Community Housing sector set for finance technology revolution

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The community housing sector is facing an unprecedented increase in demand in the wake of COVID-19. To manage this flux, Community housing providers (CHPs) must invest in technology to automate manual processes, enable data-led decision making, and effectively report on outcomes.

Already we are seeing increased government funding, with VIC pledging $5.3 billion and NSW upping its total social housing budget to $4.4 billion. We expect these developments to continue over the next few years, as state governments prepare for the increasing demand for community and affordable housing as cities grow in an increasingly unpredictable economic environment.

The Australian Council of Social Service surveyed community sector workers in September 2020 and reported the following changes from respondents since March 2020:

  • 61% reported an increased overall level of demand for their service
  • 58% observed decreases in the numbers of volunteers actively engaged in their service
  • 41% said their service’s capacity to meet contracted deliverables had decreased

Demand is rising, pressure on staff is at an all-time high and there is money on the table for the most capable, prepared CHPs who can prove their value.

How can technology help?

In a recent Experteq report, Margaret Maljkovic, COO of Link Housing made the following statement in relation to how technology could help CHPs address challenges posed by government changes.

“Good quality and accessible technology enables improved services, efficiency, flexibility and meeting contractual reporting requirements…[Technology] should free our staff from processing tasks and enable them to focus more on relationships and service delivery. Technology can help us more effectively manage our assets, show value for money and report on outcomes."

Increase efficiency by removing manual processes

With uncertainty as the only constant in the community housing sector right now, the first step is to create time to think strategically. So, why is your Finance team still handling data manually every month? It’s 2021. Let the computers deal with that and remove the threat of human error resulting in unpleasant, avoidable surprises.

By extracting and aggregating data from disparate systems, and automating reporting processes, CALUMO gives Finance back this time, allowing them to spend it strategically analysing the data and ensuring the organisation has timely, accurate information to make the right moves.

Staying agile and flexible to cater for changing markets

“The only certainty is that after the initial [government] changes, there will be more changes. Since client support, including housing, requires governments budgetary appropriation, there will always be amendments to priorities that will impact on the industry,” said Tony Smith, CFO, Wentworth Community Housing in the same Experteq report.

Visibility of the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow, along with regular forecasting, and the ability to model different scenarios for growth over a longer time frame are all crucial for success in a rapidly changing community housing sector.

CALUMO makes this a breeze, allowing business users to slice and dice data against any scenario they choose. Perhaps the government announces more funding or pandemic flares create new housing restrictions. CALUMO enables your finance team to change their assumptions, create what-if scenarios and share them with the business as fast as the community housing landscape changes.

Proving value is essential to secure funding

“The measurement of outcomes will be an increasing focus point. We need to know that what we are doing is making a difference and works well for all our clients,” Margaret Maljkovic, COO of Link Housing.

To prove long-term sustainability of services and secure additional funding, CHPs must have strong evidence of value, based on historic trends. There is also a pressing need to forecast rent rolls and property costs more efficiently as housing portfolios grow.

CALUMO retains your historic data after integration, so all forecasting is backed by long-term trends. Additionally, every report is updated in real-time and accessible through any web browser, so everyone in the organisation can get the financial information they need, when they need it. This enables executives to confidently communicate early and often with external stakeholders to increase understanding, show value, and build organisational credibility.

The next few years present a unique challenge and opportunity for Australia’s community housing sector. CALUMO is helping CHPs rapidly increase finance process automation, analytics and planning capacity to maximise their potential as government focus and support for affordable housing continues to rises.

If you’re in the community housing sector and want to prepare for growth, then reach out to CALUMO on: +61 2 8985 7777 (AUS), +1 214-387-6030 (USA) or info@calumo.com.