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04 Nov 2019

Having a structured set of activities to follow brings order to any organisation. Workflows are the cornerstone of delivering predictability to business processes as well as a means for scaling and optimising tasks.
At their simplest they are basic flow charts – how to move your tasks from point A to point B, but at their most complex they can be automated, and over time will increasingly use data and AI to predict things – making organisations even more efficient. But are your workflows making your business processes
easier, or are they creating more tasks for your workforce to deal with?

Roughly speaking, workflow can be split into two distinct camps – the routine tasks that are predictable and mundane and those that are more unique one-off events. In housing there are a plethora of routine tasks such as maintenance checks on properties, rent arrears checks, compliance triggers such as gas, electricity or legionella certificates… the list goes on. These are of course the easiest to schedule into a workflow scenario because the system knows what date to trigger the workflow such that, for example, the correct correspondence is sent to the maintenance or customer service personnel and the tenant is also notified. The outcomes can also be logged and trigger the next chain of events – repairs, rent letters, debt collections etc. Where a more unique one-off scenario might play out, automated workflow may be much more challenging and difficult to create but there is still an element of automation that delivers a reaction to any action taken. Does your workflow complete these actions in an automated flow of events, or does it simply request that an employee picks up the next action?

Consider the scenario: property A needs a gas service. The system triggers an update a month or two before the anniversary of the last gas check. Does your workflow simply send a message to customer services to tell someone to send an email to both tenant and gas engineer to raise the work? Or does the system complete both tasks, notifying the correct stakeholders, and triggering an SMS reminder the day before? When the service is complete and remedial works are finalised, does the system trigger the maintenance, log the work in the system and file the certificate away rescheduling the new service for twelve months hence, or is a customer services agent notified to ‘send a letter to the tenant’ and schedule the next date in? True automated workflow does the former – it doesn’t make more work for your customer service agents - reducing the number of steps between A and B, not creating additional ones.

The list of functions that can be triggered is huge and any plug-ins to the system update the records as part of the process – it’s easy to create interfaces to third party contractors where necessary. An automated system will be able to check every 15 minutes for the ‘status’ of an event, working out what has changed and what actions can be moved on to the next level or stage to bring about resolution. It’s all about defining and improving existing activities through to execution. Streamlining and optimising processes, spotting redundancies and opportunities for automation that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Reducing risk and unpredictability and having greater scalability as well as providing transparency for decision-making, accountability at every stage and much easier auditing – especially once a project is complete.

If you’d like to know more about MIS-AMS’ housing management system and how workflow can improve your business processes, please contact
ask@mis-ams.com

 

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