayed in close contact to follow up on new requests and feedback. For example, recent feedback challenges our feature to relay the incident details as a push notification to on-call crew.  This acts as a backup alert channel and adds resilience to the process by allowing firefighters to confirm (or reject) their real-time attendance. It also enables less desirable behaviour regarding the ‘cherry-picking’ of alerts. It comes down to trusting and/or allowing firefighters to make a last-minute informed decision to attend or not, having all the details of the on-call crew and their real-time attendance status available on the smartphone.

Firefighters fight fires, not software

And nobody likes reading manuals. Software just needs to work, without having to install stuff, read manuals and go through lengthy education programmes. We want firefighters to spend their time serving the public and saving lives not trying to save  changes to their availability. “One of the easiest implementations of software that I’ve experienced in my career. The adoption rate has been really high because the software is so intuitive, all the staff were able to use it”

Firefighters like to get paid

Shropshire F&RS is facing a restructuring of their finance department. The new team responsible for payroll wasn’t looking forward to processing thousands of paper claim forms for the retained firefighters each month. “Shropshire has a pressing requirement to digitize on-call payments. FSR offers a solution to that.”

Coincidentally (or not?) this request came shortly after having extended our software with a flexible payroll rules engine. This engine was delivered for another customer and was made adaptable to other customers’ needs from the start. The Shropshire business rules could be configured in a matter of days.

One year ago Shropshire had been using FireServiceRota to flexibly manage the rotas of their 3 wholetime stations and Fire Control. Now, FireServiceRota is rolling out to their 22 on-call stations in just two months. The settings we apply are bespoke for each station, adapting to customer needs. Training super-users, offering in and out-of-office hours support, WhatsApp chat, calls… we utilised all channels to  ground the knowledge in the organisation.

A quick introduction, a video and a couple of weeks of ‘trial usage’ is all it took in most stations to get started. “it is a very positive experience, user adoption is very high and it’s so intuitive, people are moving over to it and start to use it quicker than Shropshire had anticipated”

Future expectations: mobilising the nearest officer

Having all firefighters in one integrated system allows them a lot more flexibility to migrate between wholetime staff and retained staff. This increases operational availability.“goal is to maintain that operational cover but without the need to increase the number of staff. It’s very much about being as efficient as we possible can.”Shropshire is looking to support the officers in FireServiceRota too. The service is particularly keen on mobilising the nearest officer based on their skill set. FireServiceRota would be perfect for enabling this as it already has key ingredients such as GPS tracking, geofencing and alerting.

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