Digital · housing · Social Media

8 months in – is our Digital First Project a success (so far)?

digital_vortexI’ve blogged a number of times about the Digital First journey we have been on as an organisation. Posts have included ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’, ‘The Digital (and Social) Journey’, ‘Digital First Wave’ and ‘A One-page Strategy…..Impossible! Or is it?’.

In this post I’m attempting to draw some of these together by writing about where we have got to with our Digital First Project so far, some of the projects successes to date and some of the learning.

First things first, I think it’s fair to say that I am really pleased with how the Digital First Project has come along in its first 8 months. I can’t quite believe its only been 8 months that the project has been running for!

We have four tenants as part of our 12 strong Project Team and they have been key to giving the tenant point of view along the way. I can honestly say that the Project journey so far would not have been the same without the four tenants being involved. The Project Team also includes 8 staff (including me) made up of a representative from each of the main department in the association. These representatives were all staff that showed an interest in being part of the project team, meaning they had some vested interest in being involved and its overall success. We have now held several Project Team meetings and managed to build up quite a head of steam behind the project.

But we haven’t just been talking about things. We’ve been producing things, like the Digital First Strategy (below).

The Digital First Strategy
The Digital First Strategy
The Digital First Project key achievements to-date include:
  • Drafting a one-page Digital First Strategy (which has recently been agreed by our Senior Management Team);
  • Starting discussions on what new services we could offer digitally;
  • Reviewing our current tenant’s portal offer;
  • Making some key changes to further improve the tenant’s portal functionality.

We have also had lots of positive plaudits along the way about the way the project has developed.

It’s also fair to say we have learnt a few key things as well.

One thing we quickly learnt as a Project Team is that our website was key to the success of the Digital First Project and although this has held up some aspects of the project, I’m pleased to say that a new website is now a ‘work in progress’.

Our Marketing and Communications Manager is also currently looking at our approach to Social Media, which although not a key part of the Digital First Project, does have some real implications for its success.

So what next for the Digital First project?

One key area is the continued focus on offering services digitally and ensuring that as an organisation we continue to look at improving our digital offer to our tenants. At the same time we also need to ensure that our digital offer to staff is not left behind as well! Ensuring that key staff are able to use tablets where suitable will only help with this further. We’re also planning some further work to improve our approach to digital inclusion – some 30% of our tenants have told us that they do not have access to the internet currently, so if we are looking to offer more services digitally, we need to make sure our tenants are able to access the internet.

If I had to sum the first 8 months of the Digital First Project is one line, it would be:

‘ A challenging but rewarding project that is showing some real progress and results for the organisation and its tenants’

I can only hope that the next 8 months of the project are as successful!


8 thoughts on “8 months in – is our Digital First Project a success (so far)?

  1. Hi Brett,

    Congrats on a successful 8 months work and for sharing your progress. I wondered what the reason was for deciding to create a Tenant Portal App in addition to relaunching the current Tenant Portal (which I presume is not mobile optimised?) rather than just creating a Tenant Portal which serves both desktop and mobile in the one platform?

    1. Hello Rob.
      It was more a question of timing really. Our current website is not mobile optimised, although as stated in the blog, our new website will rectify this later this year. As it happens, the Tenant Portal is now mobile optimised through a different channel (we use Capita/IBS, so they had a module available which allowed this), so we no longer need to develop a separate App.
      Relaunching the current Tenant Portal is in recognition that we have been poor at communicating it to our customers (we’ve had one for quite a few years) and that we will shortly have some improved functionality on the portal. All in all, we are looking to increase its use with our customers via a relaunch.

  2. Hi Brett,

    Sounds like you’ve had a really positive start for this digital project, which is great news – I think I might steal the 1 page strategy tactic! I was particularly interested to see the focus on the Tenant Portal in your strategy – how are you thinking of expanding your services? Beyond online rent accounts and repairs tracking what were your tenants asking for?

    1. Hi Rebecca.
      We sat down as a Project Team, looked at what we currently provided and thought about what we could potentially provide. We then prioritised these into two groups; stage 1 – easy to do, stage 2 – harder/more costly to do.
      One example is that we are looking to fill the gaps in our tenant profiling information by asking tenants who utilise the tenants portal to provide/update specific missing information. There are quite a lot of these ‘smaller’ changes planned that will provide a greater benefit to the organisation (as well as tenants).

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