The future is digital for Hanover Housing Association

Large housing association, Hanover, has been supporting people with housing and services in Scotland for over 40 years, with almost 5,000 homes and over 600 staff members. Its main focus is on helping older people, encouraging independence within their communities.

Hanover Housing Association’s current executive team came together during the pandemic. They’d built a corporate plan but didn’t have the resources in place to deliver the major changes the plan needed, especially around ICT. Hanover’s Strategic Finance Director, Donna Henderson, had taken over ICT six months previously, and was working on a massive modernisation piece, but finding that progress was limited because of competing priorities.

Having seen one of Golden Marzipan’s Breakfast Briefings on digital transformation, she shared it with the executive leadership team and decided that we’d be a great team to understand, assess and guide their own digital transformation.

Starting the project

We initially interviewed all major stakeholders, leaders and the ICT team so that we could get a good understanding of the current situation. We assessed their digital maturity to understand where any barriers or gaps were that needed addressing.

The Marzipan Way is a framework for managing digital transformation in social housing. The latest version incorporates our learning as a consultancy operating in digital social housing. It is presented as a set of standards, or as we now frame it; “what does good look like?” You could take just one of those 16 different standards and workshop it through to a solution for your own organisation. Or you could take one of the four themes and review your strategy, roadmap or risk controls and assurance. This is what we did with Hanover.

It transpired from the Hanover assessment that more work needed to be done before the digital strategy was produced, meaning that there were high-risk priorities such as cybersecurity that needed immediate attention at the same time as the strategy was being developed and approved. These priority projects just couldn’t wait, so we worked with Hanover on getting those moving, quickly sourcing staff to build a team that could cope with the competing priorities.

Engaging with their stakeholders to ensure their views and ideas were fully considered as part of the review was paramount to Hanover, which we planned to address through:

  • Planning and data collection – providing expert advice in structure and job design and
    helping to draft business case and impact and risk assessments
  • Supporting HR business partners through the formal consultation and service review stage
  • Implementation – facilitating and supporting external recruitment and vacancy filling.
  • Review – providing impartial insights on the service review

A digital roadmap

The roadmap we produced for Hanover focused on their priorities – short-term; one-year and long-term. In the short-term, we were focusing on:

  • Restructure, resource and relaunch the ICT Team with a focus on ITIL Service Management
  • Review ICT and corporate risk registers and address high risks
  • Create a one-year roadmap of priority projects

Once these were done, we built up the plan to take Hanover steadily from the quick wins early in year 1 to longer-term goals around governance and mindsets.

Barriers to implementation

One major barrier was that Hanover was their legacy systems, and moving systems into the cloud, although they knew that it needed to be done at some point.

We produced a strategy report, which was finalised following discussions with the housing association, and then worked closely with the team to understand where the gaps were when it came to internal resources. We provided interim support to handle the risks, which enabled the approach to be formed and delivered.

With a general dissatisfaction with their core systems, we talked through considerations for moving their system architecture to cloud technologies. We carried out a small procurement exercises for software and technical services.

The Marzipan team

“Throughout the whole process, we have provided critical friend support and reassurance to Donna” said Steve Dungworth, Director of Golden Marzipan.

Our opinion was that Hanover needed to add investment in capacity-building – this is how they would design and deliver the future Digital Hanover. We made some recommendations for team restructuring, recruitment, and best practice approaches to ensure alignment with their corporate strategy.

“We wanted to resolve some urgent and significant risks”, said Steve, and so Golden Marzipan sourced a technical manager to lead this.

The future is digital for Hanover

“From being aware there were issues to having a foolproof plan to de-risk and fully embrace Digital Transformation, Golden Marzipan were with us every step of the way right from delivering the hard truths to team building and strategising with the new Digital Team”, said Donna.

Hanover Housing Association now has a new team in place. While there are some more team members still to recruit, the current team is busy working through the priorities of the digital strategy.

Their digital plan for the next four years has now been approved, and the team are clear on their objectives, approach and timeline until 2027. Golden Marzipan is still offering project management and assurance support.

Donna Henderson, Strategic Finance Director, Hanover Housing Association

Donna summarises it best: “It’s been an at times a difficult but enjoyable journey, made all the easier by having the expertise and support of Golden Marzipan. They listened and took the time to understand the business, and listened when we explained the direction of travel we wished to take. This was partnership working in the truest sense.”

A playbook for recovering a stalled programme

Our playbook will help you effectively navigate challenges, implement tried and tested solutions, and ensure a successful, sustainable recovery. Discover a powerful, step-by-step guide on how to breathe new life into your stalled transformation programme.

You might also like...

Want content like this straight to your inbox?

Be the first to hear about our fresh content, new downloads and Breakfast Briefings, all about making effective change.