Moving out, renovating, moving in – how GBG Mannheim digitised the change of tenant process
From the digital pen to the digital sheet of paper
Over the past two years, GBG Mannheim has also discovered how the latest technology can increase efficiency and quality when they switched from Digipen to modern iPads. With around 19,200 apartments, GBG Mannheim is the largest municipal housing association in Baden-Württemberg. Their properties need to be inspected and checked at regular intervals in accordance with a specific schedule. Are all the handrails intact? Does the roof need to be retiled? Are all the lights in the corridors and courtyard in good working order? The condition and refurbishment requirements of apartments being vacated also need to be checked. Do the existing windows comply with the valid standard? Should a kitchen be installed? Is the floor due for renovation?
To keep a clear record and archive of the answers to these questions, GBG Mannheim previously used a Digipen. However, this proved impractical after only a short time. Property managers would head out into the field equipped with the digital pen and a stack of paper forms that had been printed out beforehand. Based on the predefined paper grid, the Digipen could save the data that had been recorded by hand. At the end of the day, the caretaker responsible had to file the paper forms in the office and synchronise the data on the Digipen with that of GBG Mannheim’s SAP® system. The handling of the paper forms, which could not be dispensed with despite the digital solution, was not the only problem here. The Digipen’s handwriting recognition was sometimes also incorrect. In addition, special self-copy paper still had to be used, as multiple copies of the records were required. To avoid this additional effort and the complicated handing, GBG Mannheim’s management decided to replace the Digipen with an iPad solution at the end of 2015.
Easysquare put to the test at GBG Mannheim
“After carefully surveying the market, we decided get in touch with Promos – which has extensive expertise in the area of SAP® and mobile solutions – to enquire about a pilot project,” says Klaus Lange, head of IT and organisation at GBG Mannheim, explaining the selection process. For the proof of concept, PROMOS created a prototype in easysquare to demonstrate the application case of mobile vacant property inspections. Even at this early stage, caretakers from all five customer centres were actively involved in the project as key users to test the status entry via iPad. “The selected caretakers got on well with the new solution straight away. Operation was intuitive for the testers and at the same time saved them a considerable amount of time, as the usual post-processing was no longer necessary. This satisfaction was the decisive argument for commissioning PROMOS with implementation of this project,” concludes Lange.
Change of tenant as a closed process
Within just six months, PROMOS was implementing the required solution for vacant property inspections. Michael Zapf, project manager at PROMOS, describes the path to successful implementation: “In this specific application case of vacant property inspections, we didn’t actually change GBG Mannheim’s method in any way, but simply replaced the medium. We were able to base the solution directly on the existing SAP® processes. This had the added benefit that there was hardly any need for the employees to adapt.” Once the solution had proved itself in practice, other processes were also tackled gradually, with mobile property inspections following in September 2015, and the change of tenant process in December.
For the latter, in addition to the switch to iPads, new processes also needed to be mapped digitally. As well as the handover via a digital record, as part of the change of tenant the employee responsible can now perform meter readings or, for example, maintain specific fixtures and fittings directly on site in the mobile app (Figure 2). The recorded master data is then available in GBG Mannheim’s SAP® system. Furthermore, the tenant who is moving in or out automatically receives a record of the appointment via their choice of e-mail or post. The tenant is not the only one to benefit from this modern and convenient procedure – the employee responsible’s workload is also reduced considerably. In addition, easysquare mobile supports the work step for recording maintenance requirements through a separate form. If a tenant moves out of an apartment, the property manager responsible can select the appropriate measure as well as the estimated costs for required maintenance work from a selection catalogue. After the form is transferred, a maintenance notification is created in SAP® with the recorded information. This serves as the starting point for the subsequent ordering process in the GBG maintenance cockpit. All processes relating to maintenance, such as commissioning suppliers, are controlled in this cockpit. easysquare thus provides end-to-end support for the entire change of tenant process – from the residential property inspection to renovation and re-letting (Figure 1). In total, approximately 40 GBG employees now work successfully with the new easysquare solution.
Klaus Lange, IT / application consulting specialist
Special case: “revolving door” apartments
As a housing company with a large number of rental objects, eventually the topic of renovation and modernisation of occupied properties has to be addressed. GBG Mannheim thus decided to renovate individual properties as well as entire buildings and staircases in one go. To still offer tenants the best possible living conditions during this time, GBG Mannheim makes its vacant properties available to the tenants as replacement apartments. Some of this housing, known as “revolving door apartments”, is furnished. This makes it necessary to document the inventory, meter readings and condition of the revolving door apartments before and after temporary use to ensure a proper handover. This recording of the actual condition is now performed using easysquare mobile. Even meter readings in the current and the revolving door apartment are recorded when the tenants move in and out, ensuring that every tenant can be provided with a precise calculation of what they have used at the end of the year. The meter readings are automatically integrated into GBG Mannheim’s SAP® system as a measurement document and, from there, are submitted to the billing service providers.
Outlook and summary
GBG Mannheim currently works on the easysquare mobile platform with around 60 users and is already planning to mobilise further processes. For example, easysquare is to be used to implement key management: “Who issued which keys, when and how many of them?” Support for re-letting is also a possibility.
Klaus Lange has a positive view what has been achieved so far: “Our employees are extremely happy with the new iPad solution. Going to a property with a stack of papers that have to be sorted and filed at the end of the day or just an iPad are two entirely different experiences. The new solution is fun for the users and saves them a great deal of time.” The data quality is also significantly improved thanks to the easy option to record master data and current conditions. In addition, GBG Mannheim has reinforced its image as a modern and forward-looking company.