Stonewater began working with Active Housing to enhance their online tenant services. Active Housing delivered a suite of online solutions including a sales & lettings platform which featured a Virtual Property Shop and digital tenant onboarding.
Who are Stonewater?
Stonewater is a large housing association based in the South of England. The social housing organisation manages around 32,500 properties for approximately 70,000 customers. Their core values are based around being ambitious, passionate, agile, commercial and ethical, and this is reflected in the work they produce across the South of England.
Stonewater chose Active Housing to help them undergo a full digital transformation of their services, this included a new customer portal, repairs reporting and a Property Shop.
After the launch of the successful Stonewater portal and repairs reporting, phase 2 of the project was to launch the Stonewater sales and lettings Property Shop. The Property Shop is a storefront for Stonewater to showcase properties to buy and to let, and gives prospective customers the ability to apply for a property online. The project’s intention was one centralised place for all of Stonewater’s to-let and for sale properties. Previously, Stonewater had listed these on separate websites, with a paper application form which was time consuming and lengthy.
Tenant Onboarding Applications
As well as developing a virtual storefront, the property shop allows customers to start the journey to applying for a property. The digital applications were delivered using the Active Housing’s, Active Onboarding product with some degree of customization based on Stonewaters processes.
The onboarding process is prompted when a prospective customer registers their interest for a property on the storefront. When this happens, the Stonewater admins are notified and will send a digital application form to the customer for them to fill out. The application they receive will be one of six applications that were created as part of the onboarding tool. The application form they receive is dependent on the tenure type that the customer is applying for. Each application gathers information around living history, previous addresses, employment, salary, savings, health and well being and criminal records.
Stonewater tenant onboarding application form.
Active Housing hosted and facilitated several scoping workshops with key stakeholders at Stonewater, including the Sales and Lettings team, before defining the project plan. This ensured that everyone involved was clear on the software requirements, and provided a strong foundation for development.
The project was managed in an Agile style of project management. Biweekly meetings were held via Microsoft Teams, as well as frequent communication via email. The teams used project management tools Asana and Jira to log track issues which ensured that any problems were resolved before going live.
Integration with MIS ActiveH (MIS’s housing management system) was required, and was completed using the standard MIS APIs. When an application form is completed by a prospective customer, the application details are written back into the Housing Management System for Stonewater admin staff to access.
One of the biggest challenges to the project was the testing process which was complex due to applications varying due to the many different tenure types. This was dealt with by the teams having regular calls to discuss their findings from the testing and ensure that nothing was missed from the long testing process.
Although the project is still awaiting a full rollout, both organisations are pleased with the results so far. Launching a digital property store front and application form is extremely forward thinking in the UK Social Housing sector and Stonewater is one of the few organisations that have done this. This is a testament to their core values as an organisation.