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History of the Pennrose SDS

The Pennrose Service Company SDS was developed in 1992 by Pennrose principals Jeffrey Allegretti and Russell Semen for the City of Philadelphia's Basic Systems Repair Program (BSRP), a perennially oversubscribed emergency home repair program serving the City's low income homeowners.

In response to this overwhelming demand for the program's service, Allegretti and Semen created a computer-driven service delivery system that automated the program's customer access and its historically cumbersome eligibility determination protocol. Repair orders were now taken over the phone and dispatched electronically to waiting contractors who were capable of responding the same day.

The result was that the number of households serviced by the Basic System Repair Program increased from 1,200 in 1991 to more than 6,700 in 1992, while customer wait times went from several months to several days - and the program never closed its doors again.

Today's Pennrose SDS is a much-enhanced version of the prototype service delivery system built for the City's home repair programs.


Pennrose SDS

The Pennrose SDS is a proven approach to dispatching and managing maintenance and repairs services. At its heart is a workhorse database that assimilates information entered by customer service staff and then initiates the appropriate response. The system is capable of virtually unlimited multiple users processing and dispatching repair orders. It allows for remote location work dispatch and tracks the number, type, cost, and progress time duration of maintenance work orders. It also records material inventory used, purchased and on-hand at each work site.

The SDS database is accessed through the SDS Virtual Private Network or VPN by way of the Internet using only a PC web browser. In this way managers and line staff alike can track daily work orders, repair histories, and maintenance spending patterns for geographically distant sites from wherever there is phone line and modem. In the same way, customer service staff can produce hard copy repair orders on local or remote system printers and/or generated fax orders to remote sites such as service vendors, maintenance shops, and field offices that are not connected to the VPN.

The Pennrose SDS is a fully customizable product that is applicable in a varied range of service environments from property management companies to public utilities; for contracted work or in-house maintenance operations. The Pennrose SDS is not a software package, it is an approach to service delivery borne out of decades of real world problem solving experience. Software developers develop software. Pennrose develops solutions!


The SDS Database Construction

Each SDS database is custom built to meet the specific needs of each SDS client. The database schema and programming logic that drives the Pennrose SDS was originally developed on an IBM AS400 platform. Pennrose continues to make use this long lived and highly stable IBM format for the basis of all of its SDS applications, customized to use a web-based graphical front end to facilitate assimilation by PC users. The SDS can also be developed in Oracle® and Visual Basic® for Windows NT® environments.

Each new SDS database is constructed in steps. This initial database schema and HTML screens are developed that reflect our "best guess" at the work flow, programming, and database structure necessary to support the project. Next, a series of walk-through training sessions of the initial database are performed with the SDS client to solicit comments on needed modifications. From these sessions, a final database is developed along with a "play-script" to identify the flow path for system data and to specify the individual staff responsible for each of the actions described.


Customer Service

An overarching aim of Pennrose SDS is to serve each customer at his or her first point of contact with the Customer Service staff. To this end, the Pennrose SDS integrates the function of customer intake and work order dispatch so that repair requests can be processed and work orders dispatched simultaneously - while the customer is on the phone.

For each new service request, the SDS database establishes a customer case file including a unique customer ID that is keyed to all subsequent activity and reprinted on all documents related to that customer's case. The SDS database then assigns the maintenance staff or contractor and dispatches a repair order based on the data entered. At the same time, the Customer Service staff explains the repair process, informs the customer of who has been assigned to perform the needed repairs, when he or she should expect the service to be delivered, and answers any questions that the customer may have.


The Blanket Contractor Dispatch

For contracted repairs, a Blanket Contract is used, akin to an open purchase order, to define the limits of the work scope and work item costs. Where multiple contractors are used, the system tracks each contractor's productivity, response time and budget history, and compares those data with a programmed weighted capacity for each to determine which contractor is eligible to receive the next repair order. Using this customized selection algorithm, the SDS system automatically assigns the work to the next eligible contractor.

To guide the customer service agent to select the appropriate work scope and contractor trade, the SDS computer screen can be designed to contain a menu of repair items, each matched with a specific contractor trade (e.g. "sewage in basement" goes to a plumber, "sparking outlet" goes to an electrician). In this way, the customer service agent is able to receive, screen, and process customer repair request about potentially complex problems without necessarily having an expert technical understanding of those systems. At the termination of the call all administrative functions are resolved and the service agent is free to take the next call.

As an optional part of the Pennrose SDS services, Pennrose can develop a customized bid package that will allows the SDS client to procure the blanket contractors who will respond to the repair orders issued by the SDS database.

The contractor selection criteria used in the blanket contractor bid package seek to establish each contractor's capacity to perform high quality repairs in a responsive manner suited to the task. Pennrose works with each SDS client to fine-tune the selection criteria to conform to its unique parameters for the number and size of repair contracts that is appropriate for its service activity. The bid specification also contains a menu of the repair items which are intended to be provided, along with a pre-determined fixed cost for each of specific services items provided.


Quality Control

Pennrose provides quality control inspection services for contracted and in-house completed work. The services described below may either be performed by Pennrose alone, or by the SDS client under the technical oversight of Pennrose field inspectors.

The Pennrose SDS system requires that completed work be inspected to determine that the repair conforms to the work order scope, all applicable codes and the contract specifications.

For contracted work, additional work items that need to be completed which are not a part of the original work order are authorized by with a written Change Order. Work items that are not satisfactorily completed are documented on an inspection punch list. Where feasible, the punch list is issued on the spot and corrected immediately.

Upon satisfactory completion of the repair work, the contractor and inspector sign a certification indicating that all of the work items represented on the Work Order have been completed per the contract specifications and all applicable codes.

The inspector also obtains the customer's certification that he/she is satisfied with the work as defined on the work order. Once a completed case is entered into the database, the SDS system will automatically produce a customer feedback questionnaire with a preprinted address and the pertinent data regarding the service the she or he received.


The Human Resource

Pennrose SDS is a proven efficiency enhancement program, but its degree of success is always determined by the level of ownership felt by the key staff who will work with the program in the long term. As an integral part of its SDS program, Pennrose provides training to the SDS client staff and contractors to insure that each will be ready to independently manage his or her part in the SDS process.


Pennrose offers assistance in following key areas:

Information Systems Staff Support: Pennrose provides all system troubleshooting and maintenance service as and integral part of its SDS program. Additional technical support is provided to each clients end users and I/S staff to enable each to gain full access to the system data and to produce meaningful management reports.

Staff Training: Pennrose prepares a customized SDS on-line procedures manual for each SDS application to provide a permanent training resource for the staff who will manage the program after its inception. Pennrose also provides training of SDS staff both in a meeting room setting and in the field. Office staff are trained in the customer service and reporting functions of the systems, and field inspectors are trained in the applicable codes, job site safety issues, standard trade practices, and sound field administrative procedures.