West Lancashire Borough Council has implemented Orbis TaskCentre in conjunction with Aareon QL to automate many of its previously manual or inefficient housing processes around rent arrears, universal credit, asbestos monitoring and other services.
Craig Round, project manager for service development, West Lancashire Borough Council, said, “We have to use service automation if we want to save money and resources. We might not be making cashable savings for some of the things we do, but we are releasing the resources to be directed to the right areas.”
The introduction of Universal Credit in 2013 meant that the council had to re-evaluate its entire rental management process.
Round said, “Whereas in the past the housing benefit was paid direct to us, the introduction of universal credit means that the benefit is paid direct to the tenant and then they pay us, but sometimes this can be a challenge. We’ve therefore now built some tasks in TaskCentre to manage all of the different elements so that people don’t have to manually enter information into Aareon QL and chase up tenants; it’s all automated.”
Managing debit and arrears is another significant issue for the council’s rent and money advice team. Every Monday morning, the team needs accurate and current information regarding the rent balance of every tenant. TaskCentre now automatically monitors the ‘debit run’ in Aareon QL over the weekend and reports when debits have failed, succeeded or if there is a problem. It then collates all of the information and displays it to the council’s rent team so that it has everything it needs on Monday morning.
Similarly, TaskCentre has also been deployed to monitor the state of cash flow in Aareon QL and to email all the relevant people concerned about the value of the posting each night. Round said, “With TaskCentre also monitoring the cash flow and notifying the team, they know what to expect on the accounts and what payments we’ve got when they come in the next morning.”
The council reported that it has saved £1 million in the past year, mainly from jobs and posts that haven’t needed to be filled as a result of the increased automation from using TaskCentre.
Round said, “Rather than spend a lot of money with third party developers, we want to do as much as possible ourselves and TaskCentre allows us to do that. For us, it’s not only freeing up a lot of our income officers’ time, it’s also removing the need for a lot of expensive integration.”