In the first of a series of articles covering Barnet Group’s selection and implementation of new applications for housing management, CRM, business intelligence and HR, Mandy Dunstan, head of business transformation at The Barnet Group, outlines the background to this company-wide technology initiative.
How do you take a passion for improving services, the opportunity to introduce new technology and create modern ways of working for an organisation of 500 staff? You lead and inspire change.
The Barnet Group is owned by Barnet Council and we are the parent company to Barnet Homes, a social landlord which manages 15,000 council homes, and Your Choice Barnet, a social care organisation providing services to people with learning and physical disabilities.
Our vision is to have a public sector ethos with a private sector commercial focus. This means that we want our customers to able to ‘do their part’, being enabled by our staff to self-serve and to self-source alternative service options from other local providers wherever possible. By doing this, we will help the organisation to drive down the costs of service delivery, while also generating rich customer insight to further refine and personalise our service delivery.
‘All Systems Go’ is our project that will support us in managing the risks of failing infrastructure for our IT services, change us into a customer-centric organisation and deliver a transformation in the way we serve our customers.
The creation of a customer-centric organisation will be a key part of our project and work will be linked to the mobilisation plans to review what we currently do to substantially improve customers and residents’ experience in dealing with The Barnet Group. The key defining principles for this stream of work are:
- Customers’ experience should be personalised where possible.
- Customers should be able to make choices about their services, but self-help should be encouraged.
- Service provision should be based around people’s lives, not service structures, and as such customer service should be joined up across all areas.
- Insight and data from customer interactions should be continually built into the delivery of services and the customer service offer.
- Customers should be able to access services and complete transactions online wherever possible.
We worked with a selection of staff from across the organisation to redesign our technical specifications and delivered a competitive process to select our new systems. To ensure that we had buy-in from the business, frontline staff were used in the scoring and interview process and collectively all staff were involved.
Our board agreed to buy the following systems:
- iTrent for human resources
- Aareon QL for housing management and CRM
- Covalent for business intelligence
- Clearvale for the intranet
We are also introducing new technology and ways of working for our workforce. This will include introducing thin clients to support hot desking and a greener working environment, bring your own device (BYOD), and mobile working using a mobile working application from 1st Touch.
To support this, I was seconded from my head of operations role to lead this massive project, becoming head of business transformation. My background is not in IT or major infrastructure projects, but I am committed to improving the work environment for our staff and want to ensure they have self-service, real-time reporting and customer profiling to empower them.
We are serious about getting this right and have invested £2 million in technology and a project team to realise our vision. Our journey started in September 2012, when it was ‘All Systems Go’, and over the next few issues of Housing Technology, we will share our progress (including our mistakes!) as we upgrade almost our entire business applications environment and completely rethink how we run our organisation from a customer-facing perspective – it should be an interesting journey!
Mandy Dunstan is head of business transformation at The Barnet Group.