Friday, 29 August 2014

Icing On The Cake

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



I have had so many requests for my Lemon Drizzle Cake story, then here it is. If you know me, I generally have told this story, to help people realise they need to change their systems, processes or ways. So here goes.

A young man, recently married, was amazingly impressed with his new wife. She was beautiful, witty, intelligent, understanding, down to earth and a fantastic cook. Her speciality was Lemon Drizzle Cake. It was light, sweet, more-ish and a perfect mix of tart and coconut flavours. One thing was getting to him though. Every time she made it, on retrieving it from the Aga, she cut an inch from the longer sides and threw them away.

One agreeable evening after a few beers and glasses of oaked NZ white wines, he asked her why she did that. After a bit of thought, she said "That cake is a special family recipe. My mother taught me to make it as a schoolgirl and that was a special part of getting the cake to taste the way it does". He responded by saying he could not quite get his head around that. Being the perfect wife, she understood and suggested he ask her mum, when they were there next on Sunday.

After the roast beef, Yorkies and al-dente veggies, his mother-in-law had baked the family Lemon Drizzle Cake. It was perfect, just like his wife's and had its sides missing. He took his opportunity and after the meal, asked her why the sides were cut off. She said she always binned those and it was his wife's granny, who had taught her to do that. The following week it was Mothers Day and as they all were going up to the old folks home, to see Granny, decided to ask her about it then.

The care home was quite luxurious and Granny had a very comfortable room, with a lot of her personal ornaments, pictures and other familiar stuff around her. After the presents were exchanged, he took his chance to bring up the Lemon Drizzle Cake, how well it was made by his young wife and mother-in-law.

"Ah yes!" She said. "That is a most delicious cake and a family recipe I have passed down. It must be made in a set way, otherwise is not as good, as it can be". I understand that, he said, but why on earth do you cut an inch off each end, as soon as it comes out of the Oven?

"Well", she said, turning around to the side table, and picked up an old, round Quality Street tin, "If I don't do that, it doesn't quite fit in here....".

I think you can realise from this, why we must constantly review in our processes, what and why we do things, to always check if they are still needed, appropriate and correct.


Get 'em to print this off and put this helpful picture in their pocket 8 - )

Related Post: Fooled Again - Make a better job of procuring software in future
 

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !

Martin TinTin Duffy – Icing On The Cake.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js. , 07854655009 , ," """" ",,#UKHousing,1st Touch,3squared, Acutence,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,App,Associates,ACL,Abritas,AMS,AX,aspireview, BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking, Blockwise, Block wise,BI,BancTec,BluTek,Bluebox, Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Cx,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics, CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS , CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Cashflow, COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Change management,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context,CIH,Chartered Institute Of Housing,Cadcorp,Cerrus Saturn,convergeOne,CACI,CPL, ChangeManagement Director, Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,datasystems , Microsoft dynamics GP 2013 ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,ERP,Elmhurst,Estatecraft,EDM,ESRI,Exponential-e, Finance,Financial Systems,Financials, Factorwise,Facebook ,Fusion, Getting best from,gotonysmith, Grasp,Grip,GeoSolveIT,GIS,GGP, HouSys,Housing software,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,hotpixuk, HousingIT,hotpix,Hardware,housingtITguy,Hitex,Housing Contact Company, Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,InMotion, InMotion2014, InMotion2015, InMotion2016 , Exhibition, conference, Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld, Innovation Group Apex,ITIL, In4Systems Promaster,IT,Insight, Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,Keyfax, Ledgers,Linkedin,Locality,Liquid Voice, MD ,Mr Void , MrVoid, Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Miracle Software,Management Reporting,MI,M3,MIS,MIS-AMS,Mobysoft, Northgate Codeman,Neighbourhoods and Communities, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,NINTEX , NINTEX workflow,Nintexworkflow, OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,OpenContractor,ORS,OneServe, PIMMS Data Systems, Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,People Value,Plus,Peoplevalue,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid,PRINCE2,prince,Pamwin, QL,QLX,Quiss,Qlikview, Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Reality,ReAct,reidmark,RM865, Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,thathousingItguy,"Housing It guy",Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, Systemwise,SM,Sequoa,Serros,SP,Scout,score,Swordfish,Serengeti,SOTI,south view,Sunguard,Service Charges, Template,Task,Terminal Services, tonys , tonysm , tonysmi , tonysmith, tonysmithth, tonysmiththa, tonysmiththat, tonysmiththath, tonysmiththatho, tonysmiththathou, tonysmiththathous, tonysmiththathousi, tonysmiththathousin, tonysmiththathousing, tonysmiththathousingg, tonysmiththathousinguy, sharepoint, share point Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,TED,Tagish Casework,TP Tracker,Telecetera,Tagra,Trace, UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits,UC,Universe,Unrest, UK, United Kingdom ,Ukhousing,UK Housing, Van Stock,Voice and data,Vantage Sentinel,Version One,Visualmetrics,Voluntas, Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Wheatley, Xmbrace,XML ,XenApp,Xen App ..

