Collaboration Nominee

Multifamily Housing Application Management Process
Minnesota

The Multifamily Business Flow project provided transparency into what and how work gets completed by the division, teams, and individuals by creating a framework that looks across the lifecycle of Minnesota Housing’s rental housing portfolio, providing us with:The Multifamily Business Flow project provided transparency into what and how work gets completed by the division, teams, and individuals by creating a framework that looks across the lifecycle of Minnesota Housing’s rental housing portfolio, providing us with:
• Ability to track, in real-time, the transition from business development to funding applications to asset management and provide automated workflow and notifications
• Improved communication between staff and customers by creating a centralized place to interact.  
• Clarified staff roles and responsibilities by identifying who is responsible for completing each task by when

Rather than approach this as an IT project or a line of business project, business and IT blended their goals, objectives, and execution plans. This ensured that technology investments were actionable and relevant with respect to the mission, and avoided potential missteps that can delay or halt progress. Understanding each other’s worlds made us truly effective.

Build a partnership between IT and Business. When Minnesota Housing’s work was recognized as a winner of the National Council for State Housing Agencies’ annual Excellence Award in technology, Karin Wilbricht (from the business) went to the presentation ceremony and by the time they were done, she got approached by all these CIOs and IT leaders from all these other organizations saying, “we want you to come over and, you know, lead this IT team.” And Karin said “I’m not in IT!’”

Break down the value chain. Minnesota Housing did not start this work by looking at a set of features or functionality. They first mapped out their own process or “value chain,” focusing on the people and the experience behind each step in the loan process. This made them determine how factors like program requirements, communications, and user experience played into the mission, surfacing the kind of detail they would need to speak to later during the planning process.  

Realize that everything needs to have value. It doesn’t always have to be a dollar-based value.  The key is being able to understand your unique value and how you measure it. If you only look at value in terms of dollars, you might overlook some important insights.

Recognize the value of people. Understand that process automation doesn’t always have to result in reducing your staff size. But you can help them free up time to do more meaningful work.  Investment in technology does not mean divestment in people, it is an opportunity to reimagine the way your organization functions, and refocus time and energy on the work that’s at the heart of the mission.
Engage Users in the Process. Engaging users in the process of designing and rolling out technology is critical for effective change management. Minnesota Housing’s user engagement model included:
• Frequent communication through multiple channels (live demonstrations, one-on-one’s, team meetings, electronic newsletters, large group presentations).
• Identifying technology champions and giving them early access to the product. They, in turn, were able to support other users in the adoption process.
• Open office hours to solicit and establish a feedback loop.

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Steering Committee

Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Bill Bleckwehl, Cisco
Dave Andrews, DEED
Jay Wyant, Minnesota IT Services
Jim Hall, Ramsey County
Matt Bailey, IBM
Melissa Reeder, League of Minnesota Cities
Nathan Beran, City of New Ulm
Sue Wallace, IT Futures Foundation
Lisa Meredith, Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative
Justin Kaufman, Minnesota IT Services
Renee Heinbuch, Washington County/MNCITLA
Jerine Rosato, Ramsey County
David Berthiaume, Minnesota IT Services
Cory Tramm, Sourcewell Tech 

Content Committee

Tomas Alvarez, Federal Reserve
Tom Ammons, MN.IT – Central
Dave Andrews, MN State Services for the Blind
Susan Bousquet, MN.IT – DOT
Robert Granvin, Metro State
Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Shawntan Howell, Ramsey County
Jenny Johnson, Metropolitan Council
Millicent Kasal, MN.IT – Central
Ping Li, MN.IT – MMB
Chibuzor Nnaji, MN.IT – DHS
Mehrdad Shabestari, MN.IT – Central