Case Study: Octavia Housing
· Digital Inclusion a business priority
· 'Smarter Working' links SeeMyData to Octavia intranet
· Better document security
· More efficient communication
- Systems and Information Manager
- Sales & Marketing Manager
Octavia Housing was founded in the 19th century by Octavia Hill and her work with the poor and disadvantaged made her a pioneer for Social Housing as we know it today.
The company's current vision of "Create an organisation that tenants really value" is still consistent with her ambition of helping poor and low income families.
Today Octavia Housing sees itself very much as an organisation that is focused upon the needs of its customers.
Adrian Newman, Systems & Information Manager explains. "At Octavia we aim to provide a 'hands on' level of support and care whilst passionately adhering to Octavia Hill's original values. We aim to provide value for money to our residents and to keep our costs as low as possible and this is a real challenge given that much of our property stock is in the affluent London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea."
SeeMyData and Octavia began working together in 2009 and the importance of their resident portal within their business continues to grow.
Adrian expanded: "Digital inclusion is an absolute priority for our business and has been for a number of years now and we firmly that this will continue to be so in the future. Several years ago we carried out some work which told us that 45% of our residents had access to the internet in one form or another. In 2013 that figure has grown to 80%. We are finding that our residents are far more 'tech savvy' than they ever used to be and that means more aware of the capabilities and potential of the internet."
Octavia already had an intranet for their business when they decided to ally the functionality of SeeMyData along with their own solution/systems.
The result was the "Smarter Working" project that gave staff entry to the Octavia intranet via a hub, and residents access to a customer 'self-service' portal.
This initiative has improved the whole organisation's communication and as Adrian elaborates: "We wanted one solution that made communication across the entire organisation much easier. Working in conjunction with Quince Associates we configured their SeeMyData product to dovetail with our own Document Management System as well as our CRM. So for the first time any communication from our residents could be incorporated into our workflows. This has helped to begin streamlining many of our internal processes."
The results are beginning to bring extensive benefits.
According to Adrian: "The Smarter Working Project gives us as an organisation three significant benefits. Firstly it has improved our document security. This is because of the way that we now save all documents is far more robust. That means that we can control much better who has access to any sensitive information.
Secondly the company's overall visibility has improved because it is much easier for both tenants and staff to access personal and property information.
Thirdly and probably the biggest win for us is that we have begun to evaluate so many of our business processes. We very quickly realised that some communication was not working at all in the way that we expected and we have been able to address those areas. We now feel that the overall communication within our business is far more pro-active and customer focused. And that is exactly what Octavia Hill intended all those years ago."
But it's not just the organisation that benefits here: "Residents too have benefited from this project with improved access to Rent Statements, better visibility of the Repairs process and the capability of communicating directly with, us their landlord or to third party websites, all at the click of a mouse."
Adrian continues: "We are now making a concerted effort to signpost our residents to our portal and we continue to try and raise the awareness of its capabilities. Resident conferences, monthly newsletters, as well as Resident focus groups all now regularly feature information about the portal."
Adrian contemplates the future:
"Like most people we are convinced that web access will play a bigger and bigger part in our everyday lives and as our tenants embrace this it's crucial that here at Octavia Housing we can support them and develop our support structure for them in line with their needs. Smart Phones, Tablets and Digital TV are clearly the way forward and the development of our "Smarter Working" allows us as an organisation to continue to meet the ever changing needs of our residents".