Client Spotlight

O&H chooses MRI Horizon and Engage to support business expansion

o&h land

Family run business, O&H invests in creating sustainable, community-led developments on brownfield land sites across the UK and in investment properties across London. Since its inception over 40 years ago the business has grown significantly, and now forms part of a diverse portfolio.

As it has grown, O&H has expanded into retail property, investment property and is due to open and trade from a new hotel in Central London soon.

The challenge

O&H has relied on a combination of software solutions over the years, including using MRI’s Qube software alongside a separate property management solution, manual spreadsheet-based systems, and the company’s accounting platform. As O&H’s three business units grew, there was a need to ensure their software stack was rationalised, ready to support ongoing expansion.

“We were scaling beyond the capabilities of our system”, explained Chris Williams, Head of Finance at O&H. “It had suited us fine for 15 years, however going through lockdown brought in to focus the need for us to move to a web-based solution and automate a lot of what we do.”

Our old system was set up for the way we were. We don’t automate simple stuff like finance leases – it all runs off spreadsheets and manual processes, so we felt the need to start again.

The solution

After an initial market review and shortlisting exercise, O&H engaged a third-party consultant to manage the tender process for its new software platform.

The capabilities of the software’s general ledger were very important. With three distinct business units, it was essential that the new solution was able to allow for variations in things like accounting year, and for financial reporting on a company-by-company basis. It also needed to allow for integration and consolidation of data from all areas of the business, including from new asset classes, such as retail, that O&H has moved into.

The company was also keen to explore opportunities to streamline and automate invoicing and tenant management processes, to ensure the team’s resources were being used as effectively as possible as the business scaled its operations.

After a competitive tender process, O&H Land decided to implement a 57-user MRI Horizon package, as well as MRI’s Engage tenant portal.

Flexible finance reporting

The major factor driving O&H’s selection of MRI Horizon was the power and flexibility of the accounting ledger.

“We were very impressed with MRI Horizon”, explained Chris. “We’re very finance-led, so the general ledger is the key difference for us. With other systems we had to have the same accounting year across all companies, and accounts were set up to report on a property-by-property basis. With MRI Horizon, we can account on a company-by-company basis and adjust everything to suit our needs.”

Streamlined tenant engagement

Alongside MRI Horizon, O&H decided to implement the Engage tenant portal to automate the process of managing service charge payments across the portfolio.

“We have a large number of residential tenants who pay a service charge to us, both in our London portfolio and our development portfolio”, said Chris. “We want to make it easier for tenants to get the information they need and reduce the time agents spend handling requests.”

By encouraging tenants to move to the Engage portal, O&H Land expects to make significant time savings in managing service charge payments, as well as offering a more convenient service to their residential tenants.

With thousands of tenants, the payoff of a system like MRI Engage is easy – if even just 40% of our tenants switch to the portal, we’ll see a significant benefit.

Implementation and support

With the implementation of their new MRI Horizon platform underway, the team at O&H is looking forward to overhauling processes to prepare for the next stage of business growth.

“The MRI team has been very professional throughout, and open about the efforts needed from our side to work together and make sure we end up with the best system.”

Despite the economic situation, we’ve recently hired three new members of staff and we have exciting plans for the future. Working with MRI has been positive and collaborative – we’re very impressed.

Malcolm Payton, business account manager at MRI said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with O&H Land. The team has been incredibly thorough during the sales cycle, and moving into the implementation phase they embraced training and consultancy sessions to support setting up the new system. We’re looking forward to a long and positive future working with a great team at O&H and partnering with the business as it continues to grow.”

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