Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Back in The Box

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @HousingITguy
or LinkedIn here https://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy

When I see the vast numbers of Excel spreadsheets filling SANS across this great land, I seriously wonder. So many giga-bytes wasted on so few.

It's usually housing management systems I look at from a day to day basis, and many of the so called 'special fields' . In my world, special things are like supplier USP's, probably not so 'Unique'.

We are trying to achieve broadly the same things here, how special can we be? Excel can so often be an excuse for creating a silo, or making one of more users important & indispensable. How often have you seen a house of cards based on one member of staff's spreadsheets (or bespoke Access databases, I have seen a few of those recently).

Most modern housing management systems have good facilities to add (under admin control), new user defined fields, to store data locally, in well defined formats. Choosing an entity well can mean that associated data is pulled back to the central system and available for all users who need it.

Islands are exotic and great to be exploring on a pedalo with a Solaro. It's not a place to store your data. I often ask, "why do you keep your data in that spreadsheet?". Often the answer is, "I dont trust that lot over there, and this is my copy". Well, how isolationist is that?

Getting your data 'back in the box' is not such a problem. The first step is finding out which entity the data should be attached to. Some examples to get your creative juices flowing:  Contact, Contact Group/Household, Tenancy/rent account, Asset, Works Order, Case... You get the drill. if your HMS supplier does not provide that entity, then reveal the error of their ways. Attaching new fields to all entities are frequent tender requirements. This is something that should be provided as standard.  

Once your data is 'Back In The Box' and connected to its entity of course, it's in your database and so much more easily reportable. There's no problem with users extracting data to look at in spreadsheet form, but the central place to update data, needs at all times to be the core HMS system.

The missing ingredient then is training of users and management enforcement of the standard process required. As they say, there is no 'I' in team. If we all take ownership on maintaining high quality of how staff enforce the defined process, we can rely on great quality KPIs. The team is king and the team using the main system as the place of record, create the source of great quality KPI data. A regime where users are recording exactly what's needed in the right place in the system is of much more value than a side process of irreconcilable spreadsheets with limited traceability.

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Related Post: Size does matter.Of your password obviously....? 


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

David Byrne - Back in the boxDavid Byrne - Back in the box.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

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