Friday, 22 August 2014

Everybody Get Dangerous

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

I donated a fiver to a very brave chap I know called Nigel (way braver than I, must admit), this week, to help fund a housing group by doing a skydive, to bring a big charity effort to Nepal, this autumn. It got me thinking, what's the most dangerous things I have done, should I get more on my 'bucket list'. "Get a bucket list" is number one on there, when I start one.

Reflecting on it, often the most dangerous thing we can do, particularly with our habits and work processes, is to always do what we have always done. That is even when things change, and as we all know, change can be our only constant at times. It's like a bust stop near me labelled 'Dog and Dart'. It's a pub that was demolished about 15 years ago, replaced with retirement housing. There's not even a round blue plaque on the wall declaring, 'One of Greenall Whitleys' abominable Grunhalle serving pubs, stood once on this spot, 1968-1999' or similar.



This note on someone's office stairs above (from Grace Hopper), sums it up. I have seen a few people print this and put it on the wall in their offices.

We need to continually question what we do, why we do it, what it's for, is it still relevant. I have a revealing 'change' story about a newly-wed and some super lemony, lemon drizzle cake, that's too long for here, but if you catch me at any of the conference events coming up http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-conference-season.html , I will be happy to share over a coffee/something stronger.
 
For many organisations, it's a special event, project or expenditure taken from a specific finance budget code, when processes, can be examined, to see how they can be improved. I do a lot of that work, so it's a familiar situation for me. It kind of runs through me like letters in a stick or rock, if you engage me or let me on your premises, I will be looking to change something for the better.

That 'better' is rarely to make savings, its increasingly to make people more efficient and free them to do a lot more of what humans do best. Sometimes, your systems hold your organisation back, other times it might just be your procedures. Here's an example. "Invoice authorisations require application of a rubber stamp and two signatures, before being passed for adding to the finance prelist".

Your auditors will be perfectly happy with the digital authorisation, in your HMS, by two (or even optionally 3 or more defined) people, restricted by your internal standing orders. They might of course insist that your passwords are changed monthly, are of 8 characters or longer and everyone logs in as their self into Windows with AD authentication. You just need an agent or prompt for change.

Auditors can be similar to dentists, visits should be regular and often. Leave a big gap and you can guarantee, it's going to be a painful visit. They generally see many organisations and can supply excellent signposting, particularly if they have other housing customers, with similar housing and financial systems as yourselves. Also take your cues from upgrade logs too. Once you have dissected the 30 new features from this year's 67 bug fixes, you have some new opportunities to do things differently.

Related Post: Fooled Again - Make a better job of procuring software in future
 
_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !

