Implementation Best Practices for MyTenantPayments® 

MyTenantPayments®

MyTenantPayments®, the latest portal within Emphasys’ MyHousing suite, allows PHAs to accept online payments from their tenants. Whether they are paying with a credit card, debit card, or ACH, tenants are able to quickly and conveniently pay their PHA bills through a secure online platform.     

Wondering what it takes to implement this powerful and time-saving portal? Here are some best practices and other considerations for implementing MyTenantPayments® quickly and efficiently. In fact, PHAs that approach the implementation in the recommended manner are capable of getting the system live in a couple of weeks.

Implementation Best Practices for MyTenantPayments® 

Roll Out MyTenantPayments® Incrementally

Change can be difficult for staff and tenants alike especially when it comes to a new bill-paying process. Therefore, we recommend selecting a single development at your PHA as a test site. Limiting the rollout will limit the number of questions your staff will receive from tenants regarding the system. Once you are confident in this soft rollout, around two months later, you will be in a great position to open it up to your other developments or more tenants. 

Convenience Fees or Not

MyTenantPayments® allows the PHA to have complete control over the online payment process including whether to include convenience fees or not. As a PHA you should decide ahead of time if you are going to charge for using the service or not. For example, credit and debit cards can charge a certain percentage per transaction and ACH a different amount. PHAs even have the option of capping these fees for their tenants. Have this discussion with PHA Management ahead of time so you are ready with an answer during implementation.

Professional Services Steps In

Once you have your test tenants/development selected and have agreed on convenience fees, Emphasys staff can come in and work with the PHA to configure the system. This includes working with the PHA to get the sub-merchant setup, configuring and naming drawers in the accounting system for the online payments, and then linking the drawers to the Portal in the backend of the system. Finally, Emphasys works with their customers so they are comfortable using the MyTenantPayments® interface. PHA staff quickly learn how the administrative side of the system works so they can assist tenants who may have questions or need a little help understanding how to input payments. 

Monitor Data and Repeat

Once MyTenantPayments® is live at one of a PHA’s small developments, staff can easily monitor the flow of payments and use reporting to ensure there are no anomalies in the data moving through the system. Once the PHA has a comfort level with the portal, they can easily replicate the implementation and go-live steps and repeat the MyTenantPayments® rollout at any number of other developments.

Ready to see MyTenantPayments® in action? Contact us to schedule a demo today!

 

National Fair Housing Month | Public Housing News

National Fair Housing Month

April is National Fair Housing Month— a month to commemorate the passing of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, expanding on previous acts to prohibit discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of a house based on race, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or family status. Title VIII of the Act is known as the Fair Housing Act. The act furthers the beliefs of Civil Rights icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The theme for National Fair Housing Month 2021 is Fair Housing: More than Just Words. This year’s theme reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to advance housing equity and the importance of raising awareness about our right as Americans to fair housing.

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge said, “Fair Housing Month is a time to recommit to our nation’s obligation to ensure that everyone has equal access to safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, housing discrimination still exists, from individuals and families being denied a place to call home because of the color of their skin or where they come from, to landlords refusing to allow persons with disabilities to keep assistance animals, to individuals being denied a place to live because of who they love.”

Fudge continued by saying that fair housing is more important than ever during these times of unprecedented crisis. 

Every April, HUD is joined by local communities, fair housing advocates and organizations nationwide to commemorate Fair Housing Month by hosting activities to highlight HUD’s fair housing enforcement efforts, enhance public awareness of fair housing rights, and emphasize the need to end housing discrimination.

Fair Housing Month is a reminder that the principle of fair housing is not just in terms of state and federal law, but it is also a fundamental human right. America is made up of people of all races, classes, backgrounds, religions, and abilities, and our housing system should reflect that.

Ways to Commemorate Fair Housing Month

We’re proud to partner with so many incredible PHA’s that are working to make housing fairer every day. If you’re looking for a software vendor to better support you in these efforts, schedule a free consultation today!

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Accountants On Call for PHAs: What to Do When Your Finance Manager Leaves

There’s never a good time to lose your CFO/DOF/Finance Manager. Finance Managers handle everything from reporting requirements and audit cycles to coordinating the day-to-day activities of a PHA’s Finance Department.  They are a valuable part of your management team, providing the information you want and need to make the right decisions for your agency, your staff and/or your tenants.

