The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) provides subsidized rental housing and rental assistance to low-income Seattle residents. In addition to providing high-quality housing, SHA offers residents an array of assistance programs to help increase self-sufficiency and promote health and wellness.
Improving Technology Efficiency
There is often a gap between the benefits technology can provide and how fully users leverage those benefits. According to Josh Crites, strategic advisor for SHA’s housing operations department, the agency’s initial rollout of Yardi Inspection did not maximize efficiencies by fully committing to changing staff workflows around new software technology. A study initiated by SHA’s IT Steering Committee found the housing agency was not actualizing the potential benefits of its software investment.
Yardi Inspection and Yardi Inspection Mobile
Per committee recommendations, SHA rolled out the complete functionality available to them in Yardi Inspection and Yardi Inspection Mobile. Yardi Inspection is a flexible tool for scheduling, performing and managing all types of inspections for nearly all property types. All inspection data is stored in the centralized Yardi Voyager database to provide total transparency. With mobile access, users can easily conduct inspections from a smartphone or tablet. Resulting data is seamlessly stored in Voyager and made available for follow-up appointments, charges or closing out a resident’s account.
Adding Value to the Inspection Process
In 2016, the SHA IT Steering Committee commissioned a study into the housing agency’s processes for inspecting units. The team of analysts used the Six Sigma methodology to conduct a thorough review of inputs and outputs of the Yardi Inspection program.
Shadowing inspectors over the course of a work week, analysts grouped each hour of work into two categories: tasks that were necessary and added value to the process and tasks that did not. One of the study’s major findings was that inspectors spent 50 percent of work hours on tasks that were not necessary, given new software capability. Tasks that were replaced include travelling back and forth to the office, filling out forms and manual data entry.
The committee concluded that if half of the work conducted by SHA’s inspectors could be automated, something needed to change. The committee recommended that SHA take full advantage of its Yardi Inspection software.
Josh Crites, strategic advisor for SHA’s housing operations department, discussed the report’s findings and recommendations. “Our study found that we could save more than 950 staff hours per year using Yardi Inspection to its full capability. We could double the number of units inspected each year without having to hire an additional inspector,” said Crites.
Integration between Yardi Inspection and the central Yardi Voyager platform is key to SHA’s gained efficiency. SHA inspectors now create work orders in Voyager using a mobile device while in the field. SHA has set up Voyager so that the solution automatically routes work orders to staff for repair. Voyager also automatically records cost data for accounting staff. “Those process improvements alone will save 188 staff hours per year by solving the need for inspectors to come back into the office and manually type up work orders,” said Crites.
SHA found several other work tasks they could cut using Yardi Inspection, including how they schedule inspections, mail notices to residents and monitor unit re-inspections. “Cutting those tasks makes our inspectors more efficient so they have more time to get into more units,” said Crites.
SHA’s improved inspection processes benefit staff, residents and the agency’s physical properties. “Getting into more units each year for inspection increases our confidence that we are uniformly maintaining decent, safe and healthy living environments. That’s a win for everyone,” said Crites.