Implementing a financial management system (FMS) for your housing association is a vital step towards digital transformation.
Along with improving your day-to-day operations and enhancing relationships with your tenants, digital transformation is key in achieving cost efficiencies. In fact, according to a recent report by the Chartered Institute of Housing, 79% of housing providers see cost efficiencies as the driving factor for their digital transformation efforts.
There’s no doubt that associations can use some functionality from property management systems (PMS), but to make real strides in terms of improving operational efficiency, keeping costs down, and ultimately growing your organisation, you need to find and implement the right financial system.
We understand it could be daunting to know what to look for in finance software that meets all your requirements. So we’ve decided to lend our expertise in helping you see what is most important so you can make an informed decision.
First things first: assess your needs internally
When you’re making a decision about your next FMS, it is important to discuss high-level what you need to be included in the new system. You need to ask and answer the right questions, like:
- Will there be a need for organisation-wide reporting?
- Does the quality/quantity of data you’d be migrating need improving?
- Do you have multiple companies with which consolidation is required?
- Would you need to do an intercompany posting?
- Does your organisation process multiple currencies?
- What about day-to-day management reporting?
- Does your organisation have regulatory/statutory reporting requirements?
- Are there other areas you need to include — inventory, HR, warehouse management?
By assessing your needs internally and settling on what your core requirements are, you’re creating a ground plan that’ll guide you through making the right decision about the software to select.
Top 5 Most Frequent Considerations
Based on decades of FMS implementation experience, below is what we consider the top 5 most frequently demanded capabilities when an organisation is moving to a new system.
And this answers the question: what should you look for in a new financial management system?
Choose financial management software that lets you easily pull up data for practical use such as valuing your housing stock, identifying tenants at risk of rent arrears, among other things.
Access to the right information is always important for driving your association in the right direction. However, it takes time to collate and verify large amounts of data from property management systems.
A modern financial management solution such as SunSystems stores all relevant data in one place, making it possible to generate insightful reports in real-time. With useful information readily available at the click of a button, you’d be able to keep track of your association’s performance, identify areas for improvement, and quickly make data-driven decisions about key issues like identifying which developments or building types use the most resources.
Choose an FMS that can handle increasing requirements, including taking on new buildings, tenants, data, and users. This allows you to future-proof your organisation and avoid a situation where you outgrow the system a few years down the line.
Data from the National Housing Federation shows that housing associations built 45,604 new homes in England during 2018/19, representing a 10% increase from the previous year.
This means one thing: growth is sure to happen for organisations in the housing market. Sooner or later, your association may see changes and your FMS needs to have the capacity to scale up or down in response to these changes.
Full Integration with existing systems
Choose finance software that allows for flexible configuration and customisation in order to integrate with existing systems that your housing organisation currently uses.
As complex entities, some associations use multiple packages to manage different aspects of their operation. For example, an association that runs tenure integration or integrated housing would need a housing management system that supports mixed tenure development.
But much more than that, they’ll need finance software that can seamlessly connect with their housing management system in order to keep all the data and workflows in one place.
This helps in unifying processes and gives everyone access to the same information in a single source, improving data accuracy and supporting healthier workflows.
Choose an FMS that’s native to the cloud. Unlike traditional on-premise solutions, cloud-native financial software helps you save on costly in-house equipment and hardware and opens up new opportunities for flexible working conditions.
How? The typical workday for the average housing organisation involves teams being on the move — to carry out safety checks, repair properties, allocate buildings to new tenants.
By choosing a financial accounting system that is cloud-based, teams will have streamlined access to the financial information they need on-site — no matter the location — to efficiently serve your customers.
Cloud-native financial management software therefore provides high levels of availability, elastic scale capabilities, and the ability to meet user demands without traditional capacity planning exercises.
Ability to automate repetitive tasks
Choose financial accounting software that automates manual and repetitive accounting tasks.
Housing organisations process thousands of housing related accounting operations such as invoice approvals, compensation claims, and rent collections. Not only are these operations and transactions costly, but they are also time-consuming and labour-intensive.
Getting technology to do the job means that you’ll be able to move work faster and eliminate human errors, and that staff can focus more on human-oriented tasks or even on strategies that can move your organisation closer to your goals.
Find All the Benefits You Need in One Tool
Housing associations often struggle with sophisticated accounting operations and outdated finance systems. Your organisation can enjoy immeasurable benefits from an upgrade to a modern, cloud-based financial management system built for today’s business.
As a user-friendly and workflow-driven financial management system, Infor SunSystems offers powerful and innovative solutions that can benefit any housing organisation, including all the solutions discussed above. For instance, without advanced technical knowledge, you can easily generate real-time reports on revenue and expenses by property, unit, tenant, project, employee, cost centre, or any other definable analysis dimension.