The future of vacant apartment refurbishment – mobile and digital
A modern housing company with a long tradition
DOGEWO21 is the third largest communal housing provider in North Rhine-Westphalia and manages around 16,400 flats in Dortmund. It views itself as a modern housing company with a long tradition that distinguishes itself by applying digital solutions while consistently remaining close to customers and tenants. The company’s guiding principle is to always provide affordable, high-quality housing for people in all stages of life. The long, constructive partnership with PROMOS began with the introduction of SAP® in 2002. Since then, the two companies have implemented many other projects successfully.
How does a digital pioneer go about digitalisation?
For DOGEWO21, optimising workflows means avoiding media discontinuities and reducing or, ideally, classifying interfaces. The company places great importance on measuring and evaluating processes and solutions, as this is the only way to optimally control workflows. The priority is always communication tenants, which is why the company can boast above-average tenant satisfaction. However, communication with service providers is also continuously being optimised through new channels. Mobile access to data enables employees to work flexibly and efficiently. One prerequisite for this is that as many systems as possible are linked. Together with PROMOS, DOGEWO21 has integrated solutions to achieve these objectives, including the safety precaution module for caretakers, the tenants’ portal and iModa, a solution for digital residential property inspections and handovers. Now, as a logical continuation of this process, a mobile solution for vacant apartment refurbishment is set to be introduced.
The advantages of mobile vacant apartment refurbishment
Refurbishment of apartments during the course of a change of tenant is one of the most important processes in day-to-day residential management. Correspondingly, making this core process digital and free from media discontinuities produces many advantages. Major German cities, in particular, have very few vacant residential properties. As a sustainable housing company, DOGEWO21 aims to refurbish vacant apartments as efficiently as possible, allowing them to hand the dwellings over to prospective tenants searching for accommodation as quickly as possible.
With the new solution, the housing company benefits from short processing times and maximum transparency. Preparation, release and commissioning of vacant apartment refurbishments has been fully digitalised. What’s more, key process steps have been automated, meaning employees are supported digitally throughout the entire process. As a result, they benefit from huge time savings thanks to increased efficiency and an improved overview. All relevant data can be viewed at any time from within the easysquare workflow process. It is always possible to see who is currently working on which process step. As a result, processes can be controlled more easily, which is particularly beneficial in the event of capacity shortages.
Gero Scheebaum, head of the technology department at DOGEWO21
Rough planning on site
When the housing company receives a termination for a rental object and it is clear from the current furnishing features that modernisation is necessary, rough planning begins. This often takes place while the dwelling is still occupied, so that modernisation of the apartment and the search for a new tenant can begin as quickly as possible. A process that was previously completed using a pen and paper now takes place digitally. The benefits are obvious. Photos can be added directly and drawings assigned automatically. Nothing is lost, all insights are saved clearly and digitally and are then available directly in the SAP® system.
How exactly does this work? Employees can call up the necessary technical details and trades for the rough planning on site using a mobile terminal device. This could include painting work or tiling, for example. Various options are available for selection in this step. The menu design has a simple and clear design so that it can be used quickly during the on-site customer appointment (Figure 1). At the end of the rough planning, the insights are sent to the ERP system as a form. However, simple does not mean simplistic! Behind each option there are detailed service items in accordance with the framework contract. These come into play for the detailed calculation.
Figure 1: All the important information for rough planning, such as technical details and the trades for vacant apartment refurbishment, can be called up using a tablet (left). Clicking on the tab takes the user to the options for the individual trades (right).
Detailed calculation at the desk
“You can calculate an entire measure with just a few clicks” – that’s how Carlotta Martin-Bullmann, head of Team Service at DOGEWO21, describes the detailed calculation using the mobile vacant apartment refurbishment. Previously, this work was done manually using Excel spreadsheets. The modern recording is not only simpler and faster, but also less susceptible to errors. But how does it work, exactly? The detailed calculation takes place in the SAP® environment and the site manager then receives it via the global work basket as a task to be completed. All the technical data can be found in the process header. All the steps to be performed in the course of the mobile vacant apartment refurbishment are visible on the left-hand side. As soon as a process step has been completed, it is marked as such. As a result, it is always quickly clear how much of the overall workflow has been completed (Figure 2).
The data that was roughly calculated on site is shown in detail under “Jump to Services” (Figure 3). These are the service items in accordance with the framework contract. The solution does not map the entire contract, but only those items that are relevant and required in the course of modernisation. The system performs the majority of the detailed calculation. The user simply needs to adjust the quantity specifications. The order values update dynamically so that all processors can see everything at a glance. All details relating to the service items can be called up in the system and clearly seen on a single screen. Compared with the previous Excel spreadsheet, the new solution saves DOGEWO21 a lot of time and provides a clearer overview. This is particularly beneficial for new employees, as they no longer need to compile the required data from various different sources.
Figure 2: In the SAP®-system, all the technical data can be seen in the blue process header. Processors can see all the process steps in the bar on the left. Once a process step is complete, it turns green and is marked with a tick.
Figure 3: Clicking on “Jump to Services” brings up the menu in which the detailed service items are displayed in accordance with the framework contract.
Important follow-up steps for finalisation
In addition to the two main steps of vacant apartment refurbishment, the solution also maps important follow-up steps. Following the detailed calculation, the customer advisor receives a task in the global work basket and is informed that the new rental rate needs to be calculated. Once this has happened, the person in charge of the rental process receives the next step in their work basket for processing and can check the measure and approve or reject it. During the automatic creation of furnishing features, all features that are already assigned to the rental object are stored as well as the new features that need to be created. The system automatically detects which furnishing features still need to be added based on the calculated service item.
The project progression and future plans
The year after iModa, the digital solution for residential property inspection and handover, had been accepted and handed over, the idea for digital vacant apartment refurbishment was suggested. The concept had to be planned down to the last detail as this was an extremely complex process that involved almost every department of the large housing company. Next came the calculation and commissioning of the PROMOS team, which implemented the system. Finally, everything was finished and DOGEWO21 could go live with the new, ultra-modern system. This immediately demonstrates that the housing company is always working on new ideas and seeking methods to optimise processes. Gero Scheebaum, head of the technology department at DOGEWO21, summarises the project as follows: “For us, the important factors were early integration of the technology as well as classified and standardised recording of the service scope. As a result, we now benefit from a fully digitalised process as well as the elimination of transport routes and a transparent calculation.” We have been working successfully with PROMOS for more than 20 years, so we are certain that more exciting and pioneering products will be implemented in the future. The PROMOS team is also pleased about the successful completion of the project and all our shared undertakings.
As Ralf Schröter, Expert Consultant and project manager on the PROMOS side, puts it:
“Converting to digital solutions goes far beyond simply increasing efficiency. The focus on seamless communication with tenants and service providers is reflected in the high satisfaction among users. The continuously progressing integration of systems allows employees to work flexibly and efficiently. Ultimately, the linking of technology and tradition shows that digital innovations do not have to replace human contact.
In an era of change and technological process, it is more important than ever to have a strong partner to rely on. Extensive experience in SAP® consulting and implementation in the real-estate sector can provide valuable insights and support when it comes to finding individual paths towards digitalisation.
After all, it’s not just about moving with the times. We also want to preserve the principles and values of our company in a new era of real estate management.”