Lanarkshire Housing Association has implemented component accounting software from MRI Software (MRI), in a drive to tighten and improve current processes and maintain compliance with FRS 102. Replacing its spreadsheet based process, the association required a proven commercial product to improve reporting, forecasting and data integrity and selected MRI’s solution based on its outstanding reputation across the housing industry.
Established in 1978 and based in Motherwell, Lanarkshire Housing Association Ltd is a Registered Social Landlord which provides and delivers a variety of client services including rent collection, repairs, programme of improvements, planned maintenance and housing management services. With a turnover of £4 million, its housing stock comprises 920 wholly owned units and 45 shared ownership units throughout Lanarkshire.
With almost 7,000 assets to account for, Lanarkshire Housing Association decided it was time to shelve its onerous and time consuming spreadsheet process. It had reached a stage where its growing £27.7 million asset base – comprising of components such as land, roof, structure, windows, kitchens, heating systems and bathrooms – required a more rigorous and intelligent solution to ensure financial transparency and continued compliance with the latest FRS 102 requirements. Laurie Boles, Finance & Corporate Services Director at Lanarkshire Housing Association comments, “We were seeking a software supplier who is experienced in the Social Housing sector as well as a solution that provides value for money, is easy to use, intuitive and flexible in query access and reporting.”
Boles continues, “We evaluated a couple of systems but MRI was chosen due to its excellent track record in delivering component accounting software and expertise within the housing sector. The defining factor was witnessing it working in a live housing environment and obtaining positive feedback from its other housing clients regarding its ease of use and smooth migration.”
Primarily, MRI’s software is used for recording and monitoring the component level detail of the association’s housing stock. It dovetails into its annual accounting process and enables the organisation to undertake more accurate depreciation forecasting during the financial year, where previously this capacity was limited due to the complexity posed from using the spreadsheet methodology. Sector specific functionality such as the quick and easy import of component replacement assets and the linking of associated component and grant records to the property unit is also heavily used, which has played a key part in streamlining departmental processes and improving productivity.
The most evident benefit, however, is the time saving efficiencies realised across the team. Boles comments, “The preparation of the Fixed Asset Note was time consuming and required managing large volumes of data. Since the implementation of MRI’s component accounting software, the preparation time alone was reduced by two weeks compared to previous years.”
Having the capability within the software to produce the financial reports in the format of the Annual Accounts provides Lanarkshire Housing Association with the peace of mind of being fully compliant with FRS 102. Data integrity is greatly improved as there is no manual intervention required; this has been further validated by its external auditors following the recent year-end audit process, which is a big plus for the association.
There is now a greater level of confidence in the housing association’s attitude to component accounting. Boles explains, “Previously, we approached component accounting as an annual task, but now we are using the software proactively as a forecasting tool in operational and longer term financial plans.”
Boles concludes, “I have been very impressed with the level of service provided by MRI. The whole user experience both pre and post implementation was excellent and the expertise and planning demonstrated by the MRI sales and technical support teams were first class. I would highly recommend MRI’s software to other organisations.”