Perfect Flow is a revolutionary new logistics consultancy created by Ian Gilson and Neil Alexander. Ian and Neil introduced the world’s first rapid response, parts delivery service to the responsive repairs market in 2009.

What Deming did for manufacturing, and what Seddon is doing for the service industry, is now happening in logistics.

You would think that delivering goods at the specific time that is most convenient for your customer would be more expensive for a logistics organisation, when compared to providing the same old “we’ll be there any time between 8am to 6pm window”?

Right? Wrong! Absolutely, completely, utterly wrong.

So if it’s that easy, why don’t organisations, such as repair companies, utility companies & mail delivery companies turn up when its most convenient to their customer?

Did we say easy? Well it is if you change the way they think, but for many organisations that’s a bridge too far. When organisations do things a certain way for a long period of time, even contemplating that there could be another way can be difficult. The good news is that we can show you how & help you achieve profound, counterintuitive outcomes that will give your organisation the most amazing competitive edge.

Some call it Lean, the Japanese refer to it as 改善 (Kaizen) which means “improvement”, or “change for the better”. This refers to the philosophy or practices that focus upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, game development, and business management.

However, changing processes without changing your thinking will eventually lead you back to square one. Vanguard Method of systems thinking addresses the flow of the work (for us specifically logistics), but will also help your own team to understand your own business better and enter a continuous improvement cycle.

Whatever your organisation, if you need to ensure items turn up at the right place and the right time EVERY TIME and want to provide a service to your customers that blows them away, then read on!

At a glance…

Who we are

  • Vast experience in social housing repairs sector
  • Owned and worked for SME contractors
  • Provided consultancy to social housing sector
  • Experienced practitioners of the Vanguard Method of systems thinking
  • Set up the world’s first rapid response delivery service to supply the responsive repairs sector

What we do

  • A 50% reduction in the amount of time stock spends in your system
  • Up to 75% reduction in Stock holding, but significant improvements in product availability
  • Significantly reduced manpower costs, unlocking the potential to be effective elsewhere
  • Significantly improved customer experience
  • Significantly improved Profitability

Your organisation could benefit if any of the following apply:

  • You have a mobile work force
  • You deliver a service or product directly to your customers
  • You carry stock


Ian Gilson


Ian is a highly respected Systems Thinker, with an extensive knowledge of the Vanguard Method. His work in Portsmouth led to his appearance as a guest speaker at John Seddon’s 2010 Leaders’ Summit.

Ian has the practical knowledge from his time as MD of a maintenance business, responsible for 250 staff and turnover of £20m. He has demonstrated the ability to manage change in organisations, bringing about stunning improvements by implementing the Vanguard Model to design services against the nominal value of the customer.

The repairs service in Portsmouth for example, was the first in the world to allow customers to freely pick a time for their repair, whilst successfully managing capacity to meet the resulting demand. By truly understanding the customer’s nominal value, Ian provided a service that delighted the customer whilst being more efficient and cheaper to run.

Contact Ian
07739 592195

Neil Alexander


Neil’s career started in grocery retail, with the best possible customer service training from Waitrose PLC. The retail bug took him to convenience stores, and the Cooperative Group where he became a Director.

Neil’s roles have been varied, but the focus has always been the customer. Understanding the customer and delivering what they needed meant they returned. If you could do this consistently, then success naturally followed.

The customer is also at the heart of Systems Thinking and applying these principles to logistics has been Neil's focus for the last 4 years, heading up a hugely successful materials logistics supply company, servicing Portsmouth City Council. Neil is now helping others to have the same profound results across the country with stunning success.

Contact Neil
07525 909445


Tracy Hughes


Tracy is a leading Practitioner in System Thinking, with a vast amount of knowledge and experience in delivering the Vanguard Method.

Trained by Vanguard, whilst working in the housing sector Tracy has built a reputation for working with senior leadership teams during their transformation to a System Thinking organisation.

Using her knowledge and experience gained as a practitioner Tracy has lead, developed and supported in-house transformation teams, audit teams and over 29 intervention teams. Including repairs, income, housing management and customer services.

Tracy’s approach is to create, design, implement and embed service and cultural change by using bespoke training, events and personal support programs, balancing methodology and application.

As a Perfect Flow director Tracy has been able to link her experience as an internal change expert into the support we provide to our public and private sector clients.

Contact Tracy
07841 015181

Graham Hartwell


Graham has over 8 years’ experience in System Thinking methodology and the Vanguard Method. With expertise in Social Housing, Multi Agency Safe Guarding Housing, Police and Utilities.

Graham has 20 years’ experience in the field of social welfare. Including Citizens Advice Bureau, Social Housing, Revenues & Benefits and Fostering.

