Central Bedfordshire Council

Review of the housing applications architecture

Review of the housing applications architecture, develop an options appraisal to support future modernisation and simplification, and set out a roadmap for delivery.

About the project

We were appointed by the housing service at CBC to review their IT systems and services and to make recommendations on the future systems portfolio and service operation. To support the delivery of the housing service, the council uses a housing management system with a further 30+ systems that provide additional functionality outside the core system. This includes a CRM, mobile working, contractor, asset management, CBL, and content management system.

In assessing the IT systems and services, we undertook consultation with Executive stakeholders to understand key business challenges and priorities. These conversations enabled us to obtain a consensus around the key problems that the future state architecture is looking to resolve, the expected outcomes and a high-level understanding of what success would look like in the short, medium and longer term. We engaged with the housing IT team to understand the current applications architecture and data flows and to identify any areas that needed to be considered about the future state applications architecture. We also engaged with the corporate IT service as areas of support were split between both parties and the review needed to consider not only the systems but the support services that maintained it at a strategic and day-to-day operational level.

Our infrastructure experts reviewed the current infrastructure arrangements to highlight elements that needed to be addressed to enable the Council to achieve its objective to move to cloud-based systems, setting out a plan to achieve this most cost-effectively and securely. We consulted with managers and front-line users of the systems to discuss their requirements, the perception of the current capabilities, and how limitations of the current systems and access to data were impacting the staff and the end-point customer service. This allowed us to understand how the systems were supporting operations and the customer experience.

Results

These discussions were framed to suit the different service areas across the business to ensure that the requirements of the wider housing and associated services were considered. The conversations did not focus solely on technology; rather viewing it as an enabler; part of the toolbox to deliver higher quality services for customers, with staff having the right tools to do their jobs effectively. Having gathered sufficient information, we worked with the incumbent provider to understand how they viewed the system and the relationship with the Council. This identified several quick wins to address some of the system issues that were being faced but also exposed weaknesses in the relationship between all three parties – supplier, housing IT and corporate IT. On that basis, we developed a new TOM for the local housing IT service which strengthened the relationship with the corporate IT service and proposed the introduction of a new governance model which would address issues that all parties were facing.

We also included in the TOM the relationship with suppliers and established a clear plan for who would own the relationships and how they would be managed going forward. As such, we were able to introduce new performance measurements which ensured that suppliers delivered to contracted terms reducing the demand on in-house IT teams. This also provided further clarity for operational staff enabling them to better understand how service requests would be managed going forward and enhanced the ability for Council staff to influence the suppliers in respect of new developments and enhancements.

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