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I was chatting at a meeting just recently about how many strings, some supplier implementers have to their bows. Now I am too polite to name the supplier or any other details, but it seems to be a growing problem for so many, now systems have got so complex.
I like feature-rich applications, they help socialhousing to get the most from ever squeezed resources. They are getting harder and harder to configure. Much of the client experience is in how well that is delivered. However as pretty much 60% of the cost can be service days, it does come down to the quality of those staff and their knowledge.
This was the subject of the conversation, at a site where several parts of a solution are being re-implemented. It was remarked that implementers they had experience of, perhaps only had experience of a single module, or just a small part of one. So as an example, a person on site might understand Rent Arrears setup, but not Rent Review process, or postings to a finance ledger. To cover all three areas in a single day might take three people from the software supplier.
Clearly this is not good for client or supplier to experience. In my nineteen years of working with housing systems, I was a sponge, soaking up a vast array of knowledge, that enabled me to be confident with whole process journeys, rather than just stations and stops on it. One thing I did too, was build the windows on-line help for all modules, of a popular housing management system. In doing that, I learned even more and cashed in on a shed load of overtime too. So a win-win, and it left me an encyclopaedic knowledge, of such a range of processes.
To have a wide range of experience was the ethos I tried to instill into implementers. It makes life easier for everyone and makes for smoother projects. All system suppliers struggle to recruit and retain quality staff. It does not help that the sector is a bit incestuous either. Staff swap between housing system suppliers, they also swap from RSLs to suppliers. For example good housing association repairs people, join suppliers to become good repairs implementers.
If implementers get too good, they may be poached for the pre-sales team as well. I am sure suppliers and clients reading this are nodding their head at this point.
Suppliers struggle to cross-train staff, particularly implementers & in pre-sales, enabling them to satisfy clients better, and far more efficiently. I have talked to suppliers about well-meaning projects embedding with clients and others, although anecdotally, it doesn't seem to be getting much better.
Another thing that doesn't appear to be getting much better is online application help. Combining my experience of using improvement of that, with enriching system knowledge, could be one avenue for suppliers. I don't know if they would be paid the overtime, but you got to admit, this could kill two birds with one stone. Implementations may well go better, with less people on site.
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Related Post: Things to think about when asking questions on tenant satisfaction surveys
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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