Saturday, 29 April 2017

Standing Still

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @HousingITguy or LinkedIn here

Not having had time to fit my South East Asian holiday in this year, I always enjoy dispatches from the super Paul Taylor from Bromford, as he always includes some cracking holiday snaps, with plenty of natives cooking interesting stuff. Back in January, PT’s blog (strapline - Innovation Labs. Service Design. Social Innovation), asked ‘Is Your Organisation Making The Impossible Possible?’. Strangely, in most of the projects I work with, that has not lost me a lot of sleep.

It’s a sad fact that in a big chunk of the socialhousing sector, we seem to be struggling to be making the possible, possible.

Has your organisation made the possible, well… possible?

Think carefully before you answer that one. It might well be a question more for your staff, than senior management. I spend my time with a wide range of staff, from front line surveyors, to court/scheme managers, trades colleagues, managers, directors, CEOs and occasionally residents and board members. Your staff often have come from other sectors, other RSL/RP’s or straight out of college, Uni or other education. Often they come with expectations of all kinds, around how they can do a good job, expecting the right tools for the job, with the appropriate training and communication, to keep them on track.

Incoming staff are used to the possible.

A bit like ourselves at home, we constantly improve to implement the possible. I don’t think we notice over time, it’s quite gradual. Our lightbulbs started as tungsten, then they went low energy, now they are turning LED, controlled by Hive. The TV is getting smaller & flatter, Plasma has become HD, which became 4K, then 4K Ultra HD HDR OLED. Before long you have parted with a few grand. A bit of effort and you have got yourself there.

How quickly we improve our home experience. But how fast do we move when in the work environment? How often have we not improved a work environment, because the cost was ‘a few grand’? Many I suspect and like at home, it does not take such a lot of pain, just a lot of determination (and maybe a partner to help get you there). Just like a buddy when helping you give up smoking, or cycle with you to crack 200 miles a month (for instance…).

Here’s a quick checklist of the top half-dozen areas where I have helped RSL/RPs get to the possible. Just the possible honest. No blue sky nonsense here, I promise. No drones, 3D printing, headless devices, blockchain etc

  1. CRM – An essential one. Bringing all your resident/customer interactions in one place, to help satisfy their needs faster. Available in many forms and at various cost and risk levels.
  2. Document management. Commonly known as EDM or EDRMS or similar. Your paper files, such as invoices, letters, tenancy files etc, could all be digitized and available at an instant, by staff.
  3. Customer (Resident) self-service. At its best, Amazon style service for housing, at its lowest common denominator,  ChannelShift which will in no sensible 21st century world, er… Channel shift.
  4. Mobile working. Get your staff out of the office working like the Martini Ad, anywhere, anytime they can.
  5. Virtualise and use the cloud to get the flexible infrastructure you need to support the organisation. If you desire it, maybe you can virtualise from the icon on your desktop, including telephony too.
  6. Integrate properly. Most organisations have this problem to some degree. I have lost count of the clients I have helped, who told me from the start that there is no way to properly plumb in solution x to y. Scheduling & mobile often feature in these scenarios. Spookily enough, I have always managed to find a great example of connecting solution x to y, which dis-proves the experience my client is experiencing. A lot of what will actually never connect, should in fairness, never have been purchased from day one. More than likely, with my help, we would have probably have discovered this, from an early stage, and considered the sensibility of purchasing these crazy solutions/applications/ideas/concepts, in the first place. 

If you are a board member, stakeholder, director or senior manager reading this, please think carefully about the six areas above. If you have all of them and they are effective, pat yourselves (and your colleagues) on the back. Well done you!

However, if your organisation has not managed to implement some or all of the above to a successful degree, here in 2017, to be brutally honest, you are not just doing ‘the standing still’, you are way behind. There may be a number of reasons for this, however it’s all fixable, believe me. Management do need a drive to do so. Often, I have been a part of unlocking projects, coming to it with none of the previous organisation or political baggage and a practical, proactive attitude, to just solving our problems.

I hope this helps you hold a mirror up to your organisation. If you think I can help, feel free to get in touch. Better systems mean more budget for delivery and opportunity to improve a right first time culture, for all of our neighbourhoods.

Related Post: Could your personal digital assistant, be the spy in your living room? 


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - 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.

The Table - Do The Standing StillThe Table - Do The Standing Still.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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