It was obvious when the pandemic struck that the way we did business was going to change forever. As an independent housing provider with 450 employees and over 13,000 properties, it was clear that digital solutions would be needed to help us adjust and do so quickly.
We identified that one of the biggest challenges of the new situation would be minimising the contact we had with our residents while maintaining our speed and quality of service.
Although a daunting task at first, it turned out that the fix was a simple one – we used HelloSign to unlock the potential of digital contracts and document workflows. In doing so, we transformed our previous slow, physical signing process into a much faster digital process.
Moving away from pen and paper
Over the last decade, digital technology has streamlined nearly every aspect of the housing landscape, and the contract process is no different. Now tenants just need a smartphone and a wireless connection to add their signatures to contracts and move in.
As you might expect, managing thousands of properties generates a staggering amount of paperwork. Each contract is at least a 30-page document that needs printing, sharing, signing and copying before being stored. Of course, this is before you factor in credit checks, ID requests and other procedural documentation that must be printed and shared.
While the past year has seen a wide variety of digital transformation solutions emerge, online security needs to be a priority. Every housing provider has huge amounts of personal and sensitive documents that must be protected and stored for regulatory compliance. I believe that central to keeping your organisation safe is making sure that every solution you implement is easy to use as well as robust enough to fit your current processes; in general, the simpler the better.
The housing sector is always looking for new technologies that will help us to move faster and more efficiently, and in this regard, electronic signatures are a ‘must have’. By enabling tenants and housing providers to sign any document, from an offer to a contract on-the-go, tools such as HelloSign streamline all of the legal documentation involved in on-boarding new tenants.
Electronic signatures have revolutionised how our lettings staff work together and they can now move faster and better serve tenants by giving them the freedom to sign and return contracts remotely. And while we’re still in the relative infancy of its deployment, we’ve already eliminated 50 per cent of the paper tenancy agreements we would normally distribute.
Saving time, money and resources
With the pandemic forcing many of our staff to work from home and face-to-face contact with tenants and renters discouraged during the lockdowns, we have also seen a reduction in travel time and expense claims. Using HelloSign, all contracts and documentation are sent via email and returned via a mobile device, so that our staff no longer need to travel to meet tenants or bill back their expenses for such trips.
The fact that we can now quickly access and share what we need for a signature, from home or wherever we may be, has reduced our operational costs and freed up valuable travel time that would have otherwise been lost.
What does the future hold?
We are really excited about the role that electronic signatures are playing at Livv Housing and their potential across the wider housing sector. First adopted by our lettings team, HelloSign has since evolved into other parts of the business, such as HR for employee contracts and our governance team for signing off financial accounts.
By adopting a digital-first culture, we have eliminated the physical steps in our contract and document workflow processes, producing cost savings, improved employee productivity and multiple use cases across the business. The work that we have done with HelloSign is a reminder that transforming your business isn’t always only about taking a giant leap; often the adoption of smaller, more resilient solutions really does add up.
Guy Corbett is the director of business improvement at Livv Housing Group.