Sir – As housing providers prepare for the onset of universal credit, many are naturally looking at the IT solutions on the market to help them achieve the efficiencies they’ll need to succeed in a tougher fiscal environment.
As a technology supplier to the sector, you might expect me to support this approach, but I would argue that an IT solution needs to offer more than just cost efficiencies to prove itself of any real value in the long term.
IT is often seen as a way to cut overheads, but in fact, customers tell us that when it comes to collecting rent arrears, for example, they want to use technology to free up the human resources they have and refocus them, rather than lose them. If income specialists can spend more time on pastoral care with tenants, the rent arrears level soon decreases, while tenant communication and satisfaction dramatically increase. This can only be a positive outcome for both parties.
According to a recent report*, over 90 per cent of housing providers questioned said that they are very or fairly concerned about the capability of their tenants to cope with monthly budgeting and the additional resources needed to support tenants with the transition to universal credit.
The only way to tackle these issues is to find an IT solution that can deliver benefits far beyond pleasing the balance sheet. Communication will be the key to implementing the changes smoothly and any piece of software that can speed up back-office processes in order to free up front line staff will be worth the investment.
As one customer recently said, “It’s about managing the resources we’ve got effectively, as we can’t keep ‘magic-ing’ up more income managers!”
If you’re are considering investing in a new IT solution, don’t just measure it by cost alone, look at the broader business benefits it could deliver.
* National Housing Federation: Welfare reform impact assessment, January 2015