Board 21 September 2021 - IT and Digital Strategy
Board 21 September 2021 - IT and Digital Strategy
1. Purpose of report
1.1 This report presents the IT & Digital Strategy for Board approval.
2. Background information
2.1 The strategy is intended to be the IT & Digital Strategy for YHN as a group (including Leazes Homes). The organisation has been without an IT Strategy for some years. Due to the IT function being split across a team at YHN and NCC delivering IT services and support to the organisation, the main focus has been predominately operational.
2.2 The challenges which the Covid pandemic presented us, customer expectations for digital services, and a need to ensure our IT & digital capabilities within the business are efficient and increase productivity, led to a clear direction from the Board that we needed to invest in IT and Digital at YHN, and this strategy aims to meet those challenges.
2.3 In April 2021, we invested in an IT Consultant to undertake a strategic review of IT at YHN, and this was used to collate our current position, gather insight from service areas and customers to create a clear strategy and vision for where we want to be in 3 years.
2.4 Board received a presentation at the away day in July on the findings from the strategic review and an outline of the key pillars of the strategy, which would provide focus on the Customer, Colleagues and the Business.
2.5 As part of the IT strategic review, a proposal for a fit for purpose IT service and structure has been considered, and a decision made by the Executive team to introduce a senior post into the IT service to drive the strategy. The role will have strategic responsibility for IT, data, and innovation as well as the coordination of business change across the organisation with a focus on ensuring the approach meets the needs of the business whilst delivering a great customer and colleague experience.
As the business lead for innovation, the role will also look outside the business and sector to identify opportunities to implement positive change which is aligned to the Business Strategy.
3. Link to Destination 2022
3.1 Our Destination 2022 Business Strategy set out lots of ambitions which required improvements to our IT & Digital offer, and our position remains the same. This strategy continues to focus on the key driver to be “easy to do business with”. We have also used the insight gathered to ensure the IT & Digital strategy will support the development of the next Business Strategy.
3.2 Of the strategic objectives, the objective to be a ‘Strong business fit for today, ready for tomorrow’ is clearly supported by this strategy.
4. Objectives of the IT & Digital Strategy
4.1 The IT & Digital Strategy is based around two key principles. Enabling and Effective, these mirror the principles in the NCC IT Strategy, this was important to keep a synergy with the council as the provider of the majority of IT services, infrastructure and support.
4.2The three pillars which were presented to Board at the away day, have been further developed and resulted in four initiatives in which the strategy is framed around:
- Customer digital offer
- Empower employees
- Use data more effectively
- Collaborative transformation
For each of these areas we have set out what this means and what we will do.
5. Financing the Strategy
5.1 The current approved budget spend for IT services for 21/22 is £2.5m. This covers our employee costs, support and maintenance services, equipment and the SLA with NCC.
The latest Board approved financial forecast included investment from reserves for IT/Digital over the next 3 years of £2.3m with an ongoing provision of £500k.
Whilst undertaking the review it was clear we needed to establish a fit for purpose IT team and bring in a senior lead to ensure that the investment requirements were fully scoped and costed in the right areas. The current review being undertaken by the consultant is exploring consolidating our application portfolio, a revised staff structure and a revised SLA with NCC. All these elements will be contribute to ensuring we can spend the investment from reserves on transformation to ensure we achieve the ambitions set out in the strategy.
The detail budget breakdown will be worked up for November, at the start of our financial planning for 22/23.
6. Risk implications
6.1 The following key risks on the Strategic Risk Register are particularly relevant as the Strategy seeks to reduce and control these risks:
SR6 Data & Cyber – by improving our systems, controls and data management policy we will ensure controls are robust, training will further reduce the risk of data loss.
SR17 Customer Expectations – having a customer-centric approach will aim to meet customer expectations and improve the customer journey with YHN.
Strategic risks will be continually monitored and reported through the relevant forums.
7. Conclusions and Recommendations
7.1 Board are asked to consider and approve the proposed IT & Digital Strategy.
8.1 The Strategy will be monitored at a high level by the Executive Team, to ensure the long-term vision is on track, and the appropriate budget and resources are made available.