Weezer – Everybody Get Dangerous.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js. 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 ," ""07854 655009"" ",07854-655009,#UKHousing,1st Touch,3squared, Acutence,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,App,Associates,ACL,Abritas,AMS,AX,aspireview, #housing , BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking, Blockwise, Block wise,BI,BancTec,BluTek,Bluebox, Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Cx,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics, CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS , CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Cashflow, COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting, #UKhousing , #Digitalfirst , Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,ChangeManagement,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context,CIH,Chartered Institute Of Housing,Cadcorp,Cerrus Saturn,convergeOne,CACI,CPL, Change management Director, Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,datasystems , Microsoft dynamics GP 2013 ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,ERP,Elmhurst,Estatecraft,EDM,ESRI,Exponential-e, Finance,Financial Systems,Financials, Factorwise,Facebook ,Fusion, Getting best from,gotonysmith, Grasp,Grip,GeoSolveIT,GIS,GGP, HouSys,Housing software,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,hotpixuk, HousingIT,hotpix,Hardware,Hitex,Housing Contact Company, Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,InMotion, InMotion2014, InMotion2015, InMotion2016 , Exhibition, conference, Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld, Innovation Group Apex,ITIL, In4Systems Promaster,IT,Insight, Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,Keyfax, Ledgers,Linkedin,Locality,Liquid Voice, MD ,Mr Void , MrVoid, Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Miracle Software,Management Reporting,MI,M3,MIS,MIS-AMS,Mobysoft, Northgate Codeman,Neighbourhoods and Communities, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,NINTEX , NINTEX workflow,Nintexworkflow, OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,OpenContractor,ORS,OneServe, PIMMS Data Systems, Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,People Value,Plus,Peoplevalue,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid,PRINCE2,prince,Pamwin, QL,QLX,Quiss,Qlikview, Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Reality,ReAct,reidmark,RM865, Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, Systemwise,SM,Sequoa,Serros,SP,Scout,score,Swordfish,Serengeti,SOTI,south view,Sunguard,Service Charges, Template,Task,Terminal Services, tonys , tonysm , tonysmi , tonysmith, tonysmithth, tonysmiththa, tonysmiththat, tonysmiththath, tonysmiththatho, tonysmiththathou, tonysmiththathous, tonysmiththathousi, tonysmiththathousin, tonysmiththathousing, tonysmiththathousingg, tonysmiththathousinguy, sharepoint, share point Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,TED,Tagish Casework,TP Tracker,Telecetera,Tagra,Trace, UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits,UC,Universe,Unrest, UK, United Kingdom ,Ukhousing,UK Housing, Van Stock,Voice and data,Vantage Sentinel,Version One,Visualmetrics,Voluntas, Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Wheatley, Xmbrace,XML ,XenApp,Xen App

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Conference Season

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

Well, summer is barely gone and the autumn housing IT conference ramps up. There is a good reason why system suppliers enjoy this timing, it gives ICT System Managers good time to squeeze all those super products into next April’s budgets. You may call me cynical, but that's a fact. With that aside, Autumn 2014 looks to be a great period to learn more about what's out there and what your system supplier has put in the latest upgrade.

Orchard, Capita and DRS housing conferences pop up shortly and then this years 'Federation’s IT in Housing Conference and Exhibition 2014' event, becomes a two location affair this year. Although surely that one will cost suppliers double to do both, it will certainly reach more RSLs in the North.

So, how to get the most from your suppliers conference, beyond the almost obligatory free bar? If you are lucky enough to for your supplier using a venue like Alton Towers (you know who you are), ensure you ask for a rides ticket.

Choose some interesting sessions, on areas you may get more from with your existing system. Sessions run by other customers or outside consultants are often the most useful. Expect sessions to be positive though. No supplier would organise a car crash in a session intentionally, so if the subject matter did interest you, do as I do and chat to the presenters after the session, to gauge a more balanced opinion. Suppliers have good stories to tell, but you may well be implementing it in a different situation to others.

Talking of others, conferences are great places for making links with your peers, neighbours and other users of your package. This can be invaluable in sharing insight and knowledge. I have also seen old users of mine at MIS-AMS use contacts to gang up, to push the priorities of new features or module fixes, as a group. You might find that useful to consider. Most suppliers are happy to take feedback on board like that, to push products forward.

I find supplier user conferences invaluable too. Being truly independent, I find all switched on suppliers are pleased to make me aware of their new biggest and best developments. It certainly helps inform me when working with the variety of system applications I work with on a regular basis. It’s obvious that some leading suppliers are developing their systems very rapidly and from their user conferences, seem to be fulfilling delivery promises and expectations.

The National Housing Federation’s IT in Housing Conference and Exhibition 2014 bash also comes with a free drinks event, although this has become more subdued in recent years. Hopefully Documotive will sponsor that again this time. The sheer choice of suppliers you can see at London Olympia and this year at Manchester Central, is a big draw for me. In the last few years I have taken customers wanting to procure around similar suppliers, to make structured soft market assessments. If you are looking to try something similar this year, please be in touch.
Last year’s conference seemed much more focussed on RSL IT experiences and less on supplier pitches, which I believe is the way to go. Satisfied customers often sell solutions better than suppliers sometimes sell software. I am sure you would agree. As again, don’t be afraid to engage speakers after the session if feasible.

