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May, 1 2007
Carl Greene, executive director, Philadelphia Housing Authority | as told to Colin Beasty
Philadelphia Housing Authority's New Lease on CRM
Tell us about your organization. We're the largest landlord in the state of Pennsylvania--we're the fourth largest public housing authority in the country and the largest in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We provide affordable housing to those who can least afford it, and rent subsidies to low-income residents who live in privately owned apartments. In total, we provide housing assistance to about 85,000 people--there's another 100,000 people on our waiting list. Besides managing and renting apartments, we also build low-income housing for sale at the rate of 6,000 new homes a year.
What problems were you facing? We're a federally funded organization, and in an era of declining federal propagations and budgeting, it's important that we operate and track our operations effectively so we can continue to reduce costs. We have a lot of stakeholders at the city, state, and federal level to report to, so we needed a suite solution to automate and track our operations across the board, including HR, financial management, supply chain, and CRM. Previous to the PeopleSoft Enterprise Support implementation, customers had to call numerous phone numbers with high wait times. We had no system to track or manage customer and partner inquiries, which includes contractors and third-party apartment managers. Because we didn't have an integrated HR and field service system, we couldn't track maintenance employee productivity or get an accurate fix on response times for maintenance requests.
How did the implementation go? The implementation has been terrific. We started the implementation in 2002. A new HR and financial management system was the first priority, so we implemented the PeopleSoft Enterprise system for human resources, financial management, and supply chain management. This allowed us to track our human and financial capital. The next logical step was to implement a point-of-service field service system for CRM. We started implementing PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM a little over a year ago. We started with the field service system, which was followed by IVR and now marketing functionality that allows us to do outbound marketing for our housing. Unlike most companies, we didn't go out and hire our own system integrator. We set up our own project management team and employed Oracle Consulting to help with installation and rollout. Oracle Consulting, combined with our own in-house expertise, did a great job making the transition a smooth one. It's also worked wonders for new releases, which both before and after the merger, were about once a year. We started in 2001 with version 7.2. We're now on version 9.0, with further upgrades planned.
What have been the main rewards? We reduced our staff by 50 percent over the past five years. In 2001, we had approximately 2,600 employees; today we stand at 1,250. Despite the loss, we're providing better service to more people. We now serve 36 percent more families than we did in years past. Thanks to the integration between PeopleSoft CRM Field Service and our HR system, PHA can capture, report, and analyze financial data such as the actual costs of time, labor, and materials for performing maintenance work on thousands of housing units throughout the city. It's helped us minimize costs, reduce inventory shrinkage, and track maintenance employee productivity. As a result, we've seen customer satisfaction soar and response times for maintenance requests plummet. The new financial management system provides us with up-to-date insight on financial information and allows PHA to generate reports on operation, supply chain management, housing management, and other operational areas. It's also streamlined our reporting operations for state and federal stakeholders.
What are your plans? Now we're looking at BI and analytics to provide us with more real-time feedback about our business process and operations. We're always looking to reduce operating costs and expenditures, and to fine-tune our operations. Analytics will help us do that.
5 Fast Facts
>> AGE OF THE INITIATIVE? 1 year old >> WHO WAS INVOLVED? Myself, the CIO, program director, project management director, and our quality insurance director. >> BEST IDEA? Integrating our field service system with our HR system. >> BIGGEST SURPRISE? That we were actually able to operate with 50 percent fewer workers yet improve our customer service. >> BIGGEST CRM MISTAKE MADE? It's impossible to put a scope on a CRM project, in terms of time and money spent. You have to remain flexible.
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