Social Housing

By on Dec 29, 2017 in News

Peter Altobelli, vice president and general manager at Yardi Canada Ltd. and Sean Bremner, maintenance director at Baptist Housing, presented a session on Social Housing Technology to a packed room at Housing Central. The conference was held in Richmond, BC and hosted by the British Columbia Non-Profit Housing Association.

Baptist Housing’s portfolio includes social housing in scenic Kelowna, British Columbia.

During the presentation, Altobelli and Bremner explored how technology can improve organizational management and generate cost savings with high returns on investment. The presentation also gave attendees advice in preparation for change as they implement new technology.

As vice president of a software provider that works with social housing organizations across Canada, Altobelli provided insight into the latest technology geared for non-profit housing managers. “The crucial value-adds that an organization will realize with the use of technology are automating tasks, improving the user experience with better tools to increase productivity, and simplifying staff management,” said Altobelli.

Altobelli spoke about how automated processes are most effective when based in the cloud and optimized for multiple web browsers, including tablets and smartphones. Putting those solutions in the cloud makes it easier to create effective access for tenants and prospects, property and financial management and maintenance management. “When you are able to access accounting, budgeting, inspections, maintenance, energy and resident management data all on one system, it enables increased productivity for your entire team,” Altobelli said.

Bremner presented a case study of how his organization, Baptist Housing, overcame internal challenges with technology. Focusing on maintenance workflows, Bremner described how former processes that required manual, handwritten notes often omitted relevant details, made it difficult to access active maintenance requests, created scheduling challenges and limited the capability of Baptist Housing to report on current and past maintenance requests.

“We adopted a cloud-based software solution that drastically changed our maintenance program. Our staff now collaborates in real time with desktop and mobile apps that provide live updates. It’s much more efficient than the paper maintenance request forms we used to fill out,” said Bremner.

The maintenance software also enables Baptist Housing to effectively schedule preventative maintenance activities, use email to update staff and residents on requests, attach photographs to document maintenance work, assign tasks to team members, and gain high level oversight of the maintenance program with reporting functions. “All of this automation provides us with a constant history of maintenance requests and how we responded to each of them. That was not possible before we made the switch,” said Bremner.

Baptist Housing’s return on investment in technology greatly outweighs the cost of implementation and licensing. Bremner presented figures that show how a rise in productivity made possible by its software saves the organization $130,000 per year. “Our productivity has ramped up based on more effective work order management, a sound preventative maintenance plan, improved organizational workflows and improved risk management,” said Bremner.

Altobelli concluded the presentation by talking about change management. “Taking the leap into automation requires certain basic elements, including hardware, reliable online connectivity, training, planning, tech champions within the organization, and effective communication with your team. The results you can expect from that work include better time management, increased staff efficiency, greater insight into performance with reliable metrics, cost savings, and of course, happier residents,” said Altobelli.

The session was valuable to the attendees as it explored both technology and its capabilities, but also a real world look at how automation can transform not only operations, but also the bottom line with a tangible ROI calculation.