It’s hard for public housing authorities (PHAs) to effectively manage the complex regulations, multiple subsidy types, and day-to-day demands necessary for providing affordable housing. But, by using the best public housing authority software, these tasks can become much more manageable. The right software means focusing on automation and having access to the data and the tools you need, and it means building a well-connected community. This post will help guide agencies as they step through the process of selecting the best public housing authority software.
Establish Your Team
The first thing you want to do is put together a strong team that can flesh out the technology goals for your PHA. Make sure your team is comprised of key leaders from the areas that will have the most impact on the software. This should include project sponsors, subject matter experts, and some technical experts.
Utilization of the Software
Your project team should be able to pull together a chart or document that will detail the goals, risks, and milestones for the project. They should be able to determine the functionality of the PHA software and what you need it to do by determining your PHA’s daily tasks. This will play a significant role when it comes to finalizing software options.
The budget is an important factor and the PHA productivity software you select should be within your budget. That also includes the number of licenses you will need, so the project team should also determine who or how many people will need to use the software. Be sure to also consider implementation and training costs.
The project team should do due diligence when it comes to finalizing the list of software vendors. If the software doesn’t fit the needs of the PHA, that helps to eliminate that vendor from the long list. Compliance is key and well-designed software can go a long way in ensuring that your PHA is HUD compliant. Some things your project team may want to consider include:
- Are there different layers of compliance for HUD, Public Housing, and Tax Credit programs?
- Does the vendor have a dedicated HUD specialist?
- Is fully automated tenant certification processing for a variety of compliance programs included?
- Is there a waitlist module that deals with turnover processing and is it designed to ensure units are offered only to eligible households?
- How does a vendor secure a PHA’s data?
These are just some of the questions the team needs to ask. Some other important things to consider during the due diligence process are:
Length of Time in Business
It’s always good to know how long a vendor has been in business serving the affordable housing space. This aspect helps speak to the stability of the company and software. Another good item to evaluate is how many employees does the business has, and what are their roles. Maintenance and support are critical for any support purchase, so you’ll want to know how the vendor handles this responsibility.
You expect the public housing software you purchase to be around for a while. That means the software should continue to meet upcoming needs through regular updates. If the vendor has been around for a while, they’ve likely done a ton of software updates. Look at how their software has evolved over the years. That gives a good indication of their ability to keep up with the demands and needs of the industry.
Can the software under consideration do everything you’ve already determined you need it to do? If not, can it be upgraded or is there the ability for custom programming? What is the future outlook of the software? What is the vision for the software from the vendor’s perspective? You want to ensure the functionality of the software meets your intentions.
To know for sure if the software meets your intentions, ask for a demo of the product. You should be able to see most of the functionality working on their application. They should be able to walk you through some of the key functions you have implied you need. Using mock data, they should be able to generate the type of reports you need. If so, this is a good indication that the software can work for your company, even if it needs tweaking.
The important thing is to ensure the vendor knows your needs for your PHA. So be prepared during the demo to take good notes and ask the right questions. It’s up to them to show you they can meet them.
Ensure the vendor has a clear plan for training your staff that includes multiple modes for training. Documentation should be available in different forms — manuals, videos, web-based, etc. Set out clear goals for the training and ask to see the documentation before training. With hybrid situations being more of the norm, ensure that training takes place remotely and on-site to ensure the software functions as it should, regardless of where the staff is working from.
Looking for new public housing authority software? We’d love to chat with you. Schedule a demo today!