Housing Associations across the UK own around 2.7 million properties according to the Office of National Statistics. That's a lot of paper! From property and maintenance records to confidential tenant information and supplier Purchase Orders, many housing associations have thousands of documents they have accumulated over the years.
However, with this information typically dispersed across disparate IT systems and filing cabinets, it can be a mind boggling and time consuming task to find essential information. Furthermore, too many important documents have been left at risk of loss, or forgotten about - not to mention the cost of filing and storage space or duplications.
So it is no wonder many have looked to electronic document management systems (eDMs) to replace the traditional filing systems of old. Housing associations can see that, with an eDM, they can react in real time, with immediate access to information enabling processes to be streamlined; ensure they meet requirements from their regulatory bodies and remain compliant. So what can housing associations do to reduce their reliance of the traditional paper trail?
1. Automate processes across the whole business
Using eDM workflow systems integrated with emails, housing associations can assign an owner or task to a document – all recorded with a full audit trail – gaining full control over all information.
Port of Leith Housing Association rehoused 50,000 documents this way, eliminating the need for 30 metres of shelving and eight filing cabinets, and improving the management of confirmations of instruction documents, valuation reports, gas certificates, tenancy agreements and post management questionnaires.
2. Ensure systems respond to all mediums
As more residents become technology-savvy and access services via a number of mediums, it is no wonder housing trusts, focused on quality customer care, are using IT systems to improve their services for their tenants.
Bournville Village Trust needed to ensure it had a suitable IT solution to meet the demand from residents. The trust wanted to ensure its residents received quality and speedy responses to any communication with the trust. Thousands of documents, including tenancy agreements, invoices and internal repayments were scanned into the eDM in only one week – transforming efficiency and providing rapid access to information for both administrative and client facing activity.
3. Ensure systems are as intuitive as Amazon!
Remember there's no point having clunky eDMs that your staff find awkward to use. Using simple, intuitive technology that is easy to operate will help with the employee on-boarding process and allows for minimum training.
Adactus Housing Group recently helped to develop a software solution that was as intuitive as Amazon to deliver real control and visibility to its Purchase Order Process (POP) and ensure it had robust control over spending across all departments, with a clear and transparent system of accountability for budget holders. Implementing an eDM had already improved the housing association's invoice process, its speed, throughput and control. The POP solution further removes the need for paper invoices and also allows budget holders to see the potential impact of financial commitments on their budget before any expenditure commitment.
When cost savings are a must for housing associations that often have strict budget constraints, replacing the traditional filing systems of old with new systems that can capture accurate, clean data can transform business and ensure associations are keeping up with the times.