Success Story

The mobile change of tenant – a sustainable solution at HOWOGE

As a major German rental company, the federal-state owned HOWOGE Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH has a responsibility to combat the social and environmental, but also economical, challenges of the modern era with sustainable concepts. Against the background of constantly increasing demand for housing, this task includes consistently expanding the inventory to meet demand. Intelligent and efficient management is an important aspect here, and is the focus of HOWOGE’s digital strategy.
Unternehmenszentrale der HOWOGE Wohnungsbaugesellschaft mbH

The SAP® system with the latest S/4HANA® standard that was successfully brought into operation with PROMOS on 1 January 2018 is at the core of all business processes. To connect work steps on site in the apartments to the new ERP system, mobile devices with easysquare mobile are used for a wide range of tasks, such as defect reporting or safety precautions.

The digitisation of the change of tenant process was particularly important to HOWEGE. After all, an end-to-end communication chain in which no data is lost is advantageous for both sides – the tenant and the housing company. Let’s take a look from the tenant’s perspective

The mobile apartment handover as a win/win situation

In the course of moving, tenants have to plan and complete numerous tasks. They have boxes to pack, transport to organise and paperwork to manage. Then there are the handovers of the new and old apartments. Since these are all things that are not part of day-to-day life, many people feel unsure about the process. The condition of the apartment needs to be precisely recorded, as this is used as the basis if the tenant later moves out.

Compared with paper-based documentation, the apartment handover via app has clear benefits for both tenants and landlords. The future tenant’s data is already stored in the app, having been imported automatically from HOWOGE’s SAP® system. This saves time for both parties and prevents typos or spelling mistakes. If any personal data needs to be added or updated, this can be done directly in the app while on site. For example, a mobile phone number can be added or an e-mail address changed. The condition of the apartment is then recorded based on predefined items in the app. At the tap of a finger, the user can set check marks against such items as whether fittings are intact or there is an oven in the apartment. Moreover, any defects or particular features of the apartment can be precisely recorded using the integrated photo function and if necessary documented with a supplementary description text.

The meter readings for heating and water are also recorded in a corresponding form field in the app. HOWOGE’s mobile change of tenant feature also provides the option of having a declaration regarding the takeover of apartment furnishings from the previous tenant integrated in the mobile handover log. Finally, the tenant and the landlord confirm the apartment handover through a digital signature in the app. The handover log is automatically sent to the new tenant by e-mail and at the same time reintegrated into HOWOGE’s SAP® system. Overall, the digital procedure significantly increases the data quality while also considerably reducing the amount of paper used. Now let’s take a look at the project and company side of things.

Informationstechnologie und Immobilien (IT&I) Ausgabe Nr. 33 / April 2022

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An immense task

At the same that SAP S/4HANA® went live, HOWOGE also launched the mobile change of tenant with easysquare. It was important to all those involved in the project that everything work should smoothly from the start, but this was certainly not guaranteed. The change of tenant is an extremely complex process that is part of everyday business for companies like HOWOGE with more than 62,000 residential units.

During the design phase and initial workshops, the decision was made to implement the change of tenant process in one go on a key date, rather than in stages. This meant that extensive and time-consuming tests and targeted training sessions were required. HOWOGE also involved all the affected departments in the design process at an early stage. Using the information from house caretakers and customer advisors, it was possible to create a precisely tailored, practical solution. Intensive training of key users, who were then able to transfer their knowledge to the operatives, was another success factor for the project. “Thanks to our conscientious approach, we could ultimately be sure that the solution would work and our employees could use it without any problems. And this is exactly what happened,” says Daniela Hauel, project manager at HOWOGE, explaining the approach taken in the project.

Mieterwechselprozess mit easysquare mobile im Einsatz bei der HOWOGE

Figure 2: The mobile change of tenant process – the data regarding the residential property inspection and preliminary acceptance is initially prepared in SAP® with the help of easysquare workflow and then automatically transferred to the easysquare app.

The easysquare change of tenant process – an individual matter

The solution implemented at HOWOGE is based on the standard easysquare change of tenant process. Already successfully tested and in use at many other customers, this forms the basis for extensive custom modifications. This approach minimises subsequent errors during live operation. A special feature of the implementation in this project was that the entire thing was based on technical master data from HOWOGE instead of the usual RE master data. This was an advantage for the process because, among other things, technical master data (functional locations, modules) is maintained in more detail and therefore allows the actual inventory to be represented and directly adjusted during an inspection. Certain company-specific characteristics and individual requests from HOWOGE were also incorporated into the process. For instance, an option to display the floor plan in the app during the apartment handover was added and it is also possible to use a photo function to include a takeover declaration for fittings added by the previous tenant. It was also important to HOWOGE that the dual-control principle could be used for the reintegration of data into the SAP® system. “Here, we installed a kind of double floor for ourselves. If an employee records data on site, somebody else always take another look at it. This prevents incorrect data from being unintentionally imported into the system,” says Ms Hauel, explaining the reasoning behind this security provision.

Always on the go

To date[1], the easysquare app has been used to hand over almost 6,000 apartments on around 280 mobile devices. The project group was convinced from the very start that they had done the right thing in deciding to make the process mobile.

The high degree of automation and the improved data quality thanks to the reintegration discussed above, in particular, are key benefits that the company can no longer imagine doing without. “With the help of this solution, we can save around 100,000 sheets of paper per year and complete the apartment handovers up to 50 percent faster than before,” a happy Ms Hauel says about the long-term improvement in the company. She then adds: “Of course, we are still not finished with our deliberations. We will pinpoint further potential optimisations and implement these one step at a time.” For instance, a provider connection is planned that will allow meter readings to be transferred automatically. The processor-controlled CRM workflow processes are also being expanded and other mobile processes are already waiting in the wings – for example, vendor evaluation, a systematic means of evaluating HOWOGE’s suppliers.

  1. As of 8 July 2019
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