With a hands-on, customer-centric approach to product development and a deep understanding of the sector, Ian Niblock, MRI’s Integration Development Director for social housing, is well-positioned to lead a dedicated team of individuals to bring our 2021 vision to reality. And the team has certainly made a strong start, with work taking place to enhance and unify UX and UI, our single sign-on Application Gateway, plus the creation of a new integration platform to deliver solutions more efficiently to clients.
With the coming together of Castleton, Orchard and Housing Partners into MRI Social Housing, how is your newly formed team structured?
Some experienced and knowledgeable people have come together across the heritage companies. Our combined team includes solutions architects, head of development and development leaders across a wide and diverse solution set. We have kept our team on the solutions with which they are familiar with their respective heritage companies. This is to ensure we continue to deliver planned enhancements, with the most experienced developer for that solution on-board. In these COVID-impacted times, our newly formed cross-functional team has come together virtually extremely well, and I look forward to getting the team together in the near future.
With the widest breadth of solutions now available to the social housing sector through one provider, what are the key goals and objectives for the year ahead with regards to product integration?
We are focused on improving existing integration options between all solutions. These enhancements are shaped by continuous feedback and suggestions from our client base, knowing that the improvements we are making are central to user needs.
With a wider solution set, we are now also exploring new integration initiatives – unlocking opportunities for clients to leverage the best solution for their requirements from across our whole suite. Take MRI Income Analytics as an example. This is a solution from the Orchard stable, but we are now working towards integration with the MRI Housing Management product that has come from the Castleton acquisition. Where a lack of integration or high development costs might have been a barrier to adopt new solutions in the past, our open and connected approach is helping clients overcome these challenges.
In addition, new releases this year will be coupled with alignment to the MRI look and feel – and users can expect to see UI and UX updates. We’ll be sure to use every opportunity to inform clients as these are implemented.
We are also working on our new standard integration framework. Once this platform is built, the efficiency and speed of multi-solution delivery for clients will be vastly improved. We are essentially looking to minimise development input during the implementation process and seamlessly hand this over to the GPS teams.
Finally, we are building a business intelligence platform as an offering to the MRI client base. Data continues to be a key talking point across the sector. Issues around data integrity, quality and data responsibility across organisations quite often become the biggest downfall or weakest link when getting IT projects off the ground. Worse still, it can become a barrier to an organisation’s ability to provide the desired level of customer service. MRI’s business intelligence platform will ultimately take data from an MRI or partner-supported solution and bring it all together into a single form, enhancing analytics and reporting.
What can clients expect to see early in 2021?
We’ve got some great integration projects lined up for the first three months of the new year, giving our clients easier access to a wider set of solutions. MRI Housing Professional (Castleton) clients, will be invited to preview how their software can integrate with MRI Income Analytics, a proven solution that helps to drive income collection and reduce rent arrears. MRI Housing Enterprise clients (previously Orchard Housing) can explore options to integrate with our latest MRI Document Management release as well as MRI Communications Manager, the sector’s leading SMS platform enabling instant and real-time communication.
No doubt, it’s going to be a very busy year for the team. The breadth of product offering from a single provider is unseen in the sector; but the focus, skill and dedication the team has coupled with the investment from being part of MRI Software mean we are extremely motivated for the year ahead. We see the real potential our enhanced solutions have to offer in the sector, and the real difference it can make to our clients.