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We are hearing much lately about mergers and to a lesser extent demergers. a subject for a future blogpost I am sure. However, how to integrate data into your existing HMS (Housing Management system), is something every merger needs to seriously consider.
Group structures vary. Will elemental RSL's be an integral part of the group, or be very autonomous within it?
Most HMS allow setting up of partner RSL's as a totally separate database, or as a different Owning Body, landlord or owner coding, within a single database. How to decide, which path is best for you?
Well, separate databases generally need separate logins, so that might prevent use of a shared call or service centre. Do you think that might be a future feature? If it is then a shared database might be the way forward.
It helps if your HMS supports limiting users to different Owning Body, Landlord, Company, Area, Housing Officer, etc restricted by user access security. It might be as well to check that out. Also if one of those codings are currently being used for something else, in your current Housing Management System. This would allow users to only see/maintain the properties within their assigned part of the group. Where allowed, it can generally be relaxed, if staff are covering for others on leave etc.
However, often it can be felt easier at day-one to segregate into two databases, although that might not be best long term. Its far easier to break systems out of one database, than merge from two. In fact I can recall one decision to split two systems, decided by an RSL, to cement a decision that the HMS in question, could not do multi organisation . Quite wrong as it turned out, but it all turned out right in the end.
Still, getting back to the original question, do we look to migrate into or out of the current group database? Well some of the questions to ask are about the groups that may be formed. Will a common service centre, deal with enquiries from all of the group? If so, then a common database is going to be essential. A split database would be problematic to a service centre to deal with to two different demographics. Two logins, or Alt-Tab between each.
Generating KPI's is somewhat easier from a single database, reports can easily be run for the whole group (all units), or filtered on a single Owning Body or Landlord designation. Chances are, within a group, shared or similar SLA's may be agreed, so performance across group members can be compared.
KPI's from two separate databases would mean all codes would have to be identically set up and maintained, in order to allow easy KPI comparisons. Of course, two databases would need two upgrades on every release and discipline to keep codings/features in line at that point too.
I have seen group structures offer a very flexible relationship and a in comparison, quite a strict relationship with partners. I do not opinionate on what is good or bad, partners need to determine if that meets their own cultures. That decision as to if we are looking at two(or more) databases is central to any merger and one to be taken at the very start.
This is a key decision and will determine relationship for many years ahead.
If I can help with any merger you are engaged with, please be in touch, we are here to help.
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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