Affinity Sutton is a housing provider based in the UK, which specialises in providing affordable and community focused housing. It is one of the UK’s largest housing providers, offering 56,000 houses to residents in 120 local authorities. The organisation has worked with around 161,000 residents throughout the UK. Affinity Sutton is one of seven housing associations in the country, which help to provide rent, repair and housing management services. Affinity Sutton also has a housing development programme, last year building 1,049 houses, which are split between affordable rent or shared housing agreements.
The organisation’s Affinity Sutton Group Board leads the strategy and policy decisions. However, the board is not involved with the management of the group, which is delegated to the group CEO and their team. Affinity Sutton’s main office is based in London, although the housing the organisation provides is spread across the UK from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to Plymouth.
The company provides housing for the 1.8 million people who are waiting for council housing. They function as a non-profit organisation, ploughing profits back into its housing services. The company also has a registered charity, The Affinity Sutton Community Foundation, which offers grants between £300 and £5,000. The company also aims to provide housing for particularly vulnerable groups of people, including sufferers of domestic violence, young parents and those with mental or physical disabilities.
Affinity Sutton has over 1500 staff, who are based all over the UK. The company’s surplus income for the previous year was £55 million and revenue totalled £270 million.
The current IT director for Affinity Sutton, Kevin Corbett has previously held the position of CIO for The Royal Borough of Greenwich and IT manager for PwC. Recently the three sections of the organisation have been aligned onto a singular platform.
IT leader: Kevin Corbett, Director of IT.
In role since: June 2012.
Reporting line: Group FD.
Board level seat: No.
How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Monthly.
IT budget: £5 million.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 1,500 users.
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 100%.
IT staff currently employed: 45.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: 80/20.
IT management team and reporting structure: Three direct reports – Head of IT, Head of Business Systems, Head of Business Integration.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Civica housing system and CRM.
Primary technology suppliers: Civica, Microsoft, Citrix.
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: None.
Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: 25%.
Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: Following the merger of three Housing Associations into a single entity, a project was completed to align all three parts of the organisation on to a single Housing and CRM system. This has reduced significantly the level of duplication of data, streamlined processes and contributed significantly to the organisation achieving 81% customer satisfaction. Given the nature of the sector, this is an exceptionally high percentage.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Affinity Sutton has been through a major strategic benchmarking exercise where it has compared its ways of working and subsequent successes against all sectors, rather than just other Housing Associations. Out of this a corporate transformation action plan is being developed of which technology will play a keep role in enabling the change and improvements highlighted.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: To ‘change the game’. Suppliers of ICT to the Housing Sector appear to be behind the curve in terms of innovation and dynamic progressive businesses such as Affinity Sutton are in danger of being held back in terms of achieving their aspirations. With this in mind, the strategic aim for the next year is to see what can be achieved by using systems from outside the sector and deliver the benefits to our business, with the aim to provide wider integration, better processes, better services to our customers with greater choice and higher value for money.
Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: Affinity Sutton already has the technical capability for BYOD, and work is underway to consider how to address any culture barriers is brings. Social network sites are proving to be an invaluable channel for our residents to interact with us, and indeed comment on our services. Tools for working remotely from home are highly effective and well used, though there is improvement needed for those staff working more ‘in the field’ when a stable mobile connection in not available.
Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: The above plan is firmly in place, based around our existing technology offering (Citrix). Engagement with executives is achieved through the running of business-engaged pilots, regular workshop sessions and presentations to the executive board and departmental leads. We believe we have the right controls and security in place through technology, which remain firmly agnostic in terms of employee choice. The only restriction we intend to retain is that field staff visiting residents homes will continue to use corporately provided and support devices. As well as allowing us to support and maintain these business critical devices better, it is also an important part of the Affinity Sutton brand.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: ERP and mobile solutions.
Transformational inspiration sources: Other B2C organisations, outside of the Housings sectors.