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Office 365 solution for housing / tenancy documents and Board Paper management

by Stuart Robertson : Improve : Housing Association

Red Kite Community Housing

Red Kite Community Housing are a tenant-led, not for profit, charitable housing association which own and manage more than 6,700 homes in the Wycombe District, Buckinghamshire.

The challenge

Operational efficiency is key to delivering a high quality of service and it was recognised that several internal systems and processes needed to be improved.The first phase of work dealt with delivering two new systems for knowledge and document management.

Firstly, a central location for tenant and housing related information was required. This would need to be accessed by the various customer facing teams to allow them to quickly find answers to common questions such as “who do I contact about a burst pipe” or “what pets are allowed at a specific type of property”.

Secondly, a new system was required for managing and distributing board papers to allow board members to collaborate effectively. Red Kite needed a robust solution that was both easy for the Board Secretary to manage, but also addressed a number of concerns the members had about the current solution (which was deemed to no longer be fit for purpose).

Solution

Having reviewed several options, Red Kite decided to adopt SharePoint Online, as part of their Microsoft Office 365 deployment, to provide their corporate platform for knowledge management, document & records management and business process automation. Having only limited in-house expertise in SharePoint, Red Kite then appointed Deltascheme to be their implementation partner to provide best practise advice & guidance and to support the transfer of skills to their in-house team.

Initially Red Kite worked with Deltascheme to establish a robust corporate Information Architecture in SharePoint Online to ensure good ongoing corporate compliance and governance. Red Kite then progressed with the delivery of the two key business requirements identified. The centralised database of housing and tenancy related information, called ‘KnowledgeSphere’, was delivered using a single SharePoint site collection, several libraries catering for a variety of internal & external facing content (e.g. document & videos, etc.) and Enterprise Keywords was used to allow the team to effectively categorise (apply metadata) and subsequently locate the relevant information.

CSS was used to hide the quick launch and a simple search box was placed on the front page so users responding to a customer on the phone could quickly search for information. They could then use the refinement panel on their custom Search Results page to narrow the results set, rather than having to browse, sort and filter content spread over various locations.

The board members requirement was delivered using a Site Collection which provides a private document library for each board member, as well as document libraries for the original board papers and board rules & regulations. To promote collaboration within the board, a document library was provided, along with a discussion board, so members can submit content for review by their colleagues. The solution provided has negated the need for multiple emails to be sent out to members notifying them of new or modified content.

Red Kite has supplied each of their board members with a Surface Pro which is pre-configured to synchronise their private library, so they can edit and annotate documents on or off-line.

Benefits

Using Microsoft Office 365, Red Kite have now established a corporate platform for document & records management (including the Intranet), knowledge management, collaboration and business process automation to drive productivity, compliance and corporate governance.

Staff can now easily and quickly search for and find corporate forms, FAQs, and, using a customised search results page (with specific refiner) standard responses on how to deal with housing and tenant related issues.

The board secretary can now manage and maintain the board meeting packs, less emails are required to keep board members up-to-date, board members can see what they need to see, when they need to see it, and have a mix of private and collaborative spaces where they can work more effectively.

“Here at Red Kite, we have used Deltascheme for almost a year now and ‘they’re great’, a refreshing voice of sanity and advice in a confusing SharePoint world. We have leant on them heavily to beat our wild ideas into a usable shape, our Board and our staff are online and now we are moving forward to a world of SharePoint based EDM with automated retention, Knowledge sharing and Workflow wizardry.” 

Richard Hawkins
IT Systems and Service Manager