If you are booked into the conference circuit this autumn, do let me know. It would be great to share some war stories and a coffee or a beer in the (free) bar(!).

Related Post - Learn To Fly, the Housing Technology Conference

Here are the most important / relevant ones:

Capita's Everything To Everyone 2014 - http://www.capita-softwareandmanagedservices.co.uk/news/Pages/housingconference14.aspx
DigitalFirst at Salford Quays 29th September
Housing Technology SMAC Your IT up at the BT Tower, London, 3rd October - http://www.housing-technology.com/events/smac/  
Orchard Customer Conference 2014 - https://www.orchard-systems.co.uk/news/94b73d32-d118-42ed-9325-b170a7ee3b1f and My experience there
Optitime / Kirona DRS Conference - Chester -4,5th November - http://xmbraceusergroup.org/upcoming-events/next-user-group-meeting/
The Federation’s IT in Housing Conference and Exhibition 2014 - London Olympia and Manchester http://it.housing.org.uk/


_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !

Nitin Sawhney – The Conference.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js. 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 ," ""07854 655009"" ",07854-655009,#UKHousing,1st Touch,3squared, Acutence,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,App,Associates,ACL,Abritas,AMS,AX,aspireview, BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking, Blockwise, Block wise,BI,BancTec,BluTek,Bluebox, Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Cx,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics, CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS , CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Cashflow, COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context,CIH,Chartered Institute Of Housing,Cadcorp,Cerrus Saturn,convergeOne,CACI,CPL Director, Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,datasystems , Microsoft dynamics GP 2013 ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,ERP,Elmhurst,Estatecraft,EDM,ESRI,Exponential-e, Finance,Financial Systems,Financials, Factorwise,Facebook ,Fusion, Getting best from,gotonysmith, Grasp,Grip,GeoSolveIT,GIS,GGP, HouSys,Housing software,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,hotpixuk, HousingIT,hotpix,Hardware,Hitex,Housing Contact Company, Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,InMotion, InMotion2014, InMotion2015, InMotion2016 , Exhibition, conference, Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld, Innovation Group Apex,ITIL, In4Systems Promaster,IT,Insight, Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,Keyfax, Ledgers,Linkedin,Locality,Liquid Voice, MD ,Mr Void , MrVoid, Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Miracle Software,Management Reporting,MI,M3,MIS,MIS-AMS,Mobysoft, Northgate Codeman,Neighbourhoods and Communities, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,NINTEX , NINTEX workflow,Nintexworkflow, OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,OpenContractor,ORS,OneServe, PIMMS Data Systems, Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,People Value,Plus,Peoplevalue,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid,PRINCE2,prince,Pamwin, QL,QLX,Quiss,Qlikview, Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Reality,ReAct,reidmark,RM865, Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, Systemwise,SM,Sequoa,Serros,SP,Scout,score,Swordfish,Serengeti,SOTI,south view,Sunguard,Service Charges, Template,Task,Terminal Services, tonys , tonysm , tonysmi , tonysmith, tonysmithth, tonysmiththa, tonysmiththat, tonysmiththath, tonysmiththatho, tonysmiththathou, tonysmiththathous, tonysmiththathousi, tonysmiththathousin, tonysmiththathousing, tonysmiththathousingg, tonysmiththathousinguy, sharepoint, share point Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,TED,Tagish Casework,TP Tracker,Telecetera,Tagra,Trace, UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits,UC,Universe,Unrest, UK, United Kingdom ,Ukhousing,UK Housing, Van Stock,Voice and data,Vantage Sentinel,Version One,Visualmetrics,Voluntas, Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Wheatley, Xmbrace,XML ,XenApp,Xen App

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Trouble In The Message Centre

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

“A new typeface, another day....”

Several times over the last six weeks or so I have encountered a bit of groundhog type day with a number of the social housing customers, I have been working with. All are doing different things, introducing SMS text, internet portals, automated satisfaction, manual means of monitoring satisfaction etc. It amazes me how many of these projects are progressing more slowly than needed, due to poor source data. This is particularly prevalent where contact data, phone numbers and email addresses are concerned.

