Daniel Killian, Assistant Housing Director talks about their path to digital and service transformation with the help of MRI. The Council have recently taken on a host of integrated solutions including Housing, CRM, Asset Management and Mobile working, all on a hosted platform.
Under the extreme conditions brought on by this global pandemic, Gravesham Borough Council was not deterred in its objectives to find a suitable IT partner that can help fulfil the specific goals laid out in its change agenda. Daniel Killian, Assistant Director (Housing) at Gravesham has led the charge and discusses the journey that led the Council to an exciting new partnership with Castleton Technology – now part of MRI software.
Gravesham’s existing housing management system (Capita Academy) was coming to end of life. Daniel and his IT team wanted to use the opportunity to take a deep dive into other software providers in the sector.
There were several requirements, but the fundamentals came down to this; Gravesham was looking for true digital innovation – platforms that provide intelligent customer insight and a quality digital experience, putting customers first. A resilient IT solution that transforms services and delivers a dynamic working environment for obvious cost and operational efficiency benefits.
Daniel commented “Change at this scale is an investment and an important one to get right, first time. Through our selection process and rigorous criteria, Castleton offered a modern, ‘modular’ and flexible Housing Management system that was not only easy to use but ticked the box for integration with our existing solutions.”
Lifting the lid on Castleton
Gravesham has taken on multiple integrated solutions from Castleton over a three-year contract – namely Housing, CRM, a self-service customer portal ‘.Digital’, Mobile working ‘Agile’, Asset Management, Service Charges, Dashboards and Arrears Forecasting. All privately hosted in Castleton’s datacentre.
“During the process, Castleton set-up a number of webinars with their existing customers who gave us a no-holds barred view of the solutions and the support they get from Castleton. This was an important factor for us as we weren’t getting a sales pitch, but valuable working knowledge of the solutions in real working scenarios.
“We are looking forward to continued collaboration with Castleton’s wider network of customers. We are also working collaboratively with Castleton to further develop the Arrears Forecasting solution to better suit our requirements, which is something that Castleton are open to as they believe this can benefit other housing providers also.”
Controlling the direction of travel
Gravesham’s skilled IT team wanted to ensure any new housing system implemented was flexible enough to allow them to maintain, configure and expand on (for example, developing workflows) – so they could completely control the direction of travel. “This is exactly what Castleton can provide us with,” said Daniel. “We were attracted to this level of flexibility within the solutions, as my team is agile enough to make these configurations without going back to Castleton and adding additional development cost. We found other supplier solutions to be more rigid and locked-down, which can suit some IT departments but for us, the modular and flexible approach particularly impressed.”
Stand-out solutions in the cloud
Castleton’s CRM, mobile working solution ‘Agile’ and self-service portal ‘.Digital’ were stand out solutions for Gravesham, giving the council one view of its customers and all customer touch-points, thanks to ease of integration between the solutions. Gravesham opted for full hosting across these solutions, a process made easier with Castleton’s G-Cloud accreditation.
“The fact that Castleton were already on the framework ticked further boxes for us. We know SaaS is the future and we don’t have to worry about downtime or resource intensive upgrades on local servers – Castleton just takes care of it.” commented Daniel.
Castleton – now an MRI software company
With the recent acquisitions of Orchard, Castleton and now Housing Partners by MRI software, Gravesham welcomed the positive news. Throughout the lockdown period and the ongoing MRI transition, Castleton have remained focused on customers – ensuring immediate remote-working needs are met and resuming (albeit remotely) vital implementations across customer sites. The continued work with Gravesham has been no different.
Jimmy Rogers, New Business Sales & Marketing Director at Castleton said “We are delighted about this partnership and it’s testament to our integration capabilities and continual innovation behind our solutions – designed for 21st century housing management.
Working closely with Daniel and his team over the past few months, we’ve really got to grips with the Council’s strategy and their corporate objectives are completely aligned to their core principles and values, that will support their tenants and the wider community. We are incredibly proud to be part of Gravesham’s journey and determined to do our part to help them succeed in their vision.”
Daniel’s final thoughts on seeking out the right Housing Management System
“A traditional Housing Management System is always going to deliver a traditional service,” comments Daniel. “What we’ve encountered is housing management suppliers layering improvements onto their systems and developing great looking interfaces, but quite often fundamental underlying issues are not resolved, which impact the flexibility and efficiency output of a system. To create real change, it’s about thinking outside the box and exploring different providers, don’t accept the traditional.”