Sunday, 25th August 2019
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Low code application development powers Midland Heart digital transformation

Leading UK housing association uses OutSystems to transform tenants’ lives through interactive customer app.

OutSystems says that leading housing association Midland Heart is using its low-code platform to deliver a fast-tracked, two-year IT transformation strategy and rapidly develop applications to transform interactions with its 70,000 tenants.

Owning and maintaining 33,000 homes for 70,000 customers, Midland Heart is one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the Midlands. Operating in a sector that has been slow to embrace digitisation, Midland Heart wanted to take the lead and find innovative ways to improve internal efficiency, empower customers, and connect services through digital solutions. Harnessing the power of OutSystems, Midland Heart was able to build a customer app in just 12 weeks that has put power back into the hands of tenants and given valuable time back to staff.

“We have a vision to completely transform the tenant experience,” said Kathryn Downs, Director of Technology and Transformation at Midland Heart. “We want to create an easy, frictionless digital experience supporting everything from paying rent to reporting repairs. We knew we couldn't achieve this vision with traditional ERP systems so we turned to low-code to give us the speed and agility we need.”

In a world where a huge range of goods and services can be ordered online 24/7, Midland Heart was keen to follow suit and give tenants the opportunity to access its services instantly and on-demand.

Kathryn Downs explains, “The housing sector tends to operate in a traditional way, with customer communications happening by telephone or face to face. We saw an opportunity to provide a more fit-for-purpose service to customers who prefer to do their transactions online – ultimately empowering our customers and giving them more choice about how they engage with us.”

“A great example of this is that we used to receive a lot of calls from customers who wanted to find out how much rent they owed, and this took up a lot of our customer service team’s time. It was clear that providing an instant way for customers to check their balance would reduce calls to our customer hub and free up our operatives to spend time on more complex issues,” said Kathryn Downs.

Midland Heart specified its requirements for its proposed digital transformation programme and found that they mapped closely to the OutSystems capabilities. After some successful initial sessions, Midland Heart embarked on a six-month trial where they developed three applications:

●A customer app to enable tenants to manage their own rent statements and make payments

●A colleague app for field workers to report any issues with its properties

●A CRM platform that captures all customer contact information enabling issues to be tracked over time and resolved effectively

The build process for the customer app took just 12 weeks with the full build, testing, and launch being completed in five months. Kathryn Downs was delighted with the timeframe and the additional resource she was able to access.

She added, “It was really valuable to have access to OutSystems brand and user experience resources through its Customer Success programme. This effectively gave me an extra two virtual team members that I could access when needed.”

Midland Heart’s next app built using OutSystems will be released in September. The app will cover Midland Heart’s end-to-end lettings service and replace its existing housing portal. This means that not only will customers be able to search for available homes in a system similar to the leading property-finder apps, they will also be able to book a viewing and apply for a tenancy online.

“Midland Heart is a fantastic example of how an organisation in a sector that many believe is behind the digital curve can use OutSystems to redress that balance,” said Willem van Enter, Vice President EMEA at OutSystems. “Midland Heart has a healthy product roadmap of applications that it is planning over the next year that will radically transform its business and make it a digital pioneer in the sector.”

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