Saturday, 6 February 2016

I'm an Orbit Mover baby

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @HousingITguy
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After my 'shout out' for innovation, I am pleased to have encountered a number of really interesting applications and developments. My (most) favourite (usually swear-ey) COV based ICT project manager (some of you will know who I mean... ) , contacted me last week, to say "Check this out"!
Self-service Jim, but not as we expect it!

Luv and kisses, this is a sweet one to share.

Just recently you may have caught my post on a different take on selfservice repair diagnosis. Orbit Group, who must have a fair volume of new sign-ups every week, have focussed on the lettings journey for self-service. Get that right IMHO and you reduce many potential arrear, repair, ASB and gas service issues. There are a number of efficiency advantages too, as well as providing enhanced 24/7 service, like we experience in the real world of Amazon and Tesco online.

'Orbit Move' takes the applicant and gently guides them through a standard path with support. ID is checked, application claims & status etc, while keeping them in the picture with regular email updates.  More vulnerable applicants can access additional help, from Orbit's service centre. Live-Chat is always available if needed.

The applicant is informed about how they need to budget for the property, and expectations set. Before documents are provided, signed online of course, a interactive map is used to educate about those essential rights and responsibilities. Ingredients of elearning & gamification are used to attempt to make this process straightforward, but memorable.  By the end of this stage, the new tenants understand when and how they will pay for their new home and what is required of them. as regular readers will remember, I am a great fan of the concept of a 'tenant driving test'. This seems to be achieved in a pretty painless fashion.

The last step of course is to plug the new tenant into the Orbit MyAccount.  I think that's pretty neat eh?
So, how do we all get this type of thing in place for our own RSLs?
Orbit have worked extremely hard on the development with Prodo Digital, who are very local to me in Cheshire. Prodo are website, SEO and responsive design, creative specialists, with Smartphone and tablet presentation given priority, for a raft of Orbits websites. This development utilises back end objects, to securely communicate to back-end housing and EDRM systems.

Orbits HMS supplier, like many others in the market place, I am sure provide a functional customer self service portal. Clearly in this case and in quite a few others I have encountered RSLs 're-inventing the wheel' in some respects, by not utilising the available HMS portal module. Possibly these HMS options are not richly functional or flexible enough, too  expensive, not open enough, or there might be other reasons.

It would be good if HMS providers could up their game by quite a degree, with the real world as the quality target to achieve. Features here that Prodo have utilised, such as electronic signing of documents, such as tenancy sign ups, are common now for insurance & other signups . HMS suppliers are either falling short of features like this or they are not provided to the right quality, design flexibility or reliability. Orbit fortunately have high volumes and can generate economies of scale, in order to justify this type of project. They look to have made a fantastic job of it too, if I may shay sho.

It will be possible, but not easy for Prodo to make this easily as a product, as each HMS will have its own interfaces, BPM or webservices to accommodate. The sad thing is that smaller RSLs, perhaps of 10,000 units or smaller, will have difficulty justifying expenditure on such a rich solution as this, having to rely on more lightweight solutions, maybe from their own HMS providers in the meantime.  Now I have had some suppliers trying to tell me they have innovative solutions, but honestly, can they match up to the real world benchmark. Believe me, I have done pieces of work to hold a mirror up to some of these solutions, which is what they need. Better deficiencies are examined in a sealed room, than exposed with prospective purchasers, at an RSL is my view.

It would be fascinating to hear how individual RSLs are tackling this, or others such as Prodo are plugging the gaps. Catch the Orbit Move experience at

All credit to Orbit here and how the project has been managed by Lisa Odedra, some new ground broken here, for #UKhousing methinks.

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Related Post: Fooled again? Get the Procurement of new ICT solutions right will you? 


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Free - I'm A MoverFree - I'm A Mover.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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