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with EASY Contract Management

The housing association Gewobag keeps reliable track of rental agreements and group contracts

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From a historic water tower in hip Prenzlauer Berg to imposing Gründerzeit structures and modern new buildings – Gewobag is a municipal housing association that stands for “all the diversity of Berlin”. With around 60,000 apartments and 1,500 commercial units, the company is one of the largest real estate enterprises in the country. It’s planning to maintain this dominance: Currently, Gewobag is expanding its portfolio to a total of around 72,600 apartments. Their objective is to continue offering affordable living space to citizens of the nation’s capital into the future, across all generations and income levels.

It is widely known that the American President John F. Kennedy was a Berliner at heart; the same can be said of the Hollywood diva Marlene Dietrich and the star film director Wim Wenders.

Richard von Weizsäcker, long-time President of Germany, was a fan of the liveliness of the German capital, while superstar David Bowie spoke of its „cultural extravagance“. These days, Berlin certainly draws the crowds. More than twelve million tourists visit the city every year and over 3.5 million people call it their home.

 

With an inventory of some 70,000 apartments and more than 120,000 tenants in Berlin, Gewobag is one of the biggest housing associations in Germany. Encouraging diversity and creating affordable living space are two of the key objectives of the association, which is owned by the federal state of Berlin and is now 100 years old, and whose future growth strategy has a strong focus on new build projects. In this area, Gewobag is increasing its inventory over the medium term by approximately 15,000 apartments. Neighborhood concerns and sustainable neighborhood solutions, such as public transportation hubs, community and recreational areas, as well as the decentralized supply of energy and the generation of neighborhood electricity, are taken into account in all of the new construction projects.

Further project information

This is where EASY Software AG is helping out: Since 2011, with the EASY PCM Real Estate File, Gewobag has been collating information on rental contracts for apartments and commercial space in a digital real estate file. The solution is integrated seamlessly into the SAP real estate management system (SAP RE/ FX), and provides data and documents on the individual units at the touch of a button. Changes in the SAP master data of a rental agreement are immediately copied to the header of the corresponding file. This reduces the risk of redundant data and manual transcription errors, while the ability of the customer service representatives to access information increases at the same time. „The data relating to the contracts and the documentation can be viewed easily on the computer screen, so it isn’t necessary to look for it in the documents first,” explains Gewobag IT expert Heidrun Oehmke.

Over time, the desire to manage group-wide contracts efficiently, in addition to the rental contracts, has also gained in importance. „In particular, we want to make our agreements with energy companies, cleaning businesses, telecoms providers and other service providers that are relevant to our operating costs more transparent,“ explains Viola Matthaeas, Legal Advisor at Gewobag. The goal is to provide the departments and customer service team with quick and straightforward access to up-to-date and reliable information – and thereby provide them with a solid basis for their work. In 2014, the group decided to digitalize its company-wide contract management on a comprehensive basis. More than 4,000 contracts in the group can now be managed electronically in this way.

When looking for an appropriate solution, Gewobag also checked out the corresponding offer from EASY Software AG. „We knew what we needed,“ says IT project manager Heidrun Oehmke. In the run-up to the tender, the group-wide contract landscape was analyzed in detail, on the basis of which an extensive set of specifications was drawn up. The EASY PCM Contract Management solution was found to best fulfill the requirements of Gewobag. „The application is integrated seamlessly in the various modules of the SAP system, it can be used intuitively, and it is also inherently interfaced with our digital real estate file,“ explains Heidrun Oehmke, emphasizing the key advantages of the solution. The EASY offer was also found to be convincing in terms of its price in the scope of the invitation to tender.

The project support also left nothing to be desired: At the start of the project, a workshop was held to define the necessary adjustments and the procedure for the introduction. “We decided to digitalize the contracts that were relevant to operating costs first – which accounted for the bulk of the data,“ recalls Heidrun Oehmke. After all, it was necessary to transfer some 3,000 contracts of various type – from framework contracts with the electricity supplier to building cleaning – into the application. First-rate preparation was therefore a must. „In the course of the subsequent customizing, the EASY experts provided us with useful advice and support,“ explains the Project Manager at Gewobag. She is now already able to implement simple extensions to the software on her own. More complex issues are sent to the appropriate developer from EASY Software AG via the online maintenance portal at the click of a mouse.

Some 3,500 contracts relevant to operating costs are now stored in the system. The continuous roll-out to other types of contract is currently underway. The solution has been received well by the employees and they have welcomed the help that it provides.

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EASY PCM Contract Management enables us to take a much more forward-looking approach and make our contract negotiations more proactive”

Viola Matthaeas, Legal Advisor at Gewobag

An example: “If, for instance, a tenant complains that the communal lawn around the house isn’t being mown each week, a glance at the document saved in the contract file shows whether this service was agreed upon beforehand,” clarifies Viola Matthaeas. Before that, the clerk found information of this kind in the corresponding copy of the contract. This was stored in either the electronic filing system or the file folder on the shelf, or had to be requested by the relevant department. The problem: The stored copies weren’t always up to date, and the respective inquiries to the department took time.

As part of the company-wide rollout, by contrast, EASY PCM Contract Management makes the required information about agreements that are relevant to the operating costs available via a user-friendly web interface. The solution links all the contracts with the associated business units. “The colleagues in customer service can see all the contracts for the relevant business unit at a glance, can click directly on the required document, and get the required information straight away,” explains Heidrun Oehmke. In addition, letters to the contract partner can be written directly from EASY PCM Contract Management: Vendor information as well as key data from the business unit are taken from the SAP system and supplemented automatically. This means that transcription and allocation errors in the correspondence with the contractual partners are a thing of the past.

The department also benefits from the integrated contract management: Defined workflows, for instance, ensure that contract renewals are initialized in good time, notice periods are adhered to, and the entered data are checked on the basis of the dual control principle. “EASY PCM Contract Management enables us to take a more forward-looking approach and make our contract negotiations more proactive,” says Company Legal Advisor Viola Matthaeas. And this is also the case when it comes to optimizing the group’s expenditures. After all, in the future, agreements with IT service providers, cleaning businesses or facility management firms will also be managed at the click of a mouse. In this way, the entire contract landscape of the Group remains in view, as do the terms, notice periods and individual contract values.

This also helps with the reporting: While in the past, it was necessary for the contract information to be provided by the various departments and evaluated using Excel, in the future, all the necessary data will be available to Gewobag on a central platform. The housing association has therefore created a solid basis for its contract management with which it can successfully advance its own corporate development.

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Reliable overview of rental and group contracts

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