The merger of the A2 and Dominion housing groups in October 2008 resulted in the formation of A2Dominion, now one of the UK’s largest housing providers with 30,000 homes across London and Southern England. Following the merger, A2Dominion undertook a wholesale replacement of its entire IT infrastructure, implementing housing and CRM systems from Civica.
Kathryn Bull, group director of corporate services, A2Dominion, said, “Bringing A2 and Dominion together was a huge undertaking. As well as ensuring the new group met the expectations of its new tenant base, from an operations perspective we knew we wanted to implement the best possible back office and IT functions.”
The situation was made more complex due to A2 and Dominion both having gone through mergers and acquisitions before this latest merger, resulting in numerous legacy back-office systems. The team responsible for the transition to the newly-merged group highlighted the importance of IT and technology to the success of the merger, with particular focus on the possible future impact of the legacy systems. An independent consultant was appointed to analyse the best options for the back office and IT.
Bull explained, “We had already pretty much decided that we wanted an entirely new IT infrastructure for the newly merged group and the consultant’s findings supported our idea.
“The reason for this was twofold. First, there was a lot of legacy infrastructure and we wanted to create a modern, efficient service. The best way to achieve this was to start afresh, especially as the new A2Dominion group would be operating across a large number of offices. Second, we wanted to bring our new workforce together to establish the culture of the new organisation and make sure that they felt as though they were working for A2Dominion, rather than the whole exercise being nothing more than a rebrand.”
Having mitigated the major risks associated with the wholesale replacement of the IT infrastructure, A2Dominion’s consultant recommended Civica’s systems and services, with Civica working in partnership with the group, rather than simply acting as a supplier.
A2Dominion wanted to deliver high levels of customer service to its tenants as well as creating a streamlined back-office infrastructure to provide efficient support for A2Dominion’s front-line staff. The group’s strategy was to implement one contact centre for all tenants, with a target of 75 per cent of queries to be resolved first time.
Bull added, “We opted for two Civica products – Universal Housing and Contact Manager. The entire project, which was completed in May 2009, was a huge undertaking and demanded a lot of flexibility, patience and technical resources. We were effectively creating an entirely new organisational infrastructure from scratch.”
Universal Housing and Contact Manager are now being used across A2Dominion’s operations. Universal Housing has aligned back-office operations, reduced operational costs and increased automation. Contact Manager, which is used for both customer interaction and for managing staff workloads, has enabled A2Dominion to handle all enquiries consistently across the organisation, with each customer request logged and accessible by any member of staff.
Looking to the future, A2Dominion is considering the implementation of mobile technologies, as well as making greater use of Contact Manager and extending the use of Universal Housing to better support activities around temporary and student accommodation as well as key worker housing.
Also in the news, Hertfordshire-based Thrive Homes launched its new customer contact centre at the end of July 2009, with Civica supplying the workflow, contact management and EDM systems for the centre.
Together with computer-telephony integration from Civica Connect, the system will integrate with Thrive Homes’ existing Capita Academy housing management system.
Jo Barrett, acting operations director, Thrive Homes, said, “We are determined to ensure our new customer contact centre delivers outstanding service. Our timescale for implementation was critical and it was imperative that the new software-based system was in place quickly. We have introduced a freephone number so our tenants can call us free of charge, with the contact centre aiming to resolve most queries first-time.”
The new systems are also expected to reduce paperwork as all documents will be stored electronically, improve monitoring facilities for team leaders and deliver more streamlined services due to better information access.