Housing organisations are complex and both their internal and external environments are evolving, which can lead to complicated problems. No one can deny that housing providers rely heavily on their IT systems to pursue their number-one goal of delivering excellent customer service. But IT managers are often frustrated by the number of different systems needed to achieve that goal. Well, here’s something for all IT managers out there: “Stop buying more systems.”
Housing organisations need to work smarter to ensure they are more adaptable, service oriented and scalable. The people delivering services to customers rely on IT systems to help them work effectively and efficiently. Traditionally, the back-office system has been surrounded by many ‘best-of-breed’ solutions for processes such as financial management, CRM, document management, payroll and HR. These, together with a myriad of locally-developed spreadsheets and Access databases present many problems for the IT manager. Housing managers want a single, division-wide, software solution that supports business processes, drives greater efficiencies throughout, and offers the agility to respond to changing business needs. That way, they can measure their outcomes to ensure business success.
Common concerns focus on the cost of buying each individual system, the difficulty of integrating them, how each system looks and works differently, and the time it takes to train staff on each of them. On top of that, even once the systems are fully interfaced and working as intended, a new update or version for one system is released and the knock-on effects are far reaching. If housing organisations are to remain cohesive, they require one comprehensive housing system which meets all of their requirements.
Organisations need to regularly evolve in order to benefit from the latest best practice. The commercial world that housing providers increasingly inhabit has long since embraced ‘whole company’ ERP solutions that include integrated modules for all of their key business requirements. Simply put, these systems provide full financial management, human resources and employee training, CRM, project accounting, intuitive reporting and business alerts. Deployment via the web and integration with applications such as Microsoft Outlook and Office are further potential benefits. These capabilities provide a vital foundation for housing organisations to deliver business success.
In a world where staff and customer expectations have risen, housing providers need to look at solutions that offer fully-integrated business modules, are web deployable and have a consistent look-and-feel. There is a significant requirement for solutions to have lower cost of ownership and management, yet to deliver on key business requirements. This means a shift away from individual, ‘best-of-breed’ systems, and implementing one ‘whole company’ solution that performs each required task, yet enables the organisation to be more adaptable, service oriented and scalable. In the delivery of better customer service, less really can mean more.
Tad Baranski is a business development manager at Anite.