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Legacy Tech, Thinking & Suppliers - What's Holding Social Housing Back

Nicky Metcalfe Author: Nicky Metcalfe

Earlier this year, members of the DocTech team attended the Chartered Institute of Housing, Housing 2022 Annual Conference at Manchester Central.  As always, we were keen to learn about the trends as well as the concerns of those in the sector, enabling us to know more about how we can best serve our clients.

During the event we listened to several talks around Digital Transformation and we wanted to share our key learnings from those sessions.

What Is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation involves a re-think about how organisations can embrace technology to make a positive impact on the business as a whole.  Implementing digital systems across products and processes will improve employee roles, enhance customer satisfaction and reduce overheads.

Sometimes the idea of Digital Transformation is too much for Social Housing providers, and it's more about getting up to speed rather than investing in a complete overhaul.  

What Are The Goals?

We felt that Julie Mixter, Director of Transformation at Ravens Housing Association had some really inciteful points in her talk, The Golden Thread from Procurement to Benefits Realisation.

She highlighted that it was key to remember why you were doing the project and keep coming back to ‘check-in’ with those goals.

Legacy systems

At DocTech we have learnt that Housing Associations often have very different drivers to other organisations. Where goals such as increased sales, growth or expansion are priorities for private businesses, Housing Associations have more customer centric outcomes in mind.

Julie spoke about just how aware she is of staff working really hard to keep up with their workload, but that tasks continue to fall through the cracks creating risk.  Legacy tech is often a culprit for this and is why Housing Associations need to look to digitisation. 

The right systems not only improve efficiency, enhance productivity and reduce risk, but they also improve customer experiences as staff are able to do more in less time, and with less errors.

Think About The Budget

Julie also gave some great tips on the procurement process.

When speaking to prospective clients in Social Housing, the budget question is often met with a blank face. How much should Digital Transformation projects even cost? How much is too much?

Julie advised to have a number in your head around 10% of turnover. This would give enough scope to deliver the project to a high standard while also being able to see a clear ROI.

Increasing Communication 1

Engage With Providers Early

The tip that resonated the most with us is that “A bad RFP is the gift that keeps on giving.”

Don’t be shy to engage with providers early. If they are genuinely interested in the success of your project, they will help you as part of that discovery exercise to ensure you’re getting the right system for your needs. The more detail we as suppliers get, the more accurately we can advise on the solutions available to you.

The Benefits Of Digital Signatures

Digital Signatures2 (900 × 900 px) And how about this for a stat! Since implementing Digital Signatures, Ravens      Housing Association have seen a 43% reduction in customer visits saving them,  and their tenants, time and money.

DocTech client Mosscare St Vincents implemented digital signatures in 2021.  The solutions not only reduced the mileage their tenants needed to travel, but also greatly improved security and a reduced admin timeRead their success story!

Digitisation in Social Housing

Deborah Kelly recently completed her MBA with a focus on Digitisation in Social Housing. She shared the insights from her studies in her talk Digital Transformation – What is holding us back?

Company Culture

Deborah learnt a lot about the impact of culture within Social Housing and came to understand that new tech won’t change culture. Organisations have to have the right mindset and culture in place to have any chance of a Digital Transformation project being a success.

This was reiterated by Andrew Rafferty, Director of Technology at Weaver Vale Housing as part of the same talk. You MUST have a tech minded person at a senior level in the organisation to drive the project.

A lack of technical knowledge within a Housing Association leads to a lack of vision, clarity and accountability which in turn causes delays to projects.

Start Small With Commonly Used Systems

Andrew made some excellent recommendations which reflect what we have seen with our clients:

  • Look for low code, commonly used systems. Systems that can be configured to company requirements but don’t require complex, lengthy builds
  • Start small and expand. We always recommend starting in one department or area of the organisation and then growing organically from there. This helps to increase internal buy-in when you want to expand the systems.

It was great for us to see such an appetite for digitisation at the event and to hear about the benefits our systems are already bringing to so many Housing Associations.

We’ll be back next year, eager to learn what’s next for the housing sector to help us better accommodate existing and prospective clients to achieve their goals.

You can read more about how DocTech solutions have made a difference to the Housing Associations we work with in the case studies pages of our website.  Alternatively if you'd like to know more about how we can specifically help your organisation, book a call with a member of our team.

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