Housing Ombudsman Service
Workpro provides flexible complaint handling that adapts to the needs of a growing team.
Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) handles complaints about registered providers of social housing. They’re independent from the government, but sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) – so transparency and consistency are crucial.
HOS deals with a lot of complaints; demand for formal investigations increased by 80% between 2015-16 and 2019-20. This means their team has grown too, from around 40 users to over 100 in 2021, spread across 10 casework teams.
They need an intuitive complaint handling system that’s flexible enough to scale up and manage changing regulation. HOS use Workpro for all casework, with the system under constant review as they seek continuous improvement.
The system needed to evolve
In 2020, HOS created a new directorate tasked with ensuring casework quality and promoting positive change in the wider housing sector. This meant big changes in structure and approach.
On top of this, they needed to reflect the Ombudsman’s updated remit which included the power to conduct systemic investigations beyond individual complaints or landlords. So the system needed to hold case data in a way that supported big-picture investigations.
Finally, an initiative to publish all ombudsman decisions required new functionality within the Workpro system, as well as the ability to interact with their website.
Working together to find solutions
We worked closely with the HOS team to implement these process changes and to make it easier for the team to extract data, including new casework screens and workflow stages. HOS also moved to our Workpro Cloud to take advantage of our fast, secure and reliable hosting. A process of development and testing made sure HOS had everything they needed in place.
Chris Harrison, Performance and Business Information Analyst at HOS, said:
A truly collaborative relationship, we have monthly service meetings with HOS to highlight any areas for improvement – including use of a 360-degree scorecard system. Chris added:
Easy and flexible
Workpro makes it easy for users to achieve what they need. It’s quick and intuitive with minimal training, and has a range of functionality that helps the HOS team save time.
For example, users can view exception reporting in Workpro – these reports highlight important information people are not filling in. Caseworkers can then fix these gaps without being prompted by their managers. Additionally, HOS use the SQL reporting services within Workpro to have regular reports emailed to managers automatically.
Flexibility for new data is important too. When HOS wanted to start recording any issues related to Covid in 2020-21, they were able to add a subcategory in no time at all.
The ability to edit forms throughout the system is also proving extremely useful. The admin area in Workpro gives HOS the freedom to make system changes themselves – from case categories to field names, target dates or user permissions.
Something as simple as adding a label to a field to signpost users to the information required is invaluable in saving repeat work.
The final word
Workpro is an integral part of day-to-day life at HOS. For Chris: “Workpro empowers us to do the things we need to do as an organisation and as individuals. It mirrors our approach to casework. You are free to use your own initiative while keeping to the things that have to be done. It’s so flexible but we can really funnel use of the system through validation and field labels. Workpro allows us to be as consistent and directive as we want to be.
About Housing Ombudsman Service
The Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) is set up by law to look at complaints about the housing organisations that are registered with us. Their service is free, independent and impartial.
HOS resolve disputes involving the tenants and leaseholders of social landlords (housing associations and local authorities) and their voluntary members. Residents and landlords can contact the Ombudsman at any time for support in helping to resolve a dispute. Their service is funded through annual landlord subscription fees.