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CRM helps Philly's biggest landlord clean house

A host of Oracle-PeopleSoft applications are helping the Philadelphia Housing Authority cut operations costs and employee headcount.

Despite the disruption of a takeover and what at times can be a painful upgrade process, PeopleSoft applications have served the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) well -- to the point that it has launched a new CRM project.

Oracle-PeopleSoft Enterprise Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and a host of other Oracle-PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM and support. The semi-public organization, which gets its funding primarily through a combination of government and private grants and rental income, had already replaced legacy Emphasis Unidata systems with PeopleSoft's Financial Management, Enterprise Human Capital Management, and Enterprise Supply Chain Management.

Six years ago, the housing authority began implementing PeopleSoft, well before Oracle purchased the popular software maker for $10.3 billion. PHA executive director Carl Greene remembers that there were concerns about continued support and development of PeopleSoft software during and after Oracle's tumultuous takeover bid. But the organization decided to stay the course, Greene said, and despite some challenges along the way, they're highly satisfied with the results.

At a time when housing authority funding is drying up, technological upgrades have allowed the PHA to reduce operating costs and halve the number of service workers it employs, Greene said. Meanwhile, efficiencies in handling service calls, maintenance workers, housing applicants and supply chain management have improved dramatically.

"The cost benefit has been well worth the investment," said Greene, who has a graduate degree in information systems technology but has worked mainly on the business side of things throughout his career. "This is the kind of investment that can last 10 to 15 years."

Learn more about Oracle-PeopleSoft applications:

Oracle unveils new version of PeopleSoft CRM

Blue Shield cleans up HR with Oracle-PeopleSoft HCM

A time for change

The funny thing about a call center, Greene explained, is that the worse it runs, the more calls it gets. That's because dissatisfied people like to complain about poor service; and back in 2001, PHA call center agents were fielding more complaints than they could handle.

It was an unacceptable scenario for Philadelphia's biggest landlord, which today provides housing for about 80,000 low-income residents and fields an average of 4,000 -- and as many as 10,000 -- calls per day from tenants, applicants and vendors.

"Calls were going all over the place, and basically a lot of calls didn't get returned," Greene remembered. "People were oftentimes angry and frustrated."

It became clear to Greene that the organization needed to upgrade its technology and streamline its customer-facing systems in order to manage requests more effectively.

Greene and the PHA began evaluating their options. The organization didn't have a systems integrator of its own, so finding a software vendor with strong consulting services was a primary goal. The PHA looked at SAP AG and Lawson Software Inc., but for various reasons neither of them fit the bill.

Lawson had strong points but seemed too much like a niche player. Greene wanted a more robust vendor with a stronger upgrade path, and he wanted software that could be customized with relative ease. He found that SAP presented problems in the areas of flexibility and adaptability.

PHA executives ultimately decided to go with PeopleSoft because it met all their criteria. The organization began by launching PeopleSoft Financials and

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