Housing Technology interviewed Comparex’s public sector director, Chris Bartlett, on why housing providers should consider adopting shared IT and business services for some of their operations and how to go about it.
Why adopt shared services?
Digital transformation has been a huge driver of change across the housing sector, and while transformation is not new, many of the benefits and challenges experienced along the way are, so many housing executives will have already travelled along the same path. This means housing organisations are working together to a greater extent and being far more open to sharing their experiences and challenges by providing advice and work-arounds to their peers. And as cuts to funding continue, we can expect the popularity of shared services to continue to grow.
Housing providers are leaning towards a shared model because it results in cost benefits and allows for more collaboration between public and private organisations – offering greater mobility, modernisation, and the sharing of knowledge and data.
Housing providers are already taking their first steps in shared services, bringing together their respective talents and specialisms to drive reduced costs, improved integration, and forge stronger working relationships, resulting in a more refined and valuable experience for their staff and their tenants.
Critical success factors
So far, we’ve seen the greatest success when housing providers can demonstrate the challenges and benefits to each other via tangible, real-world scenarios. In addition, the success of any project begins at the planning and discovery stage; as a result, we’re seeing housing providers benefit most from shared services and development when they engage with peers and partners at the very start of their journey to ask for that crucial advice and support.
Technology, business & cultural alignment
Clear and concise project planning will help to align and make the transition much smoother, allowing stakeholders to properly visualise and map their internal needs and requirements, and those of the partner organisation.
While it’s easy to say that resources can be shared because housing units and departments have the same functional names, the processes, knowledge and experience are what makes them unique. Understanding those differences, and being complementary to the skillsets and overall visions of both organisations provides far greater opportunity for integration and collaboration.
Bringing multiple services and resources together will result in a mix of working practices, cultures and knowledge, so accepting that and playing to each other’s strengths over time will result in much better and deeper integrations. Having that full knowledge in advance will make project management, timelines and the eventual alignment significantly more rewarding.
Housing organisations should always take the approach that if it’s not measured, it can’t be demonstrably improved. So define targeted and relevant metrics that matter to your area of the business.
For example, measuring the number of answered job tickets within an IT department may be a useful metric but it only shows half of the story; the ticket may have been closed but is it really a success if the customer’s problem hasn’t been resolved to their satisfaction? Organisations should define KPIs and SLAs that reflect the role each department plays in the organisation, and use those metrics to improve customer service and service management.
Chris Bartlett is the public sector director for Comparex.