What does digital transformation mean for smaller housing associations?

There is an increasing demand for social housing providers to become digital by choice, to reduce operational costs, improve data security and improve customer service. This has led to ‘digital transformation’ projects being an integral part of housing association’s strategic plans.

By Jimmy Rogers, Sales and Marketing Director at Castleton Technology plc.

By Jimmy Rogers, Sales and Marketing Director at Castleton Technology plc.

28 October 2019

This is a challenge for smaller housing associations, who often have less funding and smaller resources at their disposal. Therefore, it’s essential you define a clear strategy based on your specific needs, with realistic budgets and timescales.

Scoping is an important part of the project and all stakeholders need to be involved from the beginning. Get your customers’ opinions early and involve them in the process so you make sure it works for them.

Are you likely to be part of a merger or are you planning to expand your housing stock? Then it’s especially important you ensure you have the right solutions in place to manage your future growth. 

When looking for solutions to enable your strategy, there are several things to consider:

  • Affordability: Pay for what you need and opt for subscription-based models. Traditional solutions restrict customisation and come with a number of features/modules you may not need as standard. Find solutions that are simple, intuitive and adaptable to your requirements.
  • Integration: The last thing you want is for your solutions to be disparate, which can lead to duplication of data input and inaccuracies. You want to empower your staff with real-time data visibility and improved reporting capabilities.
  • Scalability: Your solutions need to be future-proof to manage growth and an increase in data. Cloud-based solutions offer more flexibility and security at a more affordable rate, and save on storage space on your premises.
  • GDPR: Make sure your solutions are compliant with the ability to set role-based permissions and retention policies.
  • Data: Accurate, real-time data is essential. For example, in order for customers to view their rent balance on your portal, you data needs to be correct, this relies on integration with your back office systems.
  • Resources: In order to stick to your project timeline, make sure you’ve allocated sufficient time for product testing and training. Moving to a digital way of working can be a huge cultural change within your organisation. Make sure your staff are well prepared to embrace their new way of working.

One of the main benefits of digital transformation should be breaking down siloed teams and improving communication, data visibility and security across your teams.

Moving to digital communication channels can significantly reduce operational costs, facilitate self-service and improve your customers’ experience.

Ultimately, digital transformation for smaller housing associations means ensuring their future capabilities and sustainability. This will attract developers and funding required to enhance and grow their housing stock, whilst catering for the future generation of customers and meeting their customer service expectations.

The National Housing Federation is seeking views on digital transformation for smaller housing associations. Please let us know your thoughts by completing a short survey.

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