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Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – Qube Planet FM software

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is the largest provider of mental health and substance misuse services in Derbyshire, primarily serving the people of Derbyshire and Derby City. They have more than 2,300 staff who provide a range of services to over 90 sites throughout the county.

The Estates Department maintains around 50 properties in the south of the county, ranging from inpatient wards, day hospitals, rehabilitation / recovery accommodation and office environments.

Introducing Qube Planet

Ian Johnson, CAFM & Contracts Manager, joined the Trust in December 2008 and was given responsibility for the Planet software system which the Trust had recently acquired. The Trust’s previous software system was out-of-date and limited in what it did. The Trust had heard good reports about Planet, so decided to go ahead.

Ian spent the first few months of his new job inputting data, including details of all sites for the Structures module as well as information on 2,000 potential suppliers. Ian was immediately impressed with how easy Planet was to pick up and how well the modules all worked together.

Ian likes the fact that there can be a lot happening in the background but users only see what’s relevant to them. For example, if the HelpDesk receives a call to say a WC has been damaged, that might lead to work orders for a plumber and a plasterer. The work will be ordered, carried out, reported as completed, and then paid for, with all records being updated as each step is taken. But the original caller only sees – and only needs to see – confirmation that the job is being activated, followed by updates on progress.

Easy to Use

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust went live with Planet, on schedule, in April 2009. It was a totally seamless transition. The old system issued its last order number then Planet simply started up using the next sequential number. The Trust’s Financial Department and its suppliers did not even notice that the change had taken place.

Users have been surprised by how easy it is to input data and search for information. With all the screens ‘looking and feeling’ the same, the Planet system soon becomes very familiar. Ian also appreciates the different ways there are to view a search, so it can be set up to suit individual users. The Report Writing software is an added bonus.

“The thinking behind Planet is common sense. It really is a case of ‘what you see is what you get’. ”

Ian Johnson, CAFM & Contracts Manager, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


Since Planet went live Ian’s focus has been on planned maintenance. An important development has been the introduction of mobiles with Planet’s four dedicated ‘apps’. This began on a trial basis, with just two people using them at first, and was an instant success.

Mobiles support staff as they go about their work. For example, the Work Logging App means that the HelpDesk can send a worker directly to a job; previously they would have had to go to a supervisor for written work orders, and return these at the end of the job. This can now all be done via mobiles, saving huge amounts of time.

The time and costs associated with travelling to a job, the time spent on the job, any stock issued, and other information is easily recorded via mobiles. Ian points out that you still have to manage your staff, but using mobiles makes the whole process much more efficient.

All the trade staff who work on reactive jobs now have mobiles: a total of 15. The only staff who do not use them are painters who work on long term projects, and gardeners, as their work is planned rather than reactive.

To date the mobiles have used Windows technology, but multiple platforms are being introduced. Ian is looking forward to being able to switch to iPhones sometime next year.

Web Portal

Another priority has been getting people to use the web portal to report any maintenance tasks that need doing. The web portal allows remote access to Planet from the different Trust sites. A separate user account is set up for each building and the log-in details are advertised to staff so they can report any maintenance issues. As the system automatically knows which building is being referred to when someone logs in, this saves having to re-enter addresses and other information. That in turn saves a lot of time.

The process is intuitive so very little training has been needed. Ian directs his efforts in letting staff know that the system exists and encouraging them to use it. Once people have used the system they do tend to adopt it as their preferred means of reporting. They have found the web portal a quick and reliable way of reporting issues and being kept informed of progress.

With around 700 reactive jobs a month to manage, Ian is keen to maximise efficiency. Tools like the web portal can make a big difference. At the moment one third of all maintenance issues are reported this way; Ian’s target is to push that up to one half, a target in recent months he is now achieving. In new properties the web portal is the only option offered.

“Planet’s mobile application helps Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust work more efficiently. It helps to create a paperless environment which improves productivity, data accuracy and reduces administration costs. ” Gavin Maze Planet Account Manager

“Once people have used the Intranet to log a call, they don’t look back. ”

Ian Johnson, CAFM & Contracts Manager, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation

Qube Support

A key factor in the successful implementation and development of Planet by the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been the support it has received from Qube – including project managers, trainers and the Qube Help Desk.

Ian found that paying for onsite training in advance worked well: ‘Knowing that a couple of days have been set aside and can be called in when required really encourages you to get the training you need.’

Ian also enjoys the contact and support available from the Roadshows. He attended the 2012 Birmingham Roadshow and appreciated being able to meet key people from Qube, and having the chance to offer feedback and voice any concerns in an informal environment. He hopes to make it to the Annual Conference in the future.

The Planet Suggestions website is another way of being able to interact and get technical support and contribute ideas. Ian has made suggestions on the site and has also learned useful tips from other users. He says, ‘It’s good to know that you aren’t alone out there and it’s also encouraging that the suggestions we users make do get taken up.’ He also appreciates the way software updates are regularly sent out so that Planet’s performance is constantly improving.

“Another big plus point of Planet is the training and support provided by Qube and the continuity of staff contact. It really helps. ”

Ian Johnson, CAFM & Contracts Manager, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

“The Planet system is constantly evolving to meet our clients’ existing and future needs. The Birmingham road show is an example of a variety of client events hosted during the calendar year and allows us to collaborate with our client base which helps to steer our future developments. ” Gavin Maze Planet Account Manager

Looking Ahead

Ian is very pleased with the progress made since Planet went live. The use of mobile apps, the web portal and the Help Desk functions have made a real difference. People find the system easy to use and are willing to learn. He recognises that there are many more modules yet to master – all in good time.

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