Following Capita Software Services’ acquisition of IBS OpenSystems’ OpenHousing product, Housing Technology interviewed Martyn Rees, director of housing strategy, and Roger Birkinshaw, housing director, from Capita about what the acquisition means for housing providers and about Capita’s future plans.
What does the addition of OpenHousing mean for Capita’s customers?
It means a larger customer base for what is now the largest housing management system (HMS) provider in the sector. This enables both sets of customers to be part of a bigger offering from Capita. It also means that we can add complementary products to the offering from Capita Housing, such as integrated financials from Cedar Open Accounts. We want to add functionality that we can integrate across both the Capita Housing and OpenHousing product lines.
The same applies to the old IBS OpenHousing customers. Examples of additional software applications and functionality for OpenHousing customers include Capita Support, Payment Management, integration with Capita Revenues, and a product for context-sensitive on-screen help.
The majority of customers certainly appear to be happy and some are already seeing the benefits that Capita can bring – even small process improvements can make a difference.
Do housing providers now have fewer choices of housing management systems?
The choice has not diminished. We see this as a positive move to bring two leading systems under one organisation, rather than the sort of product consolidation we have seen in recent years from companies failing. We are not consolidating Capita Housing and OpenHousing. OpenHousing will remain a separate product indefinitely, as will Capita Housing.
How is Capita’s acquisition of OpenHousing good for the UK social housing sector?
Capita can now invest more resources in product development across both lines of business. At the same time, the combined expertise of two successful businesses into one larger Capita housing division with a variety of product streams makes Capita a secure choice for housing associations and RSLs.
We believe we can make a difference. For example, we have already started a development project to simplify the production of statutory and management reports across all 240 Capita Housing and OpenHousing customers.
What is the future for housing management systems?
We think that housing management software will change significantly over the next five years, and not only from Capita but also the other software suppliers. The majority of systems supplied today are based on legacy applications; we plan to work with our customers and the wider housing industry to ensure that the next generation of software is sustainable for the next decade and beyond.