Despite the first coronavirus lockdown, Squared Housing has embarked on a transformation project to overcome back-office inefficiencies across its operations.
In February 2020, after a review of the market and their current systems, Squared Housing’s IT and finance director, Steve Behan, decided to move to a cloud-based software suite and implement solutions more suited to their size and capacity as a smaller housing provider. He received board approval to partner with MRI Software (formerly Castleton Technology) to provide the various cloud-based housing solutions they needed to fulfil their ambitions.
Squared felt that MRI Software’s integrated Housing Management Community solution was the right choice to improve their back-office inefficiencies, streamline their processes, enable remote working and reduce the pressure on their small IT team. They found the Community solution to be great value for money, offering the same level of functionality as a larger housing management system but at a more affordable price.
Squared Housing’s project began in earnest at the same time as the imposition of the first national lockdown. With its staff working from home, the housing provider had to find alternative ways of supporting their tenants when face-to-face interactions were no longer feasible.
Rob Robinson, IT manager, Squared Housing, said, “The challenges for us during lockdown included still needing to provide support and advice to our tenants, while day-to-day contact within our single-person accommodations had to continue despite shielding and self-isolation, though we were able to provide support remotely using IT. This extended to advice and help with arrears for our tenants who were furloughed or had lost their income. We also continued to provide emergency maintenance cover through our own staff and contractors.”
Squared had already made a conscious decision to encourage flexible and agile working and all relevant staff had been provided with laptop and mobile, with the ‘remote desktop’ option also adopted. Most staff already had the ability to work from any location which meant they had an easier transition to home working than others. However, their main housing software wasn’t cloud based and updating, editing and obtaining data was laborious.
Robinson said, “By contrast, MRI Software’s Housing Management Community solution is cloud based and fully remote, both key drivers for changing our previous systems.”
Despite the impact of coronavirus, Squared Housing and MRI Software have continued with the project together and have already gone live with their housing and finance solutions.
The Housing Management Community solution is cloud based, so the implementation was simple and was successfully carried out during lockdown over a relatively short period – another factor in Squared’s decision to opt for MRI Software’s suite.
Robinson said, “The team from MRI Software has been extremely supportive. They have provided us with regular progress updates, given us templates for the required data, including building in easy-to-use formulae, and the project has remained on track throughout, including remote training on the new system for all of our relevant staff.
“Importantly, MRI Software have been willing to admit when things haven’t gone well, have never tried to pass the cost or blame on in these instances, and have resolved issues by bringing in subject-matter experts where necessary.”