Housing Technology interviewed Valueworks’ executive chairman, Matthew Trimming, on what the software company does, recent changes to the company, and how it’s helping housing providers to achieve better collaboration with their contractors and external suppliers.
What does Valueworks do in the housing sector?
Valueworks is a software company that provides a collaboration platform to landlords, their maintenance contractors and builders’ merchants for a fixed monthly cost. The software is provided as a service, enabling landlords to have effective, auditable control over the cost and quality of their maintenance works. For contractors and merchants, it ensures that they receive well-structured and clear programmes of work, helping to reduce the risk of commercial disputes and ensure they remain a supplier of choice.
Can you describe the recent changes at Valueworks, and their relevance to your housing customers?
In February 2016, Valueworks’ owners, the private-equity firm Hg Capital, decided to make a further investment in Valueworks to increase the pace of its software development. This was accompanied by a change in senior management at Valueworks.
I joined as executive chairman, having previously worked for SAP. Nick Southwell joined as finance director and Phil Moss was promoted to become the company’s new chief technology officer (CTO). Duane Jackson, the founder of Kashflow, one of the first software as a service companies, has joined to support Phil and the development team as Valueworks’ first technology coach. Duane’s wealth of experience helps to ensure that Valueworks’ software is as modern and relevant to our customers as possible.
Since our new financial year in April 2016, we have increased the pace and focus of our software development, with two new releases planned for October and December this year. We have re-branded, moved our head office from Wigan to Manchester and re-structured our commercial model to deliver even more value to our customers.
We have introduced a two-day diagnostic, developed in concert with the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH), to help landlords quantify the cost savings our modern, automated business process software can bring to their business; and we have developed a strategic partnership with Microsoft as one of its Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) focused on integrating with its Dynamics CRM and Accounting software.
All of this work is focused on offering our customers and prospects a modern, digital software platform that saves them money, increases their level of control over maintenance works and helps them comply with the requirements of the HCA.
Please describe a ‘typical’ Valueworks customer.
A typical customer is a social landlord with 4,000 or more properties offered for rent or leasehold. Our focus is on the sector’s top 300 landlords, their contractors (such as Mears) and their builders’ merchants.
Our customers usually adopt our software as part of a digital transformation plan, replacing fragmented, spreadsheet-based business processes and expensive cost consultants with our easy-to-implement collaboration platform. The platform integrates with all of the major housing, asset and finance systems in the social housing sector, and a typical implementation takes no longer than five weeks.
Home Group, Flintshire County Council and Sutton Housing Partnership are three examples of customers working with Valueworks to deliver digital transformation programmes.
Our software has four distinct modules that can be purchased separately. PlanWorks focuses, as the name suggests, on planned maintenance. ServiceWorks helps our customers with their cyclical maintenance, ensuring they are compliant with their legal requirements such as boiler safety, something that the HCA takes a particularly keen interest in. Our third module is ReactWorks for a landlord’s responsive repairs, and finally we offer BuildWorks, which supports landlords with their new-build programmes.
Can you explain Valueworks’ focus on collaboration, control and compliance?
Valueworks’ software helps landlords, their contractors and builders’ merchants overcome the problem of fragmented business processes between each of their businesses. By implementing our collaboration platform, the landlord, contractor and builders’ merchant have a single, shared view of what maintenance works need to be done when and at what price. This provides greater control for the landlord over the cost and quality of their maintenance programmes and allows them to work with a variety of maintenance contractors and builders’ merchants on a single platform in a standardised and predictable way. This control is of increasing importance to landlords who operate with multiple contractors and merchants.
In terms of compliance, our customers value having all the relevant data on when a cyclical piece of maintenance should be and was carried out in one easy-to-audit system. The HCA is increasingly clamping down on poor cyclical maintenance work. Our software helps landlords to stay the right side of the regulator’s requirements, ensuring they remain a highly-rated organisation.
How does Valueworks’ focus on data fit with areas such as value for money?
The effective use of data to improve management insight and decision-making is at the heart of Valueworks’ collaborative promise to our customers. As recent research by the HCA has demonstrated, the costs of maintenance vary widely between the top 330 landlords, with some of the most efficient being the smaller landlords.
With the HCA’s continued focus on value for money, coupled with the need for landlords to make increasing savings due to the one per cent rent cut, our software helps landlords gain greater control over the costs of their maintenance works. The software already provides a range of business intelligence reports to help landlords track, assess and maximise value for money. This reporting functionality is being enhanced through our partnership with Microsoft.
Valueworks is a Microsoft ISV Partner – what does that mean for the company and your customers?
While Valueworks can integrate with any of the major housing, asset and finance systems prevalent in the sector, we have decided to form a strategic partnership with Microsoft. We have done this because our own software is based on .Net, Microsoft’s development language. It also allows us to use Microsoft’s Azure hosting platform and embed its latest data analysis and business intelligence functionality within our software.
Known as Microsoft Power BI, it will dramatically improve the business insight and decision-making opportunities for our customers, both during annual business planning processes as well as for day-to-day maintenance work.
Above all, our partnership with Microsoft is based on the belief that landlords will increasingly look to its Dynamics CRM and Accounting software to modernise their fragmented and siloed technology infrastructures. As landlords modernise their approach to customer and financial data with Microsoft Dynamics, Valueworks will be the natural partner for a landlord’s property data by providing a single system for a landlord to manage its customer, financial and property data.
What are Valueworks’ future plans?
As Valueworks looks to the future, we are focused on delivering market-leading software that’s easy to integrate and delivers increasing levels of insight for landlords into the cost and quality of their maintenance work. We will be further deepening our strategic partnership with Microsoft and ensuring that our customers’ voices are at the heart of the software we develop. To this end we will be establishing a customer advisory group in October.
I look forward to updating Housing Technology’s readership on our progress over the coming months.