The departure of the Finance Manager leaves a gaping hole. Tasks that will go undone range from supervising the daily fiscal operations of the agency, including oversight of accounting, financial reporting, audits, budget administration, revenue collection, inventory management, payroll processing, non-profit tax returns and funds investing, to providing you with information and analysis for decision-making.  Finance Managers also likely complete aPHA’s Operating Subsidy Calculation, and Unaudited and Audited FDS and tracks RNP on a monthly-basis, requesting HUD-held funds when needed.  Depending on the size of your PHA, your Finance Manager also has a significant list of “Other Roles as Assigned.”

CONSEQUENTLY, it takes some time to find the right person.  You want to find that person who is capable of not only heading your Finance Team but also being a leader in your Management Team.

Because your Finance Manager is so essential to the success of your PHA, perhaps your best strategy as you look for the right person is to use an Interim Finance Manager.  Our Accountant On Call (AOC) service may be perfect for you.  The AOC sets aside a number of hours for our experts to help, and you use as many (or as few) hours as you need while you search for your permanent Finance Manager.

Emphasys Consulting can help you “bridge that gap.”  We provide fee accounting, audit/review support and other management consulting services to PHAs of all sizes, and our strength lies in our range of experience and depth of industry knowledge.  Our team consists of focused, customer-sensitive professionals whose specialties include certified public accountants, IREM and NCHM certified managers and experts who understand the “what, why and how” of effective PHA management.

  • We know and understand the complex rules and regulations of HUD.
  • We know effective and efficient PHA operations and management.
  • We know technology.

Perhaps short-term Accountant on Call help is just what you need in the interim. Contact us for a no-obligation assessment of your needs.

What to Look for in a PHA Software Vendor

PHA Software Vendor

The Public Housing sector has benefited from software vendors offering solutions with the goal of streamlining and automating processes. But beware, not every PHA software vendor is the same. Effective PHA software is integrative, comprehensive, and simple to use, creating efficient solutions for public housing authorities. 

There are a number of reputable PHA software vendors to choose from. For software solutions that will best meet your needs, you need to understand exactly what you should look for when searching for in a PHA software vendor.

Essential PHA Software Vendor Features

Due to the nature of public housing authority software, there are certain features that you’ll want from your vendor. These features help to ensure that your PHA has effective, efficient, seamless processes. 

Customer Care

When it comes to PHA software, the last thing you want is to be left on your own. You need to know that you’re working with a vendor that provides great customer care support behind the scenes to assist and support you as you utilize the public housing authority solutions. 

Look for a PHA software vendor that is keenly focused on ensuring their clients receive efficient, accurate, and actionable support. By finding a vendor that offers top-notch customer support, you’ll know that you’re not on your own. You’ll have someone to walk you through any questions or troubles that arise, keeping your software, and processes, running smoothly. 

Data Conversion

In the Public Housing sector, seamless data conversion is essential. With any PHA software that you use, you’ll need to know that your data is secure and will be properly stored and converted through any migration. 

Your PHA software vendor should focus intently on effective data conversion. This means that they will invest a significant amount of time and money in migration, as well as dedicate an expert team of professionals. Knowing that data conversion will be accurate, secure, and effective is an essential component for your peace of mind when it comes to your PHA software. 

Financial & Management Consulting

The public housing authority has one main goal – serving the families in their community and meeting their needs. It’s important that every PHA is set up for success to assist their community. 

When it comes to finding a PHA software vendor, you’ll want to make sure that they have optimized their financial management service operations and resources in order to best serve your community’s families. This means your PHA software vendor will provide guidance and consulting to actively and effectively serve your community. 

Professional Services

When choosing a PHA software vendor, you will want to look for a company that offers implementation and training services. Your software is a necessary tool for public housing, however, without the resources needed to properly implement and use it, you’ll be missing out on the features you need. 

Make sure your vendor offers a number of professional services to assist you, including cohesive implementation and training. You’ll be able to effectively utilize your software to streamline your processes and serve families. 

Emphasys Software – PHA Software Vendor 

Not every PHA software vendor has the features you need for success. Take the time to find a high-quality vendor that will meet your needs and help you serve the families in your community. 

Emphasys Software is committed to serving the public housing sector. With high-quality PHA software solutions, we provide customer care, data conversion, financial and management consulting, and the professional services you need. 

SCHEDULE A CALL WITH EMPHASYS TODAY!

Hosted Software: Working from Home in the Age of Covid

Hosting is a good option to enable your staff to continue working safely.

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Avoiding a ransomware attack

Don’t let your data get held hostage: Avoiding a ransomware attack.

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What’s your emergency preparedness plan?

Emphasys is positioned to help PHAs plan for and recover from disasters and emergencies in a variety of ways.

