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30 Sep 2020

Only a short time ago, organisations made the difficult decision about whether to return to the office or not. In this uncertain situation, this was by no means an easy task.

For some companies, office-based working is undoubtedly more productive and efficient. Understandably many that fall within this category decided to revert to office-based working.

Others seemingly manage to work as effectively, or more so, remotely. This group could therefore continue to keep their teams at home, reducing disruption whilst they observed how the COVID situation developed during the Autumn/Winter season. Crucially, without experiencing further impacts on productivity.

But what makes the difference between the two? It's highly likely that the latter predominantly use digital/paperless processes and some form of process automation. 

In light of the current guidance to revert to home-based working where possible (at the time of writing), it would seem those that have returned to office life need to brace themselves for another long stint of working from home.

Many of the organisations that patched together a solution which enabled their team to work from home temporarily are now asking themselves: do we continue to carry the risks that come with our temporary solution, or take strides to redesign business operations for the medium and long-term?

So, is it time to revisit the paperless office? A few years ago, it was a hot topic that we couldn't stop talking about. But today it is still a work in progress, and automated tasking is used far more prevalently than automated workflows within the sector.

There are various benefits of automated tasking, particularly those related to compliance. However, it doesn't always remove reliance on paper-based processes or fix the issue of inconsistent, siloed data. Neither does it fully support your organisation to continue business as usual in times of disruption.

Workflow automation, on the other hand, ticks all of these boxes and more.

 

What is workflow automation?

In the simplest of terms, workflow automation is identifying a series of tasks necessary to complete a process, and then removing all the manual steps. It is often likened to dominoes: once the first one falls, it triggers the rest to fall in a pre-defined pattern.

For housing associations, the potential for process automation is enormous due to their abundance of routine, predictable tasks; from rent billing and tenancy agreements to maintenance checks and repairs appointments, and compliance triggers like gas, electricity or legionella certificates.

 

Supercharge your business continuity

Whether your team is office-based or working from home, automated workflows produce the same outcome. They tend to be digital-first, and therefore do not rely on staff having access to a print infrastructure. Acting as the cornerstone of a more agile way of working, process automation can help your organisation to better withstand disruption, and work more efficiently during 'normal' times. 

And unlike the patch solutions put in place to temporarily enable teams to work from home, with automated workflows you can be sure of compliance to GDPR and other legislation. 

 

A single source of truth

The holy grail of all organisations dealing with masses of data. It supports better decision making, a better customer experience, greater productivity, enhanced employee satisfaction, greater compliance, and more. 

Organisations working with data siloes often experience issues with inconsistencies, reduced visibility and inefficiencies. And when teams must work from home, these issues can exacerbate.

The ActiveH Housing Management System works from a single database, giving you a single source of truth out of the box. However, if you are using systems from other suppliers, automating the flow of data across various silos can guarantee compliance, automate auditing, and ensure process standardisation.

Creating interfaces with third parties or contractors is simple too, and plug-ins to the system can update your records as part of the process. An automated system will be able to check at routine intervals 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 a resolution. 

 

An improved customer journey

So important is the customer journey, that it has become part of our everyday vernacular. 

The latest research into customer journey satisfaction tells us that what customers care about most, is the overall journey. Although they can score individual touchpoints highly, for example, if the team members dealing with them were friendly, helpful and courteous, customers can still reflect negatively on their journey experience if they feel it has taken too many touchpoints to reach their end goal. 

As par for the course, workflow automation simplifies and streamlines business processes, including customer-facing ones. By stripping processes back, and making sure that each touchpoint adds value for the customer, and gets them from point A to point B as efficiently as possible, workflow automation helps organisations to boost customer satisfaction and reduce churn. 

If you’d like to know more about MIS-AMS’ housing management system and how workflow can improve your business processes, get in touch, we'd love to talk with you: ask@mis-ams.com

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