Newydd Housing Association

Newydd Housing Association
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

How a Housing Association used QR codes and automation to help encourage more people sign-up to their service and reduce repetitive back office admin tasks.

In the summer of 2021, Newid ran a course on Designing Digital Services. The 6 week course introduced the concept of Service Design and supported third sector organisations to prototype new services and ways of working.

Newydd Housing Association initially joined the course because they offered a grant to community groups and wanted to improve how it was promoted and accessed. They also wanted to streamline the application process and make it easier for staff to deal with applications.

Their initial question was: How do we ensure we are reaching the right individuals and groups that will most benefit from our Community Investment Fund?

Through the support and training offered in the course, they carried out research. They spoke with members of staff and people who did get the grant for feedback on the process, finding out if there was enough support, guidance and any challenges. They spoke with another Housing Association to discuss their Community Benefits process and created a user journey map to get a better idea of each step applicants had to go through.

They created two statements which helped them clarify the needs of their Community Benefits Officers so they could focus on what support they needed. These are called 'User Need Statements':

As a Community Benefits Officer, when I carry out a community needs assessment, I need to promote the opportunities within the local area so that community and volunteer groups can self-refer.
As a Community Benefits Officer, When I receive any applications for local funding I need to quickly share them with our Community Benefits group So that they have ample time to review and provide comments.’

Newydd then created three statements focusing on how might the challenge be solved. This was to help as a tool to focus thinking and generate possible solutions. This process is called How Might We.

The How Might We statements that Newydd came up with:

  • How might we work with organisations to agree where social impact can be best added?
  • How might we raise awareness of, and access to Community Investment funding?
  • How might we build a culture of Social Value to drive a common purpose?

After looking at some research on how individuals access web content, they found this particular article that was highlighting a fair increase in awareness and adoption of QR Codes following its use throughout lockdown by Welsh Government schemes, including  ‘Eat out to Help out’ and wider roll out by the hospitality sector.

Newydd created a poster using Canva and used Microsoft Forms to create a ‘Digital Expression of Interest’ and develop a QR Code to put on the poster. They used Power Automate so that anyone filling in the form using the QR Code gets an automatic email reply. They improved the poster by adding a phone number following comments from someone who said they would prefer chatting on the phone.

Newydd were pleased with the results of the test and estimated that by using Power Automate a saving of 5 minutes admin time per funding application. Which would result in thousands of minutes in admin time.

Scott Tandy of Newydd said:

This course has been amazing. It's helped us to meet the needs of the service users and work with them throughout all stages of the journey to capture and iterate based on the knowledge, feedback and life experiences of the those we're supporting.

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