We like to say that digital transformation in housing associations is a never-ending project. There isn’t an end date where the work stops. What it means to be truly digital is constantly evolving and organisations need to evolve with this fluid concept.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from what we’ve delivered so far. Taking the time to assess and evaluate progress, and key challenges of digital transformation can pave the way for more informed decision making as we continue to forge a digital future.
When we collected stories for Shift!, we asked a number of contributors from housing associations one final question: if you could go back and do it all again, what would you do differently?
Use the following quick links to get your answers faster:
Whether you’ve already started a digital transformation project or you’re just figuring out getting started, these words of wisdom from people who’ve been in your shoes might help guide you on our way…
“I would have started the marketing effort earlier. Our approach was: build first, market second. We might have started that earlier, in terms of the numbers of people”
– Dan Moraga, Housing Project Manager, PA Housing.
There’s no point in having a digital solution if no one knows about it. From the beginning of your digital transformation project, you need to think hard about how you plan to market it to your customers and drive adoption of digital as a channel of choice.
“Probably when we launched the website, we could have switched off some of the offline stuff earlier on, and gone to online only. [But] we wanted more information on how the website works; we didn’t want to push people online only for it not to work.”
– Rich Harvey, Head of IT at Housing Solutions
“Do it quicker. Why didn’t we do it before? We are looking towards integration… You could have integrated asset information. It’s very much a one-way module [at the moment]; the online system feeds the housing management system, but it doesn’t feed back. That’s something we are looking at.”
– Kevin Hornsby, Head of Tenancy Sustainment, Orbit Housing
Resource and budgets can have an impact on how quickly you can work – but picking up the pace early on in the project can have such a huge impact on the wider business that it pays dividends to make it happen faster.
Whilst Rich at Housing Solutions is right about not wanting to rush things for fear of failure, iterative performance capability testing and MVP modelling can make sure your solution delivers what it needs to without taking years to develop. Some options, like Franklin, can be up and running in minutes, not months – and it’s a tried-and-tested offering to avoid common errors.
Define your problems first
“I think we should have been really clear about the problems we’re trying to fix, not seeing digital as a panacea. If we had spent more time with that definition, rather than lots of digitising, we would be further forward.”
– Paul Taylor, Innovation Coach, Bromford Housing
Being clear about your problems is a key part of your project planning stages. Different stakeholders will bring different issues to the table, so you need to bring together a broad selection of people from across the organisation.
There’ll be conflicts of priorities and opinions, which need to be raised and clarified early on to avoid confusion and ensure your project has very clear aims and outcomes. If you barrel head first into trying to change everything all in one go, you’ll likely take much longer to see any results, whereas focusing on key areas can drive progress. Have a read of the 5 digital transformation challenges stopping your success...
Involve your customers
“We didn’t involve customers enough in the first wave, that’s why we’ve had to make revisions to the customer experience.”
– Matt Cooney, Chief Operating Officer PA Housing
That old adage about the customer always being right is, well, right. 73% of companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially than their competitors.
Your customers are the very people you need to invest in your online platforms – if they’re not built with them in mind, they’re destined to fail. Customer expectations are always increasing and your service offering has to grow with them. Check out exactly what your customers want from your self-service offering.
“I would be bolder! You can tend to get bogged down in the complexities and risks.”
– Steve Dungworth, Former Director of Digital Transformation, Accent Housing
Today’s technology is more than capable of delivering incredible things. The way we interact, transact and communicate digitally can open new pathways for people whilst fundamentally transforming your business for the better. So be bold in your ambitions!
We love working with housing associations that want to push boundaries and innovate. The organisations that see success are the ones that put everything they can towards delivering digital solutions that drive advocacy and break down barriers.
All quotes are taken from Shift! How to Make Channel Shift Happen in Housing.
Want to read more from our book, Shift? Written exclusively for housing professionals, it’s got over 150+ pages of actionable insights and real examples from digital transformation projects in the sector. We want everyone to have access to what we’ve learnt from writing it, so we’re giving away free copies – request yours now!