The world of Housing Management Systems in the year 2020. Part 2  

 

A customer of DtL Creative’s is embarking on a journey we are proud of. They are embracing our approach of creativity.

Almost 10 years ago when I founded the consultancy, I had two specific areas of focus. One was to only work in Social housing, which we still carry out to this day, and the second was to be Creative, hence the name DtL Creative. We like to think we are still creative 10 years on, in fact, I would say we are even more creative. We have recently held the first technology focused online digital conference for social housing and it was a great success. It was certainly creative. 

So, when we work with landlords and suppliers across the sector, we absolutely love it when we see others being creative. 

This small article highlights one customer and one supplier who are both willing to be creative, bucking the trends almost. The landlord we are talking about have for a number of years been willing to look outside the sector, indeed outside the UK to find cloud-based solutions. They were one of the first landlords to pursue an ‘all-in’ strategy, or should we say ‘all-out’ in looking at only cloud-based solutions. They marry this with a belief that they may well find better solutions outside the sector, again this is a bit different in those who find it a lot more comfortable and easier to go for the same old comfortable solutions that can demonstrate a track record in the sector. They may not be the best solution, but they may be the easiest choice. But hold on, who said business and ICT strategy was easy. 

As you may know DtL Creative work with both social landlords and software/tech providers in a range of areas, but one thing we like to do is to challenge both to think differently, to be innovative and to be creative. And I personally do not fall for the answer that housig needs the same software across the board due to all housing providers being the same. They are not! I do not also believe that innovation is not for the sector as there is no need for it. Too often we hear people say things like ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’. This is harmful and can be disrespectful to customers who may look at this as lack of enthusiasm and downright laziness to progress, especially if some others are bringing creativity and innovation to the table and leaving you behind. I worked for a landlord a long time ago now where the chief executive had a phrase where he would say, ‘but it has always been this way’ when challenged with the need for change. Arrgghh! 

So, change isn’t a bad thing, and neither is thinking differently. This rather nicely brings me to the option or the ability to look at less reliance on one piece of software as your chosen method of managing all the activities/tasks you need to look at as a landlord. Why not look at a series of ‘best of breed’ solutions that will do specific tasks well, in fact do them better than one big system could do. It is very difficult, actually near impossible for larger ‘catch-all’ companies to compete against specialists in the specific area of specialism. This is why companies like the large housing management system suppliers acquire smaller companies. Think about it. Why do they buy them? Just stop reading for a minute and think about it. Is it because they could have done it better over time and have invested more in it due to the sole area of focus they have been devoted to?  

In the previous article in this series titled ‘the world of housing management systems in the year 2020’ we looked at the more traditional set of housing systems as well as the new kids on the block, and then there was the build your own systems. However, there is one option we didn’t cover, as it opens up a completely new way of thinking so deserves a separate mention. 

We call it best of breed for the reasons given earlier. 

So is it a viable option? 

Of course, it is. I would even go as far as to say it is more viable than the build your own solutions. My thinking may be slightly different to others, but remember that is part of our company ethos, to encourage at least consideration of new ways of thinking. 

I could write a lot about this, instead for the sake of your eyes I will list some reasoning.  

  1. A great deal of investment has been made by specific companies in specific research and development. 
  2. Experts exist and are encouraged to continue down a path of research, improvement, both focused rather than diluted. 
  3. Specialists encourage innovation and are willing to pay for it for the sake of competition. 

The downsides, but again this can be addressed in due diligence and careful procurement.  

  1. They could indeed be swallowed up by a larger organisation. But hold on, remember we talked about the noise and confusion that exists, well, even the larger housing management systems suppliers get acquired, so roll your dice. 
  2. They fail. They do sometimes have large investment cycles that means they need to pay back funders. This puts pressure on their management and sales, and it could be a knife-edge of success/failure. The good news is that the scales are tipped in the favour of success.  
  3. You still need them to ‘talk’ to other systems, to integrate and work seamlessly with other systems. This is critical in your overall strategy and architecture, but again, the technology is there, but is your thinking? 

I do believe that this will be a bigger trend than you first think, so consider it. Give us a call and we can talk you through our experience of best of breed systems architecture.