CCDC, which was founded in 2002 in Central Illinois and has been serving Christian County for over 20 years, operates in the affordable housing sector. CCDC strives to eliminate obstacles that residents encounter, enhance the local housing market, and develop habitable, secure, and economical homes for low-income residents.
Due to the large amounts of paperwork, CCDC required a more efficient method for completing and storing the extensive paperwork that accompanies each resident they serve. “We deal with so many regulated programs, everything from Illinois Housing Authority to IRS-governed programs, so with a large genre of compliance, comes a large genre of paperwork,” explained Meggaann Bell, CEO of CCDC. “Because a lot of the programs are income-based, rent and income limit-based programs require a lot of boxes to be checked to make sure the residents that live with us follow those guidelines,” Bell continued on to explain. “Our managers have an exuberant amount of paperwork that needs to be done not only for the initial application and qualification for these applicants but also year-round eligibility.”
Therefore, the CCDC team continually dealt with an influx of paperwork throughout the year, resulting in a significant volume of documentation they were required to complete. “The paperwork alone can be very cumbersome,” noted Bell. “I would say prior to using GoFormz our managers were doing a lot of handwriting as they met with applicants and residents. So that's what led Corey to seek out GoFormz,” Bell laughed. “He was tired of writing!”
“I came across GoFormz 5 years ago with the fire department because we were looking for something to better our existing process,” Corey Bland, Development Manager for CCDC said. “When you have a bunch of guys who can’t write very well and you know are just scribbling everywhere to try to make it cleaner, we knew we needed something.” After getting GoFormz implemented at the Pana Fire Department, a current customer of GoFormz, Bland recognized the immediate benefits. “When we turned our paperwork into HSHS, our local provider, they were able to read our writing and keep our documents in line,” Bland continued. “When I started working with CCDC I got to thinking ‘why can’t we just implement GoFormz here?’ If I can cut a lot of time out of my day to allow me to do other things then we should look into this.” However, Bland recognized there were other justifications for requiring GoFormz.
“From the manager's perspective, we kept hearing how hard it was for them to keep going into Dropbox to pull out the forms needed for their property and keep up with the changes that were needed.” Bland continued on to say, “implementing GoFormz was just another way for our compliance department to give us a set of forms that are input and we have control over.” In addition to the challenge of keeping up with changes in compliance documentation, Bland further noted that handwriting remained a persistent issue that would be easily solved with the GoFormz platform.
Starting anything new can be an overwhelming task, but once CCDC was up and running, they became unstoppable! “When I first started it was a little overwhelming thinking about how I was going to make it all work,” Bland admitted. “But like anything, once you do it a couple of times, it’s easy!” Bland continued, “we started with a few forms to see how people would initially react to the digital versions, and see if it would fit the affordable housing arena.” After experiencing an initial uptick of 20% of applicants filling out their forms online, CCDC fully embraced the platform.
Once Bland started exploring GoFormz further, he discovered features he wasn’t previously familiar with. “After a little bit, I started realizing the features that I didn’t know existed, like Hidden Fields where you can alter how things look in the background to make form filling more functional – then I just got addicted to it.” CCDC uses an array of forms, features, and functionality, all geared towards simplifying the form-filling process for both the manager and residents – Hidden Fields is just the first step towards achieving this goal. “Now when managers do their respective work, it’s a smooth form-filling process.”
Currently, CCDC utilizes five forms that revolve around their regulated programs: pre-application, application, verification, recertification, and inspection forms. Along with these forms are powerful features and functionalities added to significantly streamline form-filling processes.
With a focus on simplifying form filling, CCDC constructed its entire form collection around Conditional Logic. “We are loving Conditional Logic, even down to the minor things like Checkbox Groups,” Bland commented. “That sounds simple but to us, it saves us a lot of time in the end.” With varied capabilities within Conditional Logic, CCDC employs this feature in a specific way.
