How to improve system integration in housing management_

8th May 2024 | 8 min read

How to improve system integration in housing management_

Housing associations must manage a lot of data across multiple tenants, partners, suppliers and stakeholders. This data is crucial to their performance, including how they serve tenants and keep operations moving smoothly.

However, the ability to effectively manage and act upon this data is reliant on high-performing systems. Without it, you risk miscommunication, inefficiencies and an inability to meet service expectations.

Yet, recent data suggests that many associations face the headaches of unintegrated systems. If systems aren’t connected, it’s impossible to make intelligent decisions and keep tenants satisfied.

We explore the barriers housing associations face with the current systems and how improved system integration can ease the pain.

The integration challenge facing housing associations_

A recent report from Housing Technology found that lack of integration between systems was one of the leading challenges for housing associations. 95% of providers faced issues with data quality due to a lack of IT integration.

Delving further into the issue, a quarter of respondents said most of their systems were unable to share data, with a further 45% saying some of their systems were affected. Only 6% reported no issues at all.

This suggests that a lack of system integration is a sizeable issue across the industry, leaving many providers unable to get quality data and leverage it for better decision-making.

The research also found that every respondent ranked the integration capabilities of new technologies as very important or important. It suggests that associations are ready for this problem to be solved as they look to the future.

Why are unintegrated systems posing challenges for housing associations?

There are many potential downsides housing associations face without integrated systems – particularly when it comes to legacy Housing Management Systems.

Firstly, information can easily get trapped in individual systems like tenant databases, maintenance logs and financial platforms. This creates data silos, making it difficult to get a holistic view of operations.

Inconsistent data entry across systems further complicates matters, leading to inaccuracies and unreliable reporting.

This disparate data hinders effective decision-making. Housing associations rely on data to understand tenant needs, manage resources and allocate funds. Without a unified view, they’ll struggle to identify trends and make data-driven decisions.

Furthermore, a lack of integration forces staff to manually transfer data between systems, wasting valuable time and increasing the risk of errors. Simple tasks like generating reports or processing rent payments become unnecessarily complex and time-consuming.

Users will also need to constantly jump between platforms, leading to further time wasted and frustration.

Unintegrated systems can make it difficult to gather and export data ahead of regulatory reporting. This increases the risk of non-compliance, which is crucial within the housing industry.

Finally, you may face reduced resident satisfaction. Inefficiency and delays caused by unintegrated systems can lead to frustrated residents, especially if they face long resolution times or need to repeat themselves.

For example, a maintenance issue could easily get lost in within data silos, leaving a tenant feeling unheard. This can damage resident trust and satisfaction.

The benefits of increased system integration_

The findings from Housing Technology suggests that many housing providers are already keen to overcome system integration issues. Given the performance benefits, it’s no surprise.

Integrated systems automate data transfer between platforms, eliminating manual work and saving valuable time. As a result, organisations can benefit from increased productivity.

Rent payments can automatically flow from the tenant portal to the accounting system and maintenance requests seamlessly feed into the work orders. This frees up staff to focus on higher-value tasks and improves overall productivity.

Integration also enhances data accuracy. It ensures data remains consistent across all systems. Updates made in one platform are automatically reflected in others, eliminating the risk of errors caused by manual data entry. This provides a single source of truth, allowing housing associations to rely on reliable data for decision-making.

Integrated systems also provide a holistic view of operations. Housing associations can easily generate comprehensive reports that combine data from various sources. This allows them to identify trends, analyse resident demographics and track performance metrics. Most importantly, this empowers strong decision-making and proactive resource allocation.

Plus, with integrated systems, you can gain seamless communication and information flow to improve resident service delivery. Regardless of how a tenant contacts you, you can respond swiftly and automate actions.

By improving efficiency, accuracy and communication, integrated systems ultimately lead to a better experience for residents.

Integration also eliminates the need for manual data entry, reducing the risk of errors that can lead to costly rework. Additionally, streamlined operations and improved efficiency can translate to lower administrative costs.

How to improve system integration_

With so much to be gained through system integration and housing associations ready to end their frustrations, now is the time to change. We list our top tips for improving connectivity between housing systems.

1. Assess your needs

It’s best to begin by taking stock of all the software solutions currently used in your organisation. This might include tenant management systems, accounting platforms, maintenance request tools and any resident portals.

When assessing, analyse how data flows between these systems and take note of any manual processes. This will identify areas where integration would offer the most significant benefits.

Then, define your integration goals. Clearly outline what you want to achieve with increased integration. For example, do you seek to improve efficiency in rent collection or streamline maintenance workflows? Articulate and document these specific goals to guide your integration strategy.

2. Choose the right approach

There are a few ways you can integrate your systems, so it is crucial to choose the best route for your needs.

The first option is API integration. This enables data exchange between your existing systems. APIs allow these systems to talk to each other and automatically transfer information.

Another option is a data integration platform (DIP). This is a dedicated platform that acts as a central hub for data exchange. DIPs can connect disparate systems and transform data formats to ensure seamless integration.

Finally, you can explore cloud-based housing management systems that offer built-in integration capabilities. These solutions can eliminate the complexity of managing multiple software installations and simplify the integration process.

The option you choose will depend on your budget, needs and existing systems. If you’re unsure, it’s worth reaching out to an IT professional for advice.

3. Plan and implement

Once you’ve identified the route forward, you can develop an integration strategy. Outline a clear plan for implementing your chosen integration approach. This includes identifying resources, establishing timelines, and defining milestones.

Before integration, you must ensure data formats and definitions are consistent across all systems. This data mapping ensures accurate information flow and reduces errors.

Then you’ll need to thoroughly test the integrated systems to ensure functionality and identify any potential issues before they go live. This will enable you to avoid any headaches.

Finally, consider providing training for staff on how to utilise the new integrated environment. This will enable you to keep everyone aligned to best practice, so you realise the rewards of your improved systems.

4. Ongoing management

Once the project is finalised, it’s crucial to monitor performance to identify any areas for improvement. This proactive approach ensures continued efficiency and data accuracy.

It will also enable you to realise the impact of the change, which will allow you to report it to the rest of the organisation and track the long-term results.

Finally, aim to stay on top of the latest technological advancements. The landscape is constantly evolving, with better solutions emerging. Regularly evaluate new integration solutions and consider future system integrations to maintain a competitive edge.

How BRIKHousing can help_

We are all too familiar with the headaches housing providers face. Data silos and fragmented systems limit your ability to serve tenants effectively and conduct processes efficiently, leading to increased stress, costs and effort.

That’s why we designed the BRIKHousing Housing Management System. Specifically designed for Housing Associations, this centralised solution empowers superior decision-making and omnichannel communication. You can access real-time insights into the metrics that matter the most, leveraging your data effectively and enabling you to streamline internal processes.

The system is also modular, covering all key areas of housing management including customer service, rent setting, arrears, asset management and maintenance. Each module allows you to work more efficiently and to provide a better service to your residents, while giving you the ability to tailor the system to your goals.

Housing management becomes easier with just one, integrated system covering all your needs.

Find out more about how we’re changing the face of Housing Technology:

Get in touch today to find out more about how the system could overcome your integration headaches.

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