We’ve all heard of fantasy football teams, but who would you put in your digital dream team? Who do you need to achieve your digital strategy?
Let’s face it, in the housing sector it’s unlikely that there will ever be enough people available to deliver at the pace of change required, especially if you’re playing catch-up. Here at Golden Marzipan, we have an ongoing debate about how we would create the ultimate ‘ICT super team’.
Head of ICT
You’re going to need a leader: captain, coach or coordinator. And depending on the size of your organisation, that could be a director, head or ICT manager. It’s good to see more of the former being co-opted onto executive teams.
A suitable senior manager with responsibility for ICT should be appointed to manage IT resources, to manage and plan ICT, including policy and practice development, planning, budgeting, value for money, resourcing and training. Additionally, they should manage risks by setting up appropriate IT controls and planning for IT recovery from possible disasters.
Your ICT service desk is your shop window. It’s where your users experience mega or mediocre service and where reputations are won and lost.
Your service manager is the person juggling a million issues and problems, directing others on a minute-by-minute basis. They need great organisation and communication skills. You should aim to resolve 80 per cent of users’ requests within 24 hours and keep people updated if any longer. Your ICT service should be measured through KPIs and satisfaction surveys and the results published through internal channels.
Well, this is a bit of a cheat – after all, you probably can’t afford a fully qualified and experienced ‘scientist’ but your demands for data solutions are increasing and affecting performance, governance and risk.
Whether it’s an analyst, architect, developer or manager – a data ‘someone’ along with a suitable BI platform is an essential to your team. And they might as well manage GDPR as well because that D is also data!
A programme manager (or project/product manager or even a process owner) can lead your change agenda. They don’t necessarily have to be part of the ICT team and many ‘P’ managers work with or for customer experience or digital transformation leads.
Programme management will improve the organisation and control of your different projects’ interdependencies and support ‘business as usual’. Projects deliver outcomes, whereas programmes deliver benefits. Ideally a collaborative group (change advisory board, programme management office) approach is taken.
Auditing & governance
ICT governance is an emerging topic and is becoming more important because of the fusion between business and ICT. ICT is no longer just a matter of service provision or understanding ICT risks.
The audit (risk assurance) committee should be delegated to oversee detailed scrutiny and evaluation of ICT risks. We’re surprised how many boards in social housing still haven’t got at least one member with suitable professional experience and qualities. That person can also be a ‘critical friend’ or mentor to the ICT director/manager.
Our last choice is a commercial manager (also known as a contract or procurement manager in our sector). This is another area of growing complexity and influence. And you need at least one person on the team who is comfortable talking to suppliers (including us!) and accessing opportunities for new technologies.
Account management relationships should be in place for your main housing, asset and finance management systems. Procurement exercises should be transparent in practice, process, policy and relationships with suppliers.
So, there you have it. Yes, we know there isn’t actually an IT technician among our team and most of our team are managers (albeit not necessarily people managers) but we think this is currently the ultimate digital dream team for housing.
If you agree with us but you are missing one of the essential roles or your organisation just isn’t big enough to resource this breadth of expertise, what can you do? Well, organisations such as Golden Marzipan are ideally positioned to give you that flexible yet experienced injection because they can curate the relevant skills to get you across the finish line.
Steve Dungworth is a digital transformation adviser at Golden Marzipan.