As part of a three-year managed services contract which began last year, Tower Hamlets Community Housing has outsourced its technology operations to Sovereign Business Integration.
THCH was established in 2000 and now provides 2800 homes and employs 80 staff across four locations. However, by 2006 THCH had not upgraded its IT hardware or software infrastructure, leading to performance issues. Furthermore, key software applications were about to go out of support and required urgent upgrades to ensure continuity of service.
Lacking the necessary in-house resources, Sovereign was chosen to deliver a managed service and create a structured plan to overhaul the IT infrastructure initially and then create a robust platform to support future service improvement.
Harneck Chilemba, finance director, Tower Hamlets Community Housing, said, “IT has a key role to play in ensuring THCH can consistently deliver services to customers and that staff can solve customer issues. By creating a process of continual IT improvement, the organisation can become far more effective.”
Sovereign’s first action was to manage upgrades to the core systems used by THCH, including housing, property management, finance and reporting. Alongside the technical migration, which included a shift to the latest OpenEdge10 database and replacement of the ageing hardware with a new server, Sovereign also took over the helpdesk, managing all incoming customer calls and dealing with the backlog of customer queries.
Having proved the success of outsourcing, in 2008 THCH embarked on a three-year managed services contract with Sovereign.
Sovereign’s objective now is to deliver quantifiable ongoing improvements. The current project master plan is supported by continual updates and tracking to ensure IT development remains focused and enables THCH to meet the needs of its tenants. The master plan ranges from complex organisational projects, including the adoption of enterprise content management (ECM), to one-off projects such as the need to meet National Register of Social Housing requirements for ethnicity reporting.
Over the next two years, THCH plans to improve the quality of service delivered to tenants and enhance operational efficiency. This will be underpinned by the introduction of ECM and VoIP to improve the overall quality of IT usage and deliver bottom line benefits.
Sovereign has also redeveloped all IT policies and procedures, including a high-level business continuity plan which includes a step-by-step guide to bringing systems back online in the event of an outage.
Chilemba concluded, “Sovereign was initially focused on fire-fighting, upgrading the infrastructure to bring our IT up-to-date. With this three-year contract, Sovereign can now be more proactive, working in partnership with us to enable continual improvements to the quality of customer service.”