Graham has a post graduated MBA gained at Gloucestershire University. His dissertation focused on online services within the public sector.

Typically, Graham will work alongside a senior management team, improvement team and an intervention team made up of staff and managers. Graham facilitates learning through study of the work to understand what is happening and why. His methods release management capacity and instil capability to redesign services, assisting in the redesign of operations, increasing staff morale and customer satisfaction.

Contact Graham
07475 917145



Vanguard helps organisations change from command and control to a systems approach to the design and management of work. Vanguard has a unique approach to consulting. The Vanguard Method transfers expertise to people (managers and staff) in the organisation. Vanguard uses sensei to apply the Method, people who are experts in both intervention theory (how you make a change) and systems theory (how to analyse and design work).
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Most Logistics systems are not designed to ask the right questions, let alone provide the right answers

What do we do?

  • Every repairs service that we have seen includes huge amounts of waste
  • We help organisations redesign their service to remove the waste
  • Specialise in logistics
  • Use ‘systems thinking’ techniques
  • Saves money, increases efficiency and improves the customer experience

“It is always exciting to see people take the Vanguard Method and extend it to new and profoundly useful innovations. Ian and Neil of Perfect Flow have done that with material flow. Any business with a materials/logistics core will gain enormous benefit from their help.”

Professor John Seddon
Vanguard Consulting

What a typical repairs system looks like:


Look at all those ‘backflows’. The system includes;

Value demand = the demand we want, what we are here for
Failure Demand = demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for the customer

From the customer’s perspective, the only steps that add value to their repair are;


What if you could turn off all of those wasteful steps and create Perfect Flow?

There are several steps to enable successful change in a business and continuous improvement is built around the cycle of ‘check, redesign and roll-in’.

Change must be based on knowledge


Our approach uses the Vanguard Method of systems thinking to teach your own staff how to identify problems and eliminate waste from your service. The emphasis is very much on increasing the capabilities of your organization, without any lingering dependency on us.

Before we can pinpoint exactly how we can help you, we need to gain a better understanding of your business. To achieve this, we carry out a short scoping exercise;

1. Scoping Exercise


To understand how an organisation works and identify any areas of waste in the current service


We would spend a day on site, following the end-to-end flow of work through your systems. This will include time spent in your offices and out on site wherever there is contact with the customer.

From what we learn, we will present our findings to you in a written report. It is up to you to decide whether to carry on the process into a full ‘check’ of your business.

2. Check


To lead a team of your staff through a detailed study of your organisation, teaching them to identify waste and the causes of waste in your current systems. Check is the first phase of transformational change, where we understand the whys and wherefores of current performance.


We follow the “Vanguard Model for Check”, spending time with your team to model the flow of works through your system. The process of check provides a very hands-on, normative experience for the team, who will learn how to analyse and understand the performance of the business.

The team will be made up of several people from across the organisation and would necessarily include a Senior Manager, Office Staff and at least one Operative.

At the end of check, the team will present their findings to you and you will be given the option of allowing them to continue into a redesign of your systems to eliminate any waste found.

3. Redesign & Roll-in

When presented with the findings of ‘check’, you will have the option to continue into redesign. We will guide the team through this in much the same way that we do in check, helping the team to discover the art of the possible and design the perfect flow.

Redesign is carried out in a controlled environment and utilises IT designed against demand. The team will learn how to create a new work flow, removing waste from the system and doing only the tasks that add value to you and your customers. When the team are happy with the flow and know what measures are needed to keep track of performance, we ensure that IT is designed to make the new system as efficient as possible, with the right management information available in the right format, at the right time.

The team will pilot customer demand through the new system in a very controlled way, gradually building up the scale of usage until you are ready to roll it in to the remainder of the business.

Once roll-in is completed, we will leave you with the ability to sustain the new way of working without further dependency on us. However, although our charges cease, our interest in your business does not and we are always available to our past customers for any help and support that they need

Why is Logistics so important in creating the Perfect Flow?

Most repairs need parts and materials.

But how often does the tradesperson have the right parts on their van and how often do they have the time to fit them?

“For three years we have been learning the art of the possible in logistics by creating the ‘perfect flow’ of work from the customers perspective. When we studied logistics as a system on the basis of what mattered to the customer, we found we could deliver a significantly improved service over traditional methods with reduced end-to-end costs”

Neil Alexander

What we see:

In up to 80% of repairs, the skilled tradesperson has to leave site to collect/order parts. On average, this practice wastes 1.8 hours per day for each and every one of them.

What is the cost of this wasteful practice?

For every 10 tradespeople you have, the annual cost is £100,000, straight off your bottom line

We help organisations regain that lost profit, by providing a better, more efficient service for the customer. Win-Win.