Learn & Network at Emphasys Users Connect 2019

Learn & Network at Emphasys Users Connect 2019

Every year, Emphasys Software hosts an educational user conference designed for our PHA clients. The Users Connect conference attracts a broad range of affordable housing professionals and includes topics such as product training and education, housing program management, agency performance, reporting fundamentals and best practices. The Users Connect conference is not only a great opportunity for clients to learn more about our products, but also a great opportunity for them to network with other housing authorities from around the country.

Other benefits of our user conference include:

  • Change is always in the air. Learn best practices on RAD conversions, executive reporting, and the like through more than 50 key sessions.
  • We all need to stay up-to-date with HUD updates, right? Find out what HUD is up to, and how it impacts your agency along with software updates and how to ensure you are compliant.
  • Engage technology in ways never thought of! Learn about exciting new products and existing product updates, and how they will save your PHA time and money.
  • Personal interaction has never meant so much. Network with your peers and discover the creative ways they use technology to solve business challenges.
  • One-on-one is invaluable. Pick the brains of key development and support staff. You might even solve some outstanding technical challenges!
  • Fun group events with food, drinks, and activities to wrap up a day of learning. Downtime between and after sessions to enjoy hotel amenities and local attractions!

This year’s Users Connect will be held at the TradeWinds Island Grand in St. Pete Beach, Florida from November 3 – 6, 2019. Registration fees are $765 (early bird pricing) and rooms start at $189 per night.

Registration is now open and more details, including a full agenda, will be available at our website soon.

Increase Productivity, Efficiency and Flexibility with Mobile Work Orders

Increase Productivity, Efficiency and Flexibility with Mobile Work Orders

Long gone are the days of filling out paper forms in the field and then bringing them back to the office to be keyed into the computer system. Your staff's time is more valuable than this and business efficiency demands a better solution. Thankfully the technology hardware to facilitate this increase in efficiency is pretty much in everyone's hands already – the smartphone.

At Emphasys Software, we heard customers talking about needing to get their PHA maintenance department teams out into the field more and to spend less time writing things down or keying information into computers. So, some years ago, Emphasys Software developed the Work Order Mobile Touch app, now available for Android phones, to meet this customer need using smartphone technology staff were already familiar with.

The Work Order Mobile Touch app fully integrates with Emphasys' Elite Work Order system and allows maintenance staff to enter time and materials for their work order tasks while in the field and on the go. The app reduces the overall time dedicated to mobile work orders with paperless processing and requires less than an hour of training for maintenance personnel. The Work Order Mobile Touch app stores data locally and then auto-syncs to the Emphasys Elite system upon wireless connection.

Since the introduction of our Work Order Mobile Touch product, our clients have reported being able to save approximately 10 minutes per work order. For our clients who process 7,000 work orders yearly, that's nearly 30 weeks they save in a year.

So what can a housing authority do with all this extra time?

For starters, an agency can establish better control over closing work orders in a timely manner, which will in turn increase a PHA's Work Order Indicator Scores. PHAs can also spend more time on preventive maintenance, which will reduce unit turnaround times.

 

Download the brochure below to learn more about our Work Order Mobile Touch solution.

The brochure will be sent automatically to your email.

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    Is SOC 2 Compliance Important for PHAs?

    Is SOC 2 Compliance Important for PHAs?

    As a trusted technology advisor to hundreds of top performing Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), Emphasys takes information security very seriously.

    To formalize and quantify a company's internal controls related to information security, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) developed a compliance requirement called SOC 2. SOC 2 is designed for those providers who store customer data in the cloud, which means any affordable housing technology company storing customer data must meet SOC 2 compliance requirements in order to minimize risk and exposure to a PHA's data.

    The SOC 2 requirement is more than just a technical audit. It establishes that a company follows strict information security procedures and policies, including the security, availability, processing, integrity, and confidentiality of customer data. Further, being SOC 2 certified assures a client that information security at the provider is in line with the special needs of today's cloud requirements.

    Be sure to ask your housing software vendor if they are SOC 2 compliant when shopping for your PHA's next business management software solution. Mitigating risks is a very important part of running a PHA and partnering with a vendor who is SOC2 certified will ensure that you are working with an organization that complies with all of the Trust Service Principles of security, availability, confidentiality, processing integrity, and privacy.

    Emphasys is pleased to report that we are wrapping up our SOC 2 certification and expect to be SOC 2 compliant shortly.

     

    Not sure what to look for in a hosting provider? Download our “Five Questions to Ask Any Hosting Provider” whitepaper to ensure you make the right choice.

    The Whitepaper will be sent automatically to your email.