TSG was recently joined by three of its housing customers – CHP, Loreburn Housing and Selwood Housing – for a webinar in which they showcased their Microsoft Power Apps projects across multiple use-cases, demonstrating the versatility of the technology.
Loreburn health and safety app
When reviewing its app-development options, Loreburn Housing initially considered off-the-shelf solutions but these turned out to be too complicated, with much more functionality than Loreburn needed. The ongoing licence fees for those products also impacted the selection process, with Loreburn Housing ultimately selecting Power Apps due to its ability to provide a more tailored and effective solution which aligned with its existing IT environment.
After scoping and implementation, Loreburn Housing now has both a tablet- and mobile-based health and safety app, complete with a reporting dashboard showing live reports and actions.
Carole Garner, health, safety and environment coordinator, Loreburn Housing, said, “The previous process took far too long, it didn’t give us the accessibility needed for staff in the field and it was difficult to track the actions that were being raised. We were looking for something that was easier to report adverse events, but also allowed us to more easily manage the data and actions from those events.”
Since the launch of the app, Loreburn’s staff have found the report submission process much easier to complete. Garner said, “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about how much easier it is to submit a report. It’s made the management of our actions so much better.”
Selwood’s person-centred risk assessment app
Selwood Housing recently established a new ‘supported living’ team to provide more targeted support to vulnerable tenants, which came with new requirements for ‘person-centred risk assessments’. After discussing its requirements with us, Selwood decided it would adopt a ‘knowledge transfer’ approach to the project.
Mark Heyworth, group head of ICT, Selwood Housing, said, “While TSG built the app, they took our team through the development process at the same time so that we could pick up the skills we’d need to build the next app as well as maintain and support this one.”
The final Power App solution integrates with Selwood’s housing management system to create assessments and intuitively searches for a current list of cases due, pulling these through to the home screen of the app to be actioned.
The app is dynamic by nature, with a list of hazards and questions housed within collection tables in SharePoint that can be edited when needed to update the application in real time. The SharePoint lists also allow for multiple levels of conditional functionality to be used in the hazards section, creating a smooth and easy to follow input process.
The team at Selwood Housing has learnt a lot along the way and new processes have been created as a result of their learning and development on the Power Apps platform, with Joe Kenny, Selwood Housing’s ICT applications and solutions analyst, having already gone on to develop a desk-booking app to support the housing provider’s coronavirus policies.
CHP’s neighbourhoods app
CHP was originally looking for ways to extract more insights from its existing housing management system, in particular for CHP’s staff when they are out and about.
Speed was the driving force behind CHP’s choice of Power Apps, with the platform allowing for faster and more flexible development than its existing housing management system, aligned with CHP’s ‘Microsoft-first’ approach to IT.
Currently in development, the app will allow members of staff to select the neighbourhood they are visiting and access live information on the current activity. This will include the number of local customers, employees working in the area and repairs to be completed.
Richard Hawkes, digital services development manager, CHP, said, “It was quicker than we expected to develop an app when you’re working with a partner. We’ve gone from nothing to a full app in just a few weeks of development.
“The app is very much a framework that we’re going to expand on in future, such as integrating a web service that will automatically update the housing management system, rather than people having to do this manually.
“We’ve also learnt more about the Microsoft Power Platform as a whole in terms of Power Apps and Power Automate and how well the two go together. We’re already considering how we can use those along with cognitive services for things like improving invoice flows.”
Kirsty Marsden is a senior service design lead and Tony Hughes is a Microsoft solution strategist at TSG. Our thanks to Carole Garner (Loreburn Housing), Richard Hawkes (CHP), and Mark Heyworth and Joe Kenny (both Selwood Housing) for their contributions to this article.