Housing with a social conscience.
Platform Housing Group kicks off a digital transformation to better serve tenets with Adobe Acrobat Sign.
Become a landlord of choice in a competitive housing market
Get people into homes as quickly as possible
Reduce risk during the COVID-19 pandemic by minimising in-person interactions
Decreases travel, saving staff hours of time, reducing health risks and keeping services moving during the pandemic
Saves 3 hours per agreement in contract management and more than £86,000 in travel costs in less than a year
Improves tenet experiences with new digital onboarding workflows and fast leasing process
Establishes a central, digital customer touchpoint with Microsoft Dynamics and Adobe Acrobat Sign
For Lisa Gascoyne, working in housing is more than just a job; it’s a passion.
“The greatest thing we can do as a housing organisation is give someone keys to a new home,” says Gascoyne, Group Strategic Lettings Manager at Platform Housing Group. “I’ve worked in housing for a long time and it’s exciting to see how technology can help us to get people into houses faster.”
This appreciation for technology was one of the reasons why Gascoyne wanted to join Platform Housing Group. Platform Housing Group is a not-for-profit housing association with diverse properties mostly located across the Midlands region of England. The organisation embraces technology as part of its mission to transform social housing with better homes and services at affordable prices.
When local authorities alert Platform Housing Group that someone from the social housing waiting list has expressed interest in a property, the potential tenet submits an application with personal information and references to Platform Housing Group for approval. That application is available as a simple online form, allowing tenets to submit paperwork at any time and from any device.
However final contracts and agreements were typically reviewed and signed in person. While Gascoyne had been exploring options to streamline this process through technology, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for a digital transformation to reduce contact between tenets and Platform Housing Group employees. The organisation mobilised quickly, adopting Adobe Acrobat Sign for electronic signatures. Using Adobe Acrobat Sign, Platform Housing Group can now offer tenets fast digital contracts — a change that will continue to benefit staff and tenets even after pandemic concerns fade.
“There are so many people on the social housing waiting list and not nearly enough affordable housing,” says Gascoyne. “Using Adobe Acrobat Sign, we can encourage digital self-service, allowing us to focus resources on remodeling homes, working with tenets and getting people into homes faster.”
“Using Adobe Acrobat Sign, we can encourage digital self-service, allowing us to focus resources on remodeling homes, working with tenets and getting people into homes faster.”
Group Strategic Lettings Manager, Platform Housing Group
Platform Housing Group better serves tenets with Adobe Acrobat Sign
Before Adobe Acrobat Sign, finalising tenancy agreements could take hours. A member of the Platform Housing leasing team would need to prepare two copies of the agreement and drive to the property. With properties located across the Midlands, staff could spend an hour or longer on the road. After viewing the property, the leasing team member would sit down with the tenets to finalise paperwork — a process that could take another hour — before handing over the keys and driving back to the office.
With Adobe Acrobat Sign, tenancy agreements are now entirely contactless. The leasing team sends a copy of the agreement through Adobe Acrobat Sign. Potential tenets can view the agreement, update information and sign the agreement from any device. Because the document is available electronically, they can read through the terms at their leisure and sign the agreement at any time of day or night. Adobe Acrobat Sign adds a level of security to this electronic process with an audit trail that tracks and records interactions to help authenticate the signature.
Once signed, Platform Housing Group sends potential tenets the code to a key safe at the property. A member of the leasing team phones tenets as they view the property to answer questions and confirm if a tenet wants to move in. If the tenet agrees to take the property, that’s it. With paperwork already signed and keys in hand, tenets can start preparing for their move immediately.
“Working with Adobe Acrobat Sign to deliver digital contracts saves the leasing team up to three hours per agreement,” says Gascoyne. “That adds up to a savings of £56,000 for the 1,478 tenancy agreements completed with Adobe Acrobat Sign so far. We’ve also reissued over 800 tenancy agreements electronically, which saves an additional £30,000 in travel time alone. We’re getting tenets into properties faster, which is good for us and more importantly, fantastic for our tenets.”
“We want to become the landlord of choice in England by balancing commercial needs with social conscience.”
Group Strategic Lettings Manager, Platform Housing Group
Rethinking the tenet experience
Adobe Acrobat Sign is just one part of a larger digital transformation at Platform Housing Group aimed at providing better service for tenets. The digital tenancy agreement has inspired the leasing team to look at new ways of approaching tenancy with a digital onboarding journey. Rather than overwhelming tenets with information all at once while reviewing the tenancy agreement, the leasing team creates a virtual conversation with a steady stream of messaging to help tenets better absorb information leading up to viewing a property.
Other teams across Platform Housing Group are also looking to move forms into Adobe Acrobat Sign. This includes tenet-facing forms, such as when tenets want to give notice about moving out, to internal paperwork for finance and human resources teams.
“One of the biggest reasons we selected Adobe Acrobat Sign over competing solutions was its ease of use,” says Gascoyne. “Tenets find it easy to use. They can just go online and submit a form in real time, without needing to deal with the post. But it’s also easy for us. I met with another team to teach them how to set up online forms with signatures using Adobe Acrobat Sign and the training only lasted half an hour. It was that simple.”
As part of the digital transformation, Platform Housing Group plans to implement Microsoft Dynamics to create a customer touchpoint to collect all tenet interactions, from submitting an application form to storing anti-social-behaviour statements. Platform Housing Group also plans to take advantage of the seamless integration between Adobe Acrobat Sign and Microsoft Dynamics to provide employees with a single interface for generating documents, sending them for signature and tracking document status.
“The digital transformation with Adobe Acrobat Sign has prompted us to continue to rethink how we can provide more available, efficient services,” says Gascoyne. “We want to become the landlord of choice in England by balancing commercial needs with social conscience. Adobe Acrobat Sign is a good first step to providing tenets with the modern, customer-friendly services they deserve.”