These days most housing associations and groups have reasonably efficient systems at recording different types of contact numbers, at various places in the customer journey. When you get ten minutes, have a look at your own system applications. You probably have a people module, with a concept of family (& other groups) and individual contacts. You probably have a contact number available on your responsive repairs and against the asset too. That latter one might have been the historic place to record a landline. If you hadn’t noticed, a lot of people are not even bothering with a landline these days.

About 7 years or so ago I remember doing a ACIH presentation at the CIH Octavia House in Coventry. The presentation was about better case management of ASB and other processes, using integrated modules of Housing Management Systems, which relied on good contact data for reporting. I recall Abigail Davies (Assistant Director of Policy & Practice), sharp as a tack, asking me that morning what my opinion was on how RSLs actually use those modules. A very relevant question, which I answered honestly as about 50/50, from anecdotal evidence.

Back then, few RSLs were using tenant internet portals and the like, automated texting and other things we all now take for granted, from our dentist, car servicing garage etc. Having accurate contact mobile, landline, work, carer and other numbers, also a reliable email address is now paramount to providing better customer service.

The better organisations have a set method of recording all contact numbers. This can be instigated by good training from day one, enforced by good managers and problems caught by exception reporting. It’s not rocket surgery to detect an ‘07’ number in a contact group home number field, or a ‘01’ , ‘02’ or ‘03’ number in an individual contact mobile field. On reporting this, it should also be possible to identify the member of staff involved, who might need help in getting this right in future.

What if you regard your contact numbers info to already be in a mess? Have you many thousands to clean up? How to tackle that? Maybe you would be best not even attempting an archaeological dig on it. Are you actually seeing the wood for the trees, are these difficulties just knocking your objectives into the long grass?

Thinking how you are looking to use the data can be the key. Where is your low hanging fruit? If you need a mobile number for response repair text alerts, put a procedure or (if you have the luxury of) scripting (Omfax / Locator) to capture, in the correct place for each repair request. Your organisation then has 100% of response repairs covered. On average then, within 2 years, your overall contact data should have improved to above 85%, based on an average of 1.7 repairs logged per tenant. While you are at it, why not ask to collect an email address too, so a reminder can also go to that and allow easy sign up to check where open repairs are up to and ability to log online 24/7?

If you use scripting, ensure the script checks and confirms various pieces of essential data, at sensible intervals. You decide, but maybe checking a mobile number at least each repair, landline/work number every few months, email each month, when any call or contact is recorded. As already mentioned in a previous blogpost http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/communication-breakdown.html you should be using your CRM system for all types of interactions, not just calls into your customer service centre. CRM data, then becomes a valuable resource for everyone in the organisation. Ensure they are all stakeholders in it.

Related Post - Call On Me

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !

Blur - Trouble In The Message Centre.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js. 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 ," ""07854 655009"" ",07854-655009,#UKHousing,1st Touch,3squared, Acutence,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,App,Associates,ACL,Abritas,AMS,AX,aspireview, BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking, Blockwise, Block wise,BI,BancTec,BluTek,Bluebox, Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Cx,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics, CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS , CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Customer Relationship Management Systems, Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Cashflow, COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context,CIH,Chartered Institute Of Housing,Cadcorp,Cerrus Saturn,convergeOne,CACI,Customer Relationship Management System, CPL Director, Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,datasystems , Microsoft dynamics GP 2013 ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,ERP,Elmhurst,Estatecraft,EDM,ESRI,Exponential-e, Finance,Financial Systems,Financials, Factorwise,Facebook ,Fusion, Getting best from,gotonysmith, Grasp,Grip,GeoSolveIT,GIS,GGP, HouSys,Housing software,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,hotpixuk, HousingIT,hotpix,Hardware,Hitex,Housing Contact Company, Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,InMotion, InMotion2014, InMotion2015, InMotion2016 , Exhibition, conference, Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld, Innovation Group Apex,ITIL, In4Systems Promaster,IT,Insight, Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,Keyfax, Ledgers,Linkedin,Locality,Liquid Voice, MD ,Mr Void , MrVoid, Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Miracle Software,Management Reporting,MI,M3,MIS,MIS-AMS,Mobysoft, Northgate Codeman,Neighbourhoods and Communities, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,NINTEX , NINTEX workflow,Nintexworkflow, OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,OpenContractor,ORS,OneServe, PIMMS Data Systems, Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,People Value,Plus,Peoplevalue,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid,PRINCE2,prince,Pamwin, QL,QLX,Quiss,Qlikview, Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Reality,ReAct,reidmark,RM865, Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, housing crm systems uk, Systemwise,SM,Sequoa,Serros,SP,Scout,score,Swordfish,Serengeti,SOTI,south view,Sunguard,Service Charges, Template,Task,Terminal Services, tonys , tonysm , tonysmi , tonysmith, tonysmithth, tonysmiththa, tonysmiththat, tonysmiththath, tonysmiththatho, tonysmiththathou, tonysmiththathous, tonysmiththathousi, tonysmiththathousin, tonysmiththathousing, tonysmiththathousingg, tonysmiththathousinguy, sharepoint, share point Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,TED,Tagish Casework,TP Tracker,Telecetera,Tagra,Trace, CRM systems for Housing, UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits,UC,Universe,Unrest, UK, United Kingdom ,Ukhousing,UK Housing, Van Stock,Voice and data,Vantage Sentinel,Version One,Visualmetrics,Voluntas, Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Wheatley, Xmbrace,XML ,XenApp,Xen App

