East End Homes has extended its managed IT services contract with Sovereign Business Integration for another 12 months, having originally enlisted the consultancy’s help in 2005.
With around 3500 properties under its management, East End Homes’ strategy is to limit the cost and overheads associated with back office processes, preferring to focus on front-line service delivery to residents. As a result, fewer than 20 of the organisation’s 120 staff are based in the head office near Canary Wharf; the rest are based locally on estates where they are best placed to understand and deliver tenant needs.
This front-line focus, coupled with East End Homes’ property refurbishment goals, resulted in Sovereign being brought in to provide managed IT services, giving East End Homes a known financial commitment year on year.
Peter Gibbs, finance and resource director, East End Homes, explained, “Outsourcing our IT services to Sovereign provides a real comfort factor. We know the financial commitment up front; and we know the systems will be maintained by people who have the technical expertise, resources and background to keep them running. This contrasts with the risks of employing a dedicated IT manager – as a small organisation, good IT people are usually hard to find and hard to retain.”
As part of its day-to-day IT services, Sovereign supports East End Homes’ 85 users of the Orchard ArcHouse and Open Accounts financial systems, as well as advising on and supporting the housing provider’s SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence software to supplement the reporting offered by Orchard.
Gibbs added, “The combination of day-to-day service and strategic advice ensures the limited financial resource available to East End Homes is targeted at those areas that will deliver the greatest benefit to our business operations and tenants. Furthermore, customer satisfaction is consistently high, around 95-96 per cent, and our staff view Sovereign’s technicians as very much part of the East End Homes team.”
Looking ahead, East End homes is currently considering whether to virtualise its 11 servers as well as the merits of upgrading from Orchard ArcHouse to Orchard Housing over the next 12-18 months.