“Perfect Flow Solutions are the very best Systems Thinking logisticians that I am aware of in the UK and Ireland. They deliver effective solutions that address the needs of their clients, designed specifically against demand. Effectiveness leading to efficiency and delivery of true economy through a focus on flow”

John Little
Vanguard Consulting

What do we do that is different to all others?

What one customer found;

“Our van stocks are like kitchen cupboards; a few items at the front that we use all the time and a whole heap of dusty stuff behind that, which has gone out of date”

Most stock ends up on a van or in a store “just in case”. At Perfect Flow, we have a better approach;

  • Van stocks based on individuals daily usage
  • Using statistical process control to accurately decide what parts have earned a place in your stock
  • Stock replenished daily, direct to your vans on site

But you can’t carry everything on a van, right?

No you can’t, but why make your skilled tradespeople go shopping, when parts can be brought to them while they keep working?

Responsive deliveries to operatives directly to the door, within minutes and at the exact time they want them

  • Not within 24 hours
  • Not between 8 & 6
  • Not AM or PM
  • Not a two hour time window
  • The exact minute the materials are required

Is this even possible? Yes it is and we can show you how…

Case study

Portsmouth City Council

  • Worked with contractors to redesign the housing repairs system
  • Asked customers to ‘name their time’ for the repair and adapted capacity of resources to meet the specific appointments
  • Used statistical process control to interpret parts usage and set up individual van stocks for each tradesperson
  • Increased the percentage of repairs completed from van stock by 50%, whilst reducing stockholding by 75%
  • Introduced a rapid response delivery service for parts, delivered direct to site in minutes and resulting in efficiency gains for tradespeople of 25%
  • Cut the overall cost of service by 20%

Find out more about our clients...

By stocking more of the lines that matter and removing the ‘just in case’ lines, the results are counter-intuitive;

Stock reduced from £2,400 per van to £600.

The amount of repairs completed from van stock increased from 45% to 92%.

Where before each operative was wasting 1.8 hours per day shopping for parts, they now spend an average 8 minutes per day waiting for our deliveries.

How many more jobs could your operatives complete per day?

How much cashflow would you unlock from your stores?

“Great work-flow is essential to great efficiency. In our repairs service we found that poor logistics flow was causing a large amount of wasted time for our operatives and was costing us money. Perfect Flow has helped us completely redesign our logistics systems & flow and the benefits are profound. We have significantly reduced operative downtime & by having the right materials available at the right place and the right time, we have been able to fix more repairs in a single visit, without leaving site. This has resulted in huge customer satisfaction, which is our ultimate aim as a landlord.”

Jez Lester
Assistant Chief Executive
Incommunities Group

What would your company do in this situation? – How would you bridge the gap?

If this is a measure of phone calls to a call centre, it often leads to outsourcing and a move abroard. If this is a measure of work for a repairs contractor, it leads to sub-contracting, or employing more operatives.


What if we told you that a sizeable amount of that demand was caused by you failing to do the job right in the first place?

If this is a measure of phone calls to a call centre, how many are ‘chase’ calls or complaints? If this is a measure of work for a repairs contractor, how many are repeat visits for recalls, reworks, missing parts or problems with access?


We specialise in identifying the failure (waste) and turning it off. Now you have free capacity to expand.

If this is a measure of phone calls to a call centre, how many more customers can your existing staff service? If this is a measure of work for a repairs contractor, how many new contracts can you take on with your existing overhead?



Portsmouth City Council

Portsmouth City

A Unitary Authority with a housing stock numbering more than 15,000. The Head of Housing, Owen Buckwell, recently picked up the first ever global management innovation prize, ‘The M-Prize’ for the extraordinary work completed in housing repairs. The Prize is hosted by the ‘Management Innovation eXchange’ (MIX), an open innovation project aimed at reinventing management for the 21st century.


Incommunities H.A.

Incommunities was formed in 2003, following a stock transfer from Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council. They provide affordable, high quality homes, principally for rent in neighbourhoods across the Bradford District. Incommunities currently manage more than 21,500 homes and nearly 1,000 leasehold properties.


Norse Property Services

One of the UK’s most dynamic and fast-growing Facilities Management services providers in the UK, Norse Group brings together facilities management provider Norse, property consultancy NPS Property Consultants Ltd (NPS) and care provider, NorseCare, creating a group-combined turnover in excess of £200 million pounds and providing employment for over 10,000 people.

Norse Group’s client list includes the NHS, MOD, the emergency services (Fire and Rescue and Police), Housing Associations, Local Authorities and numerous private sector organisations.


Ian Gilson

07739 592195

Neil Alexander

07525 909445

Contact us online


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