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Love In A Void


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

Like death, taxes and divorce, voids are pretty much a fact of life in housing. If I had £50 (or around €63 in southern Ireland) for everyone who has ever told me voids were 'black magic' or a 'nightmare', I would have a fair contribution to my self invested personal pension by now.  But, why is it such a mystery and why does IT systems not sort it all out for us?

I have worked with many organisations over the years to review, set up, implement better use of ICT for void management, including recently improved void KPI reporting.

The issue is that a lot of the people flogging void systems out there are providing fragmented or needing to be configured solutions. So it's not an "Out of the box" type job. Still, let's look at it all from a John Seddon type perspective. what are we really looking to do?

Looking at what happens in reality, most tenants give 28 days (or similar period of) notice of vacating your property. Some abscond or they may be forced out by an executed NTQ however. The first point of call is generally a voids inspection. Most systems support this and very small organisations (200 properties or less), may even track this on a whiteboard in the office. If you manage 1,000 units or more and your voids/repairs team are using one, I would pop down to ask that team, why a system is not being used. Without a system, KPI reporting is problematic and time consuming, also prone to being detached from true elemental data.

Key dates are crucial. When notice was provided/abscond occurred, where pre-inspection picked up, void inspection completion, request of works, repair completion, available for letting date, match & offer date, tenancy start date. If you are using your internal workflow and tasking properly, tasking tray should rattle when (or just before) needed, in your users email inboxes.

Total void duration generates an asset charges void loss. IE a real loss of rental income. Systems that reduces this loss are always a good thing. Opportunities to carry out the void inspection as close to the resident giving notice can really assist here. In fact, many organisations I have worked with offer incentives, for residents to allow non disruptive void works in advance of leaving. £200 may be a great investment to halve void loss.

A decent use of asset management systems will detect those 'structural changes' that might have occurred throughout the tenancy. Now that might be a randomly fitted shower, a missing wall or a cannabis farm in the loft. Happily, regardless of what the Daily Mail suggests, the latter is pretty rare in social housing. Is your organisation practically capable of doing those kind of checks? A great idea I have seen some organisations utilise, is a short void video, maybe only 30 seconds or so, can show much about a property. A useful tool for easing Choice Based Letting & CHR take-ups, also for comparison when that tenant vacates. Hopefully, your tenants will have been informed on sign-up of what's permissible. IE curtain rails = good, removing supporting walls = bad, and that charges could be levied. Your asset management module may also track condition of white goods, meter readings etc.

