From the hands of the tenants – straight to the Northgate Housing Management Software.
The global demand for housing services has stretched the work capacity of mobile workers. Compliance standards have risen and more manual jobs must be completed per day. There is an increasing number of house visits and physical paperwork tasks, including government forms, inspection notes, and legal agreements.
Users of the Northgate Housing Management system strive for excellent service improvement for tenants, residents and leaseholders. However, the traditional paper-based system has slowed down the efficiency of house and tenant management processes across over 19,000 homes.
Our client realised their paper-based system needed to change. They needed to find a solution that would cut down the time and costs of their current process:
- Reduce travel time to and from the office
- Reduce paper print
- Reduce double data entry
- Increase information security and data security standards
Our client used a combination of Northgates’ integrated housing management system, SharePoint and several other smaller systems. The combination of Northgate and SharePoint allowed the development of reports and tenant relationship forms. Yet our client missed a central piece; a mobile solution for tenant relationship form completion and tracking.
“For a few years, the complexity of an integrated system was difficult. We knew the integration was a large undertaking; it was new technology we hadn’t used. Ultan Technologies were able to come in and promptly deliver an integrated solution.”
The social housing service searched the market for a partner with the expertise and technical skills required to streamline this process. The new integration with mobile technology and existing systems was crucial to the project’s success.
Imagine a valuable integration that improved the existing service delivery and management of the tenant relationship – all from a single mobile device. Enter mWorkerCIS, our product built to support interactions with API integrations and file management products such as DropBox, SharePoint or other internal servers in place.
Data collected can be automatically exported or/and updated to an external folder or a third party system, such as Northgate Housing Management system through an API integration.
Selected fields for e-forms can be prepopulated with data from another system. Importantly, we can adapt as processes evolve and build our mobile workforce data management product into any current technology ecosystem, hence why mWorkerCIS was their chosen solution.
With the flexibility of mWorkerCIS, our clients have begun the smooth transition into our housing solution. They will begin a paperless approach to home and tenant relationship management in the next few weeks.
They will use mWorkerCIS’ customised forms to record a variety of data on-site, such as capturing text, images, scanning barcodes and signatures on any smart mobile device. The information captured in the field is sent directly to reports and dashboards and into the Northgate Housing Management System, which are made available to admin and senior office staff.
Additionally, our client intends to use mWorkerCIS to manage the mandatory Local Authority CORE Government forms and certain stages of the tenant relationship management process.
All social housing services are required to record and submit the social and economic background of both private registered providers and tenants (referred to as LA CORE) to the Local Government, for the purpose of national statistics. This includes the ethnicity, demographics, disability, language, military services, homelessness and other characteristics of the tenants and their homes.
Our client found it difficult to manage LA CORE information. Forms were understandably coming back to head office with minor errors. Similarly, there was room for error when paper forms were retyped into back office systems. Click and drop down options within mWorkerCIS will help minimize the error rate.
“This will allow us to reduce paperwork, double entry, and increase accuracy for our forms. Another benefit is that we will be more confident in the data submitted for the government return forms.”
The seamless integration of mWorkerCIS and Northgate can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of tenant relationship management through many areas, including the tenant sign-up and agreement/refusal forms.
Additionally, now our client can record and track the reasons why tenants refuse a particular home. This will help manage the tenant priortisation process. For example, a tenant’s position may change on the priority list due to their number of refusals.
Excessive paper will be eliminated and void days will be dramatically reduced due to the speed of the automation process. This improvement in efficiency and effectiveness will allow our client to meet key performance indicators. Additionally, forms can trigger other forms that need to be filled in (see image below).
For instance, a workflow can be set up where an acceptance of keys form cannot be submitted until they complete an agreement form. At the same time, the agreement form can be automatically converted into a PDF and sent into SharePoint, where it can be emailed out to the right people at any given time and date.
Looking to the Future
Ultan Technologies has been working with the client to design several additional forms. These forms will help manage further elements of the tenant relationship in terms of inspection, legal agreements and other data collection stages in the tenant management process.
As of now, if tenants were to give notice, they can either submit their information through a webportal or in person during walk-in office hours. This information is sent into Northgate. Once the inspectors are notified of the notice, the inspectors will use mWorkerCIS in the field and report their audits through their mobile device.
The inspection information is automatically sent from mWorkerCIS to Northgate to close the loop and is also stored in SharePoint. The automation of this process will reduce void days caused by admin delays.
Within time, it is our goal for clients to take ownership of their mWorkerCIS configuration and create their own forms with the system. They envision that these forms will help field-based staff in other areas of the organisation.
By using mWorkerCIS, the automation process will minimize the inherent risks that come with paper-based operations. Travel time, double data entry, and paper print volumes will all be minimized and information security will strengthen.
“The Operative Repairs team can use these surveys to maintain standards. Our Standard Home team who must go through a choice event process can replace their sheets, and they can collect tenant furniture and interior design preferences more efficiently with this automation process …We will definitely rely on Ultan Technologies for a while to help guide us towards our vision.”
When our client posted the tender document looking for a vendor to join their integration team, their evaluation criteria was heavily weighted on the tenderer’s ability to deliver an integration service around the mobile product. They needed more than just an off-the-shelf product.
Ultan Technologies understood the service demand and knew their skill set and previous experience with large technological projects would be a great fit for their organisation. Their vast knowledge in the tasks involved helped reassure those responsible for the selection that Ultan Tech would deliver the necessary services for a successful product integration.
As the spirit of the partnership develops, our client already recognise that mWorkerCIS provides value beyond operational excellence and that the product will open up new opportunities to enhance the business performance and future service growth.