The National Housing Federation’s IT department has achieved accreditation to the National Computing Centre’s Standard for IT. The Federation’s IT department is responsible for the provision of IT services to 150 staff as well as delivering ICT services to the Federation’s conference centre in London and its regional offices in Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham.
Rob Green, head of ICT, National Housing Federation, said, “Our technology refresh cycle is typically faster than other organisations because we need to keep abreast of the latest IT applications used by our members. We are PC-based at the moment but we are planning to move to thin clients as a precursor to fully cloud- based computing. However, as with many organisations, IT can be thought of as a utility, with few people fully aware of the IT department until something goes wrong.
“Although we would like to gain accreditation to a lot of standards to demonstrate our professionalism to the business, we often just pick the most pertinent processes from the major standards and adopt those. The downside is we have little to show that we are actually a best-practice function, so I wanted to resolve that by taking the Federation through the NCC’s IT Department Accreditation (ITDA) programme.”
The assessment scheme which underpins the ITDA examines an IT department’s performance against 110 common controls, enabling the department to compare and understand its own strengths and weaknesses. The ITDA includes a framework for business management and direction, service generation, delivery and operations, and customer relationships.
Green said, “The ITDA not only provides us with an independent benchmark of our performance across all the critical areas, but also gives us a solid framework for business process improvement.
“I also wanted the IT staff to feel good about themselves; they are the unsung heroes and deserve independent recognition. The members of the IT team have been really pleased with the result and departmental morale has improved significantly.”
The accreditation has also helped the Federation’s IT department to fully document its processes and develop a robust procedures manual. Green said, “Although our processes followed best practice, the lack of full documentation meant that if our CEO asked why we did something in a particular way, we were on the back foot. We have now built reason, robustness and repeatability into our processes.”
NCC also reported how the ITDA affects housing providers’ ‘star ratings’, with the NCC accreditation often resulting in an additional ‘tick in the box’ when being inspected for funding.
Green concluded, “The ITDA framework is great way to build a service portfolio based on acknowledged best practice, and you only have to comply with the elements of the Standard that are relevant to your function. And if you need to boost staff morale in difficult times, this is definitely the way to do it.”