Six months ago, Housing Technology interviewed Sanctuary Group’s director of technology, Kevin Heslop, about the organisation’s implementation of the SAP-based OneSanctuary system (see Housing Technology, January 2017). We can now find out how the business is managing the new system and what the future holds for one of the housing sector’s largest SAP implementations.
Six months have passed, what stage is OneSanctuary at now?
Sanctuary has now delivered its final big SAP release, namely for the maintenance arm of the organisation, seeing 6,000 of our networked staff using OneSanctuary every day. This completed our move to SAP for our entire housing customer service operations.
Furthermore, we have integrated SAP with Kirona so that our mobile workforce of 1,000 repairs operatives can attend appointments with electronic job tickets originated from SAP and managed with Kirona Job Manager and DRS.
All of our customer interactions in our customer service centres now take place through OneSanctuary. By consolidating our business processes in this way, we’ve been able to improve the way that we work in order to ensure excellent customer service and increased operational efficiency.
While cutting over to new systems can be disruptive, from a customer perspective it has been seamless and we are confident that our service levels have not been adversely impacted. Now we’ve gone through that change, we can really focus on realising the benefits to the group; that’s what OneSanctuary is all about.
What has Sanctuary achieved with its implementation of OneSanctuary and how will this be managed in the future?
The major headlines for us are that we have consolidated all of our master-data objects onto a single core system. With challenges such as the General Data Protection Regulation, we’ve made the investment to prioritise data and the controls to keep the master-data objects, such as customer, employee and asset data, at the highest possible levels of data quality.
OneSanctuary has also positively influenced the way we work as a group. We now have a shared corporate services centre, based at our head office in Worcester, providing all staff across the business with IS, HR, finance and procurement support. These teams now all use SAP as the main basis for the work they do and the processes they support, allowing them to work together in ways that were simply not possible before we introduced OneSanctuary. Similarly, we restructured our housing services division to coincide with last summer’s housing-based release of SAP. The aim was to maximise the time spent with customers by our front-line teams.
The implementation of OneSanctuary has taken place over two years; can you describe why you used this phased approach?
Initially, we had a preference for a big-bang approach which would have meant fewer releases. However, we changed the approach because we wanted the programme to have momentum and demonstrate progress more regularly. Also, by creating smaller releases we were able to fine tune the programme and ensure less overall disruption to the group.
Working in this way allowed us to manage many more parallel work streams, meaning we could have one business area being released with another in testing, while also supporting the areas already using SAP. We learned lessons from each release, which meant later releases benefited from improved ways of working.
How did you manage the implementation of OneSanctuary and were there any challenges?
The biggest challenge was about managing the implementation and wasn’t technology related.
While staff from the IT teams were seconded to an in-house data team to manage data migration, a large number of business change managers focused on elements ranging from user acceptance testing to ensuring each business area using SAP had a network of local champions.
During the programme, over 200 members of staff from Sanctuary worked on OneSanctuary at one time or another; it has definitely been a team effort.
You previously spoke about sharing what you’ve learned with other technology and housing professionals – how is this progressing?
We’ve met a number of providers who are also thinking about their data and technology platforms. We’ve learned that everyone has pretty much the same sorts of challenges, priorities and pain points and, while SAP was the right answer for Sanctuary, there are many other ways that organisations can address these challenges. Collaborating and discussing these decisions has been useful all round and we intend to continue sharing what we’ve done and being involved in these exciting changes in the sector.
What are Sanctuary’s next SAP-based plans?
Although we have now closed the OneSanctuary programme, we still have some exciting SAP-related projects on the horizon. We’re currently in the early stages of designing a solution for van stock and materials management processes for Sanctuary Maintenance.
We also want to further develop the ways we support customer services processes using SAP. There are a number of self-service options we want to explore and this will take us into exciting new territory with SAP, with us exploring new systems such as Hybris.
The newest SAP technologies in S/4HANA also provide a wealth of opportunity for Sanctuary to explore. I fully expect this to turn into a new phase for OneSanctuary, focusing on our digital services being hooked into our new core SAP platform. But for me, despite these great opportunities, the most exciting development is further evolving our in-house SAP team so that we can continue to provide excellent service from IT into our operations and group services.
Kevin Heslop is director of technology at Sanctuary Group.