From: Joop Schoppers, IT manager, Woningcorporatie De Woonplaats
Sir – In The Netherlands, we have about nine IT suppliers in the social housing sector and the number of housing providers has decreased in the last few years because of mergers. The suppliers therefore need to work harder to get new customers, and a new customer for one supplier means the loss of one for the other supplier because all of the housing providers are customers of one of the nine IT suppliers.
Changing suppliers means a lot of work, a lot of costs and changes in the organisation. Therefore, the amount of switching between suppliers is not something you will do before making a good business case; there must be clearly demonstrable benefits in order to do so.
I was wondering how this specific issue (changing IT supplier) is handled in the UK, and what are the main reasons to switch supplier?
Last year I visited the Housing Technology conference in Birmingham and spoke to some of my peers in the UK – it was very useful to get an insight into the UK social housing sector. Besides that, I have spoken to some IT suppliers who are operating in the UK and I was told that there are user groups (which we also have) in the UK.
I am interested in the way the user groups function towards their respective IT suppliers. What specific agreements are there, and is there any influence on product development?
I would be keen to hear from readers in the UK on these topics.