The Service Charge opportunity
Studies have shown that up to two hours per day can be saved by eliminating paperwork and streamlining workflow, along with cutting out unproductive travel[i]. It comes as no surprise then that in the face of today’s nationwide housing crisis, many Housing Associations (HAs) are looking to automate the traditionally spreadsheet-intensive task of Service Charge processing. Typically, monitoring payment cycles, updating tenants, and collecting charges are all managed on multiple Excel documents – and used right across the business.
HAs have complex portfolios from single properties to estates consisting of multiple blocks of flats, houses, differing ownership types, and properties that may no longer be under their ownership.
For each property, a potentially large number of different Service Charges needs to be apportioned, from roof repairs to garden maintenance, structural work to gutter clearing. In addition, tenant payment cycles may vary with some paying on an annual basis, others quarterly, and some spreading payments out monthly.
There may then be further complexities introduced through mergers and acquisitions. Historical legal decisions can define how Service Charges can be managed and charged for, demanding different approaches for differing parts of the portfolio.
As such, manually managing Service Charges is a task prone to inaccuracies and human error. Not to mention hugely time-consuming, inflexible, and draining on resources. With a portfolio of over 42,000 homes and over £16 million in Service Charge costs to collect for[ii], Orbit was one HA struggling to cope – their service charge process was performed using Excel spreadsheets, which proved hugely resource intensive. This also resulted in spreadsheets taking time to load, save changes or crashing.[iii]
Solutions too confined to customise
In a bid to solve this problem, some HA’s invest in “specialist” or “off the shelf” solutions that claim to make life easier by automating the process. However, these systems are often too rigid to cope with the large number of above-mentioned potential variants. The result? An expensive investment confined to its programming and difficult to customise; unable to save time, money, or deliver the expected business benefits.
Increase efficiency and reduce risk with Simpson Associates
This is where Simpson Associates can help. Hosted on Azure, our robust cloud based Service Charge solutions help drive efficiencies by transforming your Service Charge management into an automated, more integrated process. You get to keep your tenants more informed, by being able to quickly monitor and produce regular statements – as well as offer payment flexibility to suit their needs.
We build your solution from the ground up. So based on your exact requirements, your system will look, feel and do what you need it to do. And when your requirements change for example should your tenant numbers fluctuate, or you acquire a new business and need to add more properties, we can make the necessary changes in your system to easily adjust or import new data.
“Working with Simpsons has given us the opportunity to tailor the system to our specific needs….Simpson’s agile approach to their development allowed them to capture our feedback and translate this into the system design” – Tristan Hopper – Service Charge Operational Manager, Orbit[iv]
Simpson Associate’s .NET solution has no licence costs, meaning that any future changes to the operating model will have no impact if user numbers are increased.
For Orbit, the increased efficiency of our Service Charge solution will allow for the project costs to be recovered within the first year[v]. Time saving and risk adverse, we remove the error factor from using manual spreadsheets and help avoid costly mistakes.
Prepare for the next wave of technology, future-proof your systems, and free up time to focus on meeting the challenges faced by todays HAs. Contact Simpson Associates today for more information.
Nick Evans, Business Development Manager, Simpson Associates
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