The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has gained the National Computing Standard for IT Departments (ITDA) from the National Computing Centre, alongside the National Housing Federation (see January 2011 issue).
With support from its long-term partner BT, NIHE’s IT team has implemented a significant IT and business modernisation programme. This has included the transfer of key services from an in-house model to a fully-managed service from BT, the selection and implementation of a new document management system, the introduction of secure remote working, and the selection of a new housing management system. The team’s IT services are used by all NIHE workers as well as over 2,000 non-NIHE staff.
Colleen Long, assistant director and head of IT services, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, said, “Other departments within NIHE have their own accreditations such as Investors in People, Customer Service Excellence and Charter Marks, and even our legal team is ISO9001 accredited. We wanted to prove that we too are committed to continuous improvement and that the IT team is doing things well.”
The ITDA looks an IT department’s performance against 110 common controls, allowing the department to compare and understand its own strengths and weaknesses. IT departments which meet or exceed the standard receive recognised accreditation by the NCC.
Long said, “We liked the concept of an independent validation of what we were doing. At the end of the ITDA process, you get a bespoke action plan which identifies areas for improvement and helps you to prioritise activities.
“The trick to successful preparation is management buy-in. We identified a few issues but we had the time to deal with them before the accreditation. Our partners at BT were very supportive and ensured that we had the necessary evidence by the due date.”
NIHE did very well across a broad spectrum of criteria and the NCC moderator subsequently praised NIHE for a solid set of results. The ITDA action plan identified some areas for improvement and progress against these actions will be reviewed by NCC in a year’s time.
Long said, “We have already started to address some of the actions highlighted. For example, NCC ran a customer perceptions survey among our stakeholders and identified that an improvement in ‘empathy’ would help.
“Independent recognition that we are doing the right things the right way has definitely boosted morale. Also, the rest of the organisation can be confident that its IT team is doing a good job, having been benchmarked as among the best.”