or LinkedIn here http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy
There was a time when Dynamics CRM was an interesting option for social housing front of house & customer service use, but it was far too 'fiddly'. In that Microsoft style, it was built by techies, for techies. Like Sharepoint, which has come from more of a techie toolkit in version 3.0, is now a rich functional environment, suitable for real world applications.
Last year I chaired a lively discussion at the InMotion event in Warwickshire entitled "Best of Breed OR Single Supplier, what's best for the customer journey?". I had two of the most interesting Welsh chaps in housing ICT with me, Mark Howells of Sanctuary Group and Owen Barret of Newport City Homes. The former as well known was taking the SAP route, Owen the Microsoft Dynamics CRM path. Both had spurned the traditional integrated housing systems that everyone likes so very much to carp on about.
Conventional wisdom has it that an integrated HMS must be best, as it more closely supports the key functions of a social landlord, using a module that supports that CRM function. Certainly that was the case about five years ago, when your options were probably Lagan, Salesforce or one if the more home-grown solutions that presented a ready built 'product'. Even with these, the preponderance of 'Syncronisation errors & issues' can make the experience painful, even where these come from the same source, as some or all of the HMS modules. Of particular challenge is the Almo or local authority stock, where compromises will be needed, as housing is only 30% or so, of the total query set. A housing only CRM, won't ever cut it with potholes, planning queries and other stuff mashed in.
Fast forward to 2015 and housing providers are moving to Microsoft Dynamics based vendors like Documotive and Goldcrest, to usurp some of the usual suspects. This is a more reliable proposition. Possibly the usual suppliers are not providing best value anymore, or not providing flexibility to support needs of social housing organisations. Large organisations need CRM modules to support different types of customer these days, including complex initiatives and innovations, such as growth in care and support, support to help with skills around worklessness, adding social value in other ways etc.
This move seems to be putting nails in the coffin for some of the usual HMS suppliers, used to a captive audience with their limited/expensive, sometimes seat based licensed CRM modules etc. One good example is Bromford Group, who have recently procured CRM and Agile mobile from Documotive, part of growing supplier Castleton Technology Group. Bromford are due to go live late spring, early summer, to better support its vast customer base. Read more about it here http://www.documotive.co.uk/news/2014/12/bromford-selects-documotive-crm-agile-working/
Bromford are well respected and I can see others taking note in the sector.
Our housing system suppliers need to be more innovative, provide the budget to develop and evolve faster, without so many bugs and excuses holding customers back.
Other sure-footed suppliers are delivering this innovation, with fast, proven products, including flexible mobile, already available off the shelf. Unless some HMS (Housing Management System) software suppliers wake up, improve and smell the coffee soon, they will increasingly become an irrelevance, particularly for RSL Groups over 15,000 homes. We will see more RSL's going to tender for substantially better outcomes, rather than carrying on, with more of the same with the previous incumbents.
Related Post: How agile are we in this sector?
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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