Blog September 18, 2019

Is Housing Document Management your best corporate insurance policy?

By MRI Social Housing

This blog post relates to Castleton, one of our previous brands. For more information please read the press release.

Written by James Massey – Chief Operating Officer at Castleton Technology Plc.

Working in the social housing sector for over 20 years, it’s safe to say that Social Housing Providers are no longer questioning the business case for Business Transformation but have moved onto the more real question of ‘how do we do it?’. Whatever stage of this transformation journey you are on, your records and their security, availability and effective management throughout your organisation are key to driving real business change and compliance.

So, what do we say to our customers who are thinking about record management solutions? It starts off with four simple questions: a) Where are your records, b) How secure are they, c) Can you handle subject access requests and d) Are you GDPR compliant?

To which the answers are quite commonly

  1. a) all over the place,
  2. b) not sure,
  3. c) yes but its time consuming and
  4. d) not as much as we’d like to be.

I’m proud to say we’ve worked with around 160 social housing providers who have faced these questions and have come out the other end knowing what good looks like.


What does a good Document Management system look like?

When taking steps to review a solution, it’s a whole lot more than just scanning paper documents to the cloud and shredding the originals. It’s about content. Your Document Management system needs to cope with any type of content; from physical data, emails, text messages, media files, electronic forms and unified communications, to data that is captured in the field. This could be via your engineers or other staff working remotely within your communities and neighbourhoods. A true Document Management system should capture any interaction with any person, anytime and anyplace (and ideally from any device).

On the other side of capture and storage is the fast and efficient retrieval of customer records –
on-demand. This is where your organisation begins to see true productivity gains as your staff are no longer spending an age looking through filing cabinets for a single record. The average record retrieval time within Document Management systems should be seconds. This same speed and ease of access to information can be said for your customers too. With self-service applications on the rise, your customers can access for example rent statements, newsletters, reminder letters and gas certificates. The latter in line with ensuring home safety information is more readily available, post Hackett review.

So here comes the Castleton plug! All good Document Management systems should do the above, however Castleton’s Document Management is designed from the ground up, uniquely with and for the social housing sector. Our user interface, folder structures, document tagging, subject access requests, record security and document redaction functions are purpose built for Social Housing Providers. Because we are sector focused, we’ve built up an intimate knowledge of tasks that need to be performed on a daily basis and how Housing Providers want to interact with the system to get the most from their investment.

GDPR friendly document retention policies and the automation of rules can be set against Data Retention Guidance from the National Housing Federation. Furthermore, Castleton’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) means users can search and find specific records quickly, as well as automatically storing documents such as invoices on receipt with no manual intervention required.

Fundamental to Castleton’s suite of solutions is its open API architecture, allowing all our solutions to integrate with other back-office systems in the industry and Document Management is no different. Thanks to this ease of integration with third party software, we partner with other solutions providers such as Aareon, Capita and Orchard on Document Management projects and we continue to develop new and emerging partnerships thanks to the flexibility of this solutions platform.

Workforce mobilisation is a must and probably at the forefront of your Business Transformation strategy. If you use Castleton’s Agile solution (our field-based management system) or an alternative, you can seamlessly access Document Management through your Staff Agile app by instantly saving forms and images taken in your customers homes. Through our own Document Management solution, all your residents can access and view their records using portals such as our Castleton .DIGITAL solution. This provides all your customers with complete information transparency in a seamless, efficient and self-service way.


So, what’s stopping you?

Embracing new technology and new ways of working is no easy task, even if this new way of working seems pretty obvious! People can represent the biggest barrier here and you may well have already experienced this in other areas of your Business Transformation project.

Organisations need to carefully manage this change and cultural shift towards digitalisation, but I can understand the resistance. Buying into the security of records (especially when you can’t physically see it) can be difficult if you are used to having your records in a filing system on-premise under lock and key. But in the event of a fire, there is no insurance policy or possible retrieval of fire damaged records.

Over simplified yes, but the message is clear. Document Management solutions offer secure record storage and high availability of your records to designated users on demand. Wrapped into a SaaS cloud environment, there is no better insurance policy to protect your records and mitigate the risk of data breaches or loss. You need to consider all the back-office systems you currently have in place when reviewing an Document Management system, and whether it can become your one central system for record storage and retrieval, without the need for duplication or double-storage of records elsewhere.

These days, Housing Document Management is essential. If you haven’t got an enterprise-wide Document Management solution thus far, don’t drop any further behind. Our team are happy to assist with any demonstrations and put you in touch with our customers who have gone through the process and are seeing real business change.


Article featured in Housing Technology – Sept 2019. 

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