8.2 The delivery of the strategy is key, and an annual implementation plan will be developed and monitored quarterly by the Corporate Management team.
If you have any questions about this report that you would like to clarify before the meeting, you can contact Jill Davison by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appendix 1 – IT and Digital Strategy
A robust IT & Digital Strategy is pivotal to all successful organisations, and YHN has faced considerable challenges in relation to the absence of a strategy over the past few years. In addition to this, COVID-19 has pushed us to rapidly change how we operate which has tested our IT and Digital capabilities as never before. As we enter into recovery phase from the pandemic, it is important to establish a long-term strategy for greater resilience and to apply lessons learned from the experience to create an IT & Digital roadmap that better prepares YHN for the future, and this strategy sets out our vision.
Our Destination 2022 Business Strategy set out some ambitious plans describing where we wanted to be in 2022. As we developed this strategy, our next Business Strategy post 2022 is also in development and the IT & Digital strategy has been written to support the future aspirations for the organisation.
Our vision “to be first for housing” still remains very much at the forefront of our strategic ambitions, and the last few years have highlighted our purpose “to make living easier” is even more important than ever. Our strategic priorities remain the same.
Where we are now
The technology landscape within YHN has evolved in response to the varying demands and priorities of the business over the last year especially in response to the pandemic.
Our recent IT focus has been providing an enabled workforce to continue to provide core services in an ever-changing working environment and to support customers to ensure they can access services in the absence of face-to-face support.
The majority of customer services are currently delivered via phone, email and in person. During 2021 we launched a new look website which began our customer digital offer with an improved portal. This on-line account allows customers to check rent accounts and report repairs and to date, just over 2000 customers have registered to use it. Phase 2 of this project needs to explore more functionality to improve the end user experience.
Our employees have been IT enabled from some time in the traditional office-based environment, last year saw the greatest transformation in relation to IT with now 94% of employees enabled to work from home (60% via corporate devices). Our frontline staff in Repairs and Construction are now enabled with mobile devices to ensure they are connected, but not all employees have the most effective solutions, and we can do more.
As a Housing Management provider, the core systems we use include Northgate Housing Management, Apex Asset Management and Kirona Repairs Management. In addition to these systems, we also co-own Abritas which is facilitates our Choice-Based Lettings Service.
Currently these systems are not full optimised and there is limited integration with elements of duplication resulting in inefficiencies. We are currently utilising Power BI for our data and performance reporting but not against a single data warehouse which restricts the ability to mine value from the data.
Being an ALMO we have strong links with Newcastle City Council (NCC), and they supply our infrastructure and network security. Most of our systems are on-premise with a small number of cloud solutions. We work in collaboration with NCC to provide support to our colleagues but accept this could be more joined up.
We feel our current service delivery model does not fully meet the current and future needs of the business or support our ability to engage customers in an effective and efficient way. Successful organisational change and transformation will rely on the effective deployment and use of technology and the empowering of our workforce to use it.
Where we are going
The YHN IT and Digital Strategy is framed to respond to current challenges as well as preparing us for the future and the challenges envisaged over the next three years to 2024.
Transform the capability of the IT service and create new ways of working in partnership with NCC to fully exploit the benefits of new and emerging technologies.
Better engage with the business and customers to create and deliver innovative, effective and customer centric solutions which support the strategic priorities identified in the business strategy and make YHN easy to do business with.
Based on these principles our vision is clear:
To deliver an effective IT and Digital offer that enables an amazing customer experience for all, inspired by the voice of the customer.
Our strategy over the coming years will be supported by four initiatives that need to be held in balance, resources and focus need to be shared among these areas.
How we will get there
This IT and Digital Strategy is shaped to support the next phase of business transformation with an emphasis on delivering increasingly joined up services that are effective and designed around the needs of service users.
Customer digital offer
The strategy will design and deliver customer-centric, accessible services providing a consistently great customer experience whatever channel customers choose.
