Technology has changed our lives in so many ways – from how we shop and stay in touch, to how we watch TV and even track and trace our movements. It has become second nature to expect the speed and convenience associated with online services, and it is inevitable that the IoT will continue to impact on how we live our lives.
In recent years, the social housing sector has seen a huge increase in the number of web-based applications aimed at improving systems, including everything from online application forms to apps that help tenants navigate through the system and find suitable housing options in their area. The last decade has seen a seismic shift in the way the sector manages site appraisal and property management using software that allows teams to manage cash flow more effectively and carry out complex site appraisals from any location, at the touch of a button.
App reach is now ubiquitous with over a third of UK adults describing their access to tech as ‘mobile only’ with lower social grades being much more likely to fall into this category.
Comscore MMX Multi-Platform, Adults 18+, December 2019, UK
Demand for smart apps from residents and staff is not going away, and commercial organisations have been quick to recognise the financial benefits associated with increased efficiency. Over recent years, we have seen a huge increase in housing associations and local authorities following this model in order to support their residents 24 hours a day. Similarly, the potential for cutting costs is also on the rise, with the development of new technology and the ability to incorporate more streamlined working practices fast becoming the norm.
How M3Central can help
M3Central, and its predecessor M3 Locator Plus, has been used by social landlords for the past 16 years as a means for residents to report repairs online. The clear illustrations provide a step-by-step guide to help the user through the process and identify the correct repair before a report is sent to the appropriate maintenance team.
Over the years, M3 has worked with a wide range of social housing providers to develop sophisticated processes for channelling the repair reports to the right person in the right geographic location. The software uses the same illustrations to provide a solution for call centres and technical staff to diagnose repairs and select the correct schedule of rates items to raise responsive repair and void property works orders.
Tenants of social landlords are one of the groups who are now more likely to access the web via their phone or tablet, instead of a conventional PC. Meanwhile staff want immediate access to their information wherever they are.
Technological innovations and increasingly high consumer expectation have created a surge in demand for new ways to diagnose and report repairs and the development team at M3 have been quick to respond to these changes, including the increase in the use of mobile devices by both tenants and housing staff.
M3 Head of Client Operations, Craig Oosthuizen has been working with housing associations to improve their systems for the past four years:
“People now expect to access apps and services from anywhere and on any device. Currently, M3 has over 100 Housing Associations using our reporting software and with an increasing shift to digital, this is now regarded as an essential rather than a nice to have.”
“If you want to provide an online repair reporting service, carry out void surveys, raise job orders using the M3NHF Schedule of Rates, or improve the accuracy of your repair reporting, M3Central can help you manage all those elements under one roof.”
Craig puts M3Central’s success down to several key factors:
“It’s the most popular system in its class because it offers unrivalled flexibility and value for money as well as integration with leading housing software systems.”
The software appeals to landlords who are looking to extend their use to more platforms and especially to mobile devices. It’s also ideal for customers using cloud-based housing systems who need integrated diagnostics or reporting, or both. The product’s success is also down to the fact that systems can easily be tailormade to suit each client’s requirements. Craig says:
“Our customers want systems that work for them immediately, but can also be customised and adapted to meet their changing requirements. The fact that we offer this, alongside deep integration of repair diagnostics and reporting has been a major factor in our success.”
It’s clear that apps designed for easy deployment which offer tight integration with other systems are good news for both tenants and landlords. In an ever-changing landscape, it’s good to see the sector focusing on systems that give tenants greater autonomy and harness the power of technology for the greater good.