This week we held our latest Innovation and Technology Hub best practice group. There were some key themes for our conversation which we’ve outlined below.

These are really useful and engaging discussions and are free to all of our members. A link to our next group meeting is included at the end of this update.

Setting up transformation projects

  • It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get team members to leave their roles to be on change programmes
  • Good change takes time and this is hard in smaller teams. Change is often rushed and systems are not joined up. It makes change fragmented, so it benefits one part of the business, but has a negative impact on another.
  • When people are moved into change teams it leaves gaps in other parts of the business. Tenants and staff suffer because of the gaps that are left.  Investment in resources in needed.
  • Larger landlords have a Project Management Office (PMO) which provides governance on change projects – smaller landlords don’t have the resources or skills set to manage this.

Recruitment, retention and skills

  • This may be the biggest issue for sector. It’s an employee led market at the moment and wages are spiralling for people who have the skills to deliver digital change.
  • Staff have more choice on where they work – and they want to go to places that understand the value of their roles. They don’t want to work for leaders who don’t understand digital and data.
  • The top reason for retention is skills development – second is money.
  • Staff recruitment is especially hard for smaller teams. Some are now developing a ‘grow our own’ policy to invest from within and build / train people up. The Apprenticeship Levy was suggested as a way to invest in people
  • Specialist essential resources such as Enterprise Architecture and cyber security, etc. are expensive – especially for smaller organisations and these skills may need to be brought in ‘as a service’ to help reduce costs and mitigate risk.

The role of leaders and organisational structure

  • Leaders get confused between an IT strategy and a technology roadmap – they want to see tech, but don’t understand what needs to sit behind it. A strategy needs to start with understanding business strategy and challenges.
  • The group discussed how IT departments should be rebranded to cover their wider roles – the job needs to feel more integrated in the running of the business.
  • There are legacy issues around where IT sits, and structures are holding organisations back.
  • The group suggested there needed to be at least one Board member with a digital portfolio – this could also done on an advisory / retainer type basis, and possibly shared with other landlords. They also suggested all organisations should employ a Chief Information Officer at least on a part time basis to bring skills to the top level.
  • The big risks were around cyber security and data governance.
  • The group also called for specialist support in the Prop Tech market – as this is not traditional ‘tech’. Lines are getting blurred between what would fall under the responsibility of asset management and what would fall under IT or change teams.  Asset management are more likely to replace systems like-for-like when there may be better solutions out there.
  • Lots of landlords are starting their journey on data dynamics – but we need the experts who have been on the journey before. At the moment lots of people are walking through the fog in this area.

Our next Best Practice Group will be held in September – you can sign up here.