The customer digital offer will cover all core services and support successful outcomes first time, and when ‘human-free’, at a time to suit them.
- Engage with our customers to get a real sense of their experience to inform improvements to our customer journey processes
- Enhance our website and develop a mobile app to provide a choice of effective gateways for customers
- Transform service delivery through integration of systems providing improved first contact resolution
- Develop our Customer Relationship Management System to provide colleagues with a single view of our customers enabling us to provide a joined up, holistic service
- Unify our customer communication channels providing customers with a consistent and continuous service independent of their method of communicating with us
- Acknowledge a proportion of our customers are in digital poverty and experience digital exclusion. Therefore, we will work with our Housing Services colleagues to support customers to enable them to go digital when they are ready.
The strategy will design and deliver user-centric, accessible systems providing a great user experience from anywhere. Employees will be actively engaged in transformation and innovation, making it easy to be Ready, Amazing, Revolutionary & Energetic.
The IT Service provided will be customer-focused with an emphasis on finding innovative solutions and continuous digital change.
- Invest in improving skills, attitude, and knowledge, both amongst our IT and operational colleagues
- Transform our systems to improve usability and eliminate duplication
- Introduce consistent processes
- Service Improvement Plan delivered to improve colleague experience
- Introduce a user-centric induction offer for new starters in collaboration with operational colleagues
- Encourage colleagues to discuss problems, ideas, and opportunities with IT at an early stage to enable solutions to be developed in partnership
- Move to a role-based approach to device and system allocation to ensure colleagues have the right equipment to do their job
- Introduce change control & improve asset management to minimise disruption to services and frustration for colleagues.
Use Data more effectively
Data will be a driving force in transforming the organisation’s services and decision-making.
- Educate our colleagues on the value of data and their role in protecting it
- Streamline our systems and processes to ensure data only needs to be entered in one place
- Develop a data warehouse solution which combines datasets to create one version of the truth
- Reconstruct our document libraries to remove obsolete items and digitise the remainder, then introduce guidance to effectively maintain it.
The strategy will create a collaborative approach to change & transformation that focuses on organisation- wide priorities and provides value for money.
- Introduce a cross-organisation panel accountable to the executive team and responsible for delivering transformation and change
- Develop a framework to ensure projects are managed effectively and deliver ROI
- Introduce a colleague group of innovators to help embed a culture of innovation across the organisation and be advocates for change
- Develop a strong network of like-minded organisations to share ideas and canvas tech providers to deliver in line with our ambitions
- Continuously horizon-scan to identify emerging technologies that we can exploit.
Underpinning Principles Through All We Do
We will move to a cloud-based environment, reducing in-house support overheads and creating the flexibility we need to meet our digital ambitions.
Maximising Existing Investments
Acknowledging we will always need different solutions to meet all our operational needs, we will ensure we maximise functionality available from existing systems
Buy not Build
We will focus on developing strong partnerships with key digital suppliers to meet our ambitions rather than creating ongoing support risks by developing in-house.
Collaboration with NCC
We will always have close connections with the City Council, and we will work hard to ensure this is maintained as our digital landscape evolves, whilst ensuring we receive value for money from their services.
Getting IT Right
We will ensure colleagues have the right equipment, applications, and support to deliver their services. We will ensure we take out risks to the business from outdated or unsupported systems, and poorly controlled changes.
How we will know when we’ve got there
Customer Digital Offer
A high proportion of customer services are delivered through our digital channels. Our customers choose to use these channels are they are communicated/promoted effectively, easy to use and result in great outcomes on first contact.
We have a digitally-engaged workforce who actively contribute to transformation and have high level of confidence in IT equipment provision, systems, and services.
Use Data More Effectively
We have well integrated systems which provide one version of the truth and confidence to rely on this to facilitate data-driven decision-making, with reduced risk of breaching data compliance rules.
Organisation resources are maximised to focus change on the right priorities and deliver on anticipated ROI. Everyone sees change as part of their ‘day job’ and actively participates in support ongoing improvements, transformation, and innovation.