To adopt technology faster, social housing leaders should ask their IT Team what support they need to lead the organisation on the journey. Here’s what we, here at Golden Marzipan, think they should identify:
- understanding the costs and an ongoing commitment to investment – you will probably be changing your approach from “buy” to “lease” models
- developing a collaborative partnership between IT department and business change leaders to create an agile environment to find organisation-wide benefits
- putting in place the people, compensation, and career development policies to attract and retain the ICT talent required
During the past 20 years, housing providers have invested in hardware and systems through capital investments and big projects. The biggest benefits accrue to the business from faster time-to-use, touch screen technology, and wide-scale adoption. Cloud platforms can enable agile teams in days rather than months.
However, it may seem you are paying for everything twice as you replace depreciation costs with ongoing license costs and maintain legacy applications that cannot be integrated into new cloud software versions.
If you continue with the old way however, projects will continue with long lead in times funded through the uncertainty of annual budget setting exercises. Software in general (and cloud platforms in particular) require more stable, ongoing funding and consistent “ownership” to mitigate “technical debt”.
The ICT department may not exist for much longer… well not in its current form. Every team is a digital team! It will help if you think about an integrated system rather than a set of individual technologies. Doing so implies organisational change across all of the business functions as well. A mindset should be on end-to-end customer and employee journeys with analysts, developers, trainers and support embedded in operations teams.
Business leaders should be encouraged to appoint knowledgeable decision makers as product owners for each business function. Too often, business units appoint product owners who are too new or too junior, and who lack either the knowledge or the influence to make change stick. I hear many managers suggesting that they want to change their processes without the wherewithal to make it happen. Look instead for characters capable of thinking broadly and strategically and can influence people to undertake rapid process change.
This leaves the ICT techies in their darkened rooms to provide access, security and seamless stability. A good IT team should NOT be seen or heard! From experience, please feed them regularly! 🙂
Risk and Reward
It’s easy to let worries about security, resiliency, and compliance stop a change programme. Instead of letting risks derail progress, leaders should insist on pragmatic board level discussions on risk appetite that reflects the business strategy. You can’t aim to the “best” without examining risks in the context of doing nothing or maintaining existing legacy systems without benefits.
As COVID19 has shown, leaders and boards can quickly translate technical and complex risks into practical solutions. If you or your colleagues feel bamboozled by the language of technology and technology practitioners then you need to learn the language, bring in boardroom expertise or ask someone like Golden Marzipan to provide occasional and critical friend support. We can translate as well as transform!
One of your biggest risks may be the capability and capacity of your ICT team. If you are to gain value from the cloud, your IT department should become more agile, if it isn’t already. This means bringing agility to your IT infrastructure and IT operations as well.
If you are reviewing your ICT or digital strategy in the light of COVID19 please get in touch for a free advice on the factors you need to think about.