Managing rich and complex relationships with tenants and stakeholders is not without its challenges for housing providers. In the past, housing organisations may have found themselves hamstrung by legacy software packages that weren’t flexible enough to meet users’ and customers’ diverse needs. Existing housing-management tools often had to be shoehorned into meeting requirements and weren’t up to the task of underpinning meaningful business transformation. A new generation of software packages, including tools such as Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, are now opening the possibilities for housing providers.
So how can housing companies extract the most value from their Dynamics 365 implementations, and how can their IT departments integrate Dynamics 365 with the software platforms they already use? La Fosse Associates brought C-level execs, heads of IT, and sponsors of 365 programmes together to share their learnings at a recent event – here are their key takeaways on how to get the most from the platform.
Go Beyond Pricing: Think Hearts and Minds
Any new software implementation comes with new costs, and it’s that initial bill that can leave boards reluctant to invest. While it may be tempting to try and argue the case using ROI, IT chiefs may be better off persuading board members through a ‘hearts and minds’ approach.
CIOs need to show just what a 365 implementation can enable – for example, providing a better solution to compliance challenges, enabling deep-dive data analysis, or offering a platform that enables growth and digital transformation. IT departments need to ask the question of what’s the viable alternative: is doing nothing with software an option when the company is looking to expand or reinvent itself?
Consider Collaboration as A Future Strategy
Many processes within the housing sector, from inspections to repairs, are similar from one company to another, yet it’s common for organisations to rely on systems integrators for individual workflows – leaving SIs to retain the IP.
Collaboration between organisations could be the way forward - for example, by setting up a joint venture to create and share IP. However, this course will require CEOs and CFOs from diverse companies to begin talking and working together to find a solution. Similarly, a more collaborative approach to licensing could serve the sector well and may become more of a possibility as mergers continue among housing providers.
Be Prepared to Support Smaller Players
There’s a schism in Dynamics providers on government frameworks: smaller, more nimble suppliers targeting housing providers aren’t available, while the larger software companies dealing with 365 aren’t suitable for housing associations. Although it’s not necessarily hard to get smaller companies onto G Cloud, younger companies and start-ups may need a helping hand to join the framework.
If housing associations have smaller suppliers they’d like to work with, they should consider supporting those companies to join government frameworks or talk to larger suppliers or integrators about how they can work with start-ups.
Stick to Your Guns on the Strategic View
IT heads are often asked to take a long-term strategic view and come up with broad technology programmes that are costed out accordingly. If execs don’t get the budgets they need to sustain a 10-year view, it can be tempting to fall back on creating short-term tactical solutions – that can become a problem further down the line.
Ideally, CIOs should try to keep their strategic view in mind when planning for the near term: integrating new tools with a legacy package may be the right strategy today but doing it while planning a wholesale replacement in five years’ time could steer the project in a whole new direction, and one that will prove ultimately much more fruitful.
Use Dynamics to Start Preparing for IoT
Two factors – improvements in data gathering and analysis, and the installation of connected systems in properties – among housing providers and their suppliers is laying the foundations for the use of Internet of Things systems.
Housing organisations are unlikely to have their IoT strategies fully fleshed out, giving IT departments an opportunity to lead the conversation and show how IoT can become part of service delivery models in the future. Dynamics’ end to end workflows and visibility of information means it’s well placed for a role in future IoT deployments.
Streamline Your Hiring Process to Attract the Best Dynamics Talent
Housing providers are struggling with the cost and availability of the skills they need to support Dynamics 365. Other sectors, such as retail or financial services, are more appealing to top talent and can offer better salary packages, which often means housing organisations lose out on the best candidates.
For those in need, one strategy that can pay dividends is to secure talent through a third party. Work in partnership with an agency you trust to help you deliver your projects on time. Talent moves fast in today's candidate-driven market, and they'll have the necessary resources and network to quickly source and secure talent before they're scooped up by someone else. By streamlining your hiring process with just one agency, you'll have more time to focus on the project at hand, while simultaneously bringing some outstanding individuals on-board. Plus, by working with just one agency, you know you can trust them to represent your brand well in the wider market and is a lower cost for your business.
Have something to add? Join the conversation, get more information on the event, or if you'd like to attend future events, please contact Jack Holmes:
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Jack leads the CRM contract recruitment team, who specialise in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce.
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