This might now be an opportunity to complete any previously refused planned works, such as full rewire, kitchen, bathrooms etc. While this may extend the void period and necessitate recoding as a major void, it could increase desirability or rental income, if reclassified as a different type of let. Structured assessment of costs is an important element of this. It's possible that the void might be more valuable to us sold. Many RSLs set a threshold cost on voids and may consider sale if exceeded. Voids may well feed into any 'Living Will' planning. More details on that here - http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/living-wills-in-box.html

If you are lucky enough to have an internal contractor team and 20% VAT savings are available, be sure to measure that properly against local or national contractors, for accurate benchmarking. Be sure to use appropriate scheduling and mobile software to correctly sequence void works, thus further giving the potential for best use of trade operatives and other resources. It always amazes me, that a number of DLO's are afraid to measure performance/costs accurately. That is very prone to a board challenge, without facts, it is extremely difficult to challenge. I have always found facts my friends, opinions are for down the pub. More on DLO Contractor software here - http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/model-dlo-workers.html

Have you enough reporting to identify outlying voids. IE Ones taking more than 10 weeks. it's not enough just to report and document them. What are the reasons for these, is anyone responsible to turn these around faster or reduce numbers of these in the future? 

After repair works are completed, how do you monitor what factors determine "Available for letting"? Can your system assist you in this task? If a new repair is logged after start of the new tenancy, related to works in the void, how easy is it to track those failures? E.G. faulty ventilation.

So, how well does your housing applications and systems assist and support your voids team in turning them around within your target KPI time and communicating status changes to others in the organisation? While in most HMS systems, set up of void monitoring takes far longer than writing the address and some dates on a whiteboard, it does promote visibility for the wider organisation. getting your voids team to think of the big picture, rather than in their silo, will generate better performance for all.

Who knows, maybe rather than voids being a problem area, you can learn to love your voids! 

_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !

Read on to, the Twitter RSLs just doing 9-to-5... :
http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.com/2014/05/not-24-hour-party-people.html

Siouxsie and the banshees - Live In A Void.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js. 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 ," ""07854 655009"" ",07854-655009,#UKHousing,1st Touch,3squared, Acutence,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,App,Associates,ACL,Abritas,AMS,AX,aspireview, BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking, Blockwise, Block wise,BI,BancTec,BluTek,Bluebox, Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Cx,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics, CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS , CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Cashflow, COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context,CIH,Chartered Institute Of Housing,Cadcorp,Cerrus Saturn,convergeOne,CACI,CPL Director, Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,datasystems , Microsoft dynamics GP 2013 ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,ERP,Elmhurst,Estatecraft,EDM,ESRI,Exponential-e, Finance,Financial Systems,Financials, Factorwise,Facebook ,Fusion, Getting best from,gotonysmith, Grasp,Grip,GeoSolveIT,GIS,GGP, HouSys,Housing software,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,hotpixuk, HousingIT,hotpix,Hardware,Hitex,Housing Contact Company, Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,InMotion, InMotion2014, InMotion2015, InMotion2016 , Exhibition, conference, Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld, Innovation Group Apex,ITIL, In4Systems Promaster,IT,Insight, Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,Keyfax, Ledgers,Linkedin,Locality,Liquid Voice, MD ,Mr Void , MrVoid, Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Miracle Software,Management Reporting,MI,M3,MIS,MIS-AMS,Mobysoft, Northgate Codeman,Neighbourhoods and Communities, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,NINTEX , NINTEX workflow,Nintexworkflow, OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,OpenContractor,ORS,OneServe, PIMMS Data Systems, Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,People Value,Plus,Peoplevalue,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid,PRINCE2,prince,Pamwin, QL,QLX,Quiss,Qlikview, Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Reality,ReAct,reidmark,RM865, Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, Systemwise,SM,Sequoa,Serros,SP,Scout,score,Swordfish,Serengeti,SOTI,south view,Sunguard,Service Charges, Template,Task,Terminal Services, tonys , tonysm , tonysmi , tonysmith, tonysmithth, tonysmiththa, tonysmiththat, tonysmiththath, tonysmiththatho, tonysmiththathou, tonysmiththathous, tonysmiththathousi, tonysmiththathousin, tonysmiththathousing, tonysmiththathousingg, tonysmiththathousinguy, sharepoint, share point Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,TED,Tagish Casework,TP Tracker,Telecetera,Tagra,Trace, UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits,UC,Universe,Unrest, UK, United Kingdom ,Ukhousing,UK Housing, Van Stock,Voice and data,Vantage Sentinel,Version One,Visualmetrics,Voluntas, Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Wheatley, Xmbrace,XML ,XenApp,Xen App