Given the numerous checkbox selections in their documentation, they leverage Checkbox Groups in conjunction with Conditional Logic to auto-populate additional forms. “We have a base form at the beginning of our recertification form where we placed a bunch of selection boxes. If someone checks one of the checkboxes then all that respective paperwork will populate for the manager and resident,” Bland explained.
“For example, if we have a tenant over the age of 18, then they have certain papers they are required to fill out,” Bland continued. “With GoFormz, those papers automatically populate into sequence and nothing gets lost!” The previously manual process of searching for the appropriate paperwork is now automated, streamlining data capture and simplifying form filling. “Preparing forms by hand used to take about half an hour per form, and now it’s only a 10-minute process as a whole.” Additionally, Bland noted that CCDC leverages Conditional Logic to auto-populate resident information, further simplifying the form-filling experience.
Meanwhile, CCDC utilizes Template-Based Public Forms on their website to streamline the collection of applications. “We moved all of our applications to Public Forms, so now we collect applications on our website through GoFormz,” Bland explained. This feature enables users the ability to share forms with others outside of their organization, further elevating data collection demands. Additionally, Bland incorporated a type of automation called Template Events to streamline their application processing. “When somebody submits a pre-application on the web, it’s automatically emailed to the manager of that property.” He continued on to explain, “we put tags on it so when that manager receives it, it would show us they did.” Bland expanded on this, noting that if a mistake was made, there was the ability to automatically transfer that information. “If an application went to a certain manager and it was the wrong property, it was able to automatically transfer to the appropriate manager.”
Additionally, CCDC incorporated the Image field to significantly enhance documentation pertaining to housing inspections. “We built an inspection form that includes image fields so when we have an inspection for a landlord, they can add pictures to the form, showing the exact issues, so we know exactly what needs to get corrected so units can pass inspection.”
Lastly, CCDC leverages digital signatures for their verification forms but has encountered some challenges along the way. “Outside of our recertifications, applications, and pre-applications, we are starting to migrate our verifications over,” Bland explained. “The only challenge we are finding is getting IATA or certain banks to accept digital signatures because they still want that ink on paper.” Despite this being a commonly themed challenge when it comes to digital transformation, CCDC remains confident in their efforts to streamline data collection. “It takes a little bit of time to not overwhelm people initially.”
Measuring ROI can be challenging, and it may not always materialize in the ways we anticipate. Time savings are frequently overlooked as a type of ROI, as it can be challenging to quantify in monetary terms. “It’s hard to put a number on time, but the savings are significant,” Bland expressed. “When you drop from half an hour to ten minutes on a recertification or reduce what previously was an hour of conversations and paperwork for a leasing interview it saves us a bunch of time!”
While the CCDC team has experienced significant time savings, CCDC residents have also expressed their excitement about the newly digitized documents. “Applicants have said that even before, if you had a digital form, it had to be done on a computer, but with GoFormz it can be completed from a cell phone,” Bland explained. “Most people in our industry do their work off their phones anyway, so this was a huge benefit to us.” Since GoFormz can operate on both mobile and desktop computers, the ability to access and complete forms while on the go has greatly improved the customer experience provided by the CCDC team.
Lastly, while CCDC may not have an exact figure for their cost savings, they are certain that the savings do exist. “You can look at the other side of the certification and verification processes where we need to send a digital signature out,” Bland said. “You go from 60 cents up to a $1.97 for a stamp to only needing to use a public form link for all the necessary paperwork.” Over time, these numbers accumulate and can lead to substantial cost savings.
After experiencing significant time savings from using the GoFormz platform at one of their offices, CCDC is now looking to broaden its reach to other office locations. “I have been hearing for the last year how well GoFormz is working at this office that Corey is based out of,” Bell continued, saying, “we’re looking to replicate this at other office locations.”
Additionally, CCDC plans to enhance their processes even further by integrating with Dropbox and encouraging IATA to embrace the digital transformation movement.