One of the largest housing associations in the Midlands, Platform Housing Group currently has a portfolio of over 45,000 homes. The organisation has built more affordable homes in England in the past two years than any other social housing provider in the country. Keeping track of this vast portfolio is a significant challenge and one that lends itself to increased digitisation of all aspects of property management – from development to repairs to resident services.
In the area of Housing development, Platform has to keep track of progress on a host of different projects. This can be a cumbersome process – colleagues in central office regularly spend time chasing for updates and sign-offs or waiting for supporting documentation to arrive. What became evident is that the rapid creation of a digital process would create simplicity, enable transparency and deliver greater effectiveness.
The leadership at Platform knew that their internal technical expertise was already fully utilised in other areas, but they were determined to maintain the pace of their ongoing digital transformation. For this reason, they commissioned 4OC to provide some additional expert support.
4OC had previously supported the development of an innovative corporate strategy with the newly formed executive and leadership teams, and worked together to progress a series of implementation plans. This meant that we knew the client inside out and were able to easily identify high value processes that could be applied within the organisation, providing a solution that required no additional spend to run.
Firstly, we identified that Platform had complicated sign-off procedures for different categories of investment, so we got to work with co-designing and digitising Platform’s decision-making framework.
Implementing our Rapid Process Improvement (RPI) methodology, we used Platform’s existing Microsoft 365 packages to unlock free additional tools that could help streamline business functions. This meant that the IT department did not have to overhaul their existing operating systems, as Microsoft packages were already being hosted and licenses already paid for.
Using Power Apps within the Microsoft 365 package, we co-created a framework and digital pathway for Platform. They required project types to be categorised into development (buildings and asset management); non-development (non-building related, such as IT procurement); and disposal (when a site is taken off the books).
Once the category of a project was decided, for example, from that point the system could take over the process with the in-built knowledge of the relevant sign-off procedures required to achieve the next phase. If a project is accepted, it automatically progresses to the next stage of sign off. If it is rejected, it is directed to the appropriate pathway to follow.
This is an invaluable tool for all stakeholders. It enables employees on different projects to add notes and upload files and photos – making the process much more centralised and visible. As RPI utilises Microsoft Power Platform, including Power Apps and PowerBI (business insights), reporting is much more effective too. It provides Platform with key metrics, allowing the organisation greater control over budgets and timescales and thus enabling rapid strategic decision-making processes.
“4OC were a collegiate partner right from the very beginning, working with us to ensure our design and technical standards were understood and adhered to, and producing high quality documentation detailing all development, so good in fact that we now use it as the standard for our other suppliers. We are very happy with the outcomes of this project”
Jon Cocker – CIO at Platform
"... we are very happy"
Outputs and Impact
Once we set up the framework, we created a testing area in the 4OC environment and ran checks on its functionality. When we were happy with the pathways created, and the business owners in Platform had checked the functionality, the app was transferred over to Platform’s environment to test.
We supported throughout the testing phase, fixing any glitches and supporting the team with queries so that we could leave the app behind in capable hands. With little to no coding required for RPI, it meant that employees were able to start using the app within a short timescale.
Platform now has a streamlined business system that enables decisions to be made around investments more efficiently. By hosting all information in one place, auditing decision making related to investment is also much easier.
If you want to speak to someone to understand if or how this could quickly help your organisation with a problem, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.