Coastal Housing Group – Virtual CTO
Coastal currently manages over 6,000 homes across South West Wales. In addition to renting homes, Coastal develops properties for sale through a dedicated home sales company, Pennant Homes.
Coastal has a great reputation for people focussed service delivery and much of this down to the commitment of the passionate people who work there. It was essential that the staff team was properly supported in delivering the quality of service that Coastal is known for and that its customers have come to expect. Many of the business systems were aging and needed replacement and because of this the applications did not support process automation, tying up staff time in manual processing and preventing the service offer being taken to the next level.
Coastal needed independent expertise to:
- Advise on the best technology strategy to best support strategic ambition
- Identify priorities for investment in hardware, software and people
- Restructure the IT team to align it with the future needs of the business
- Negotiate with suppliers to maximise value from a range of investments
- Future proof technological change
- Review organisational IT security
- Improve remote working
- Support culture change by building engagement, inclusion and contribution to the overall transition
A 3C CTO was assigned to Coastal working 3 days per week with the Executive Team and the CHG Board to identify the challenges the business was facing and develop the vision for IT into a clear roadmap of projects to meet the strategic ambition. It soon became clear that significant change to the IT service would be required.
A 3 year transformation programme was created identifying key systems for review and replacement. The CTO introduced a project management structure within the organisation that provided the foundation for operational activities associated with technology.
The preliminary need was to restructure and re-brand the Coastal IT team and assist in developing, recruiting and selecting appropriate personnel. The new ‘Tech Team’ comprised of a new Business Services division and enhanced Service Desk.
A new integrated Housing, Finance and Asset Management system was procured along with a separate HR and Payroll application. Some work was also undertaken in Property Services to implement the validation of Electrical and Gas Certificates. At the same time the CTO helped the organisation to touch base with some key vendors to examine the infrastructure and address some key weaknesses. This lead to a procurement and implementation of new cloud-based infrastructure that provided far greater capacity and security for less cost. Office 365 was also introduced. A new telephony system was also procured. Much of this took place during the Covid 19 disruption and through the guidance of 3C’s CTO, the transformation programme seamlessly continued, enhancing remote working so that Coastal could better support customer during this challenging period.
By the end of 2022 it is envisaged that CHG will have replaced all major systems. The cost of investment will be significantly offset by savings and productivity gains achieved through the knowledge and experience of 3C’s CTO. Indeed, the CTO fees have been completely offset through savings made. Once the new IT structure was in place and sufficiently self-sufficient, the CTO arrangement came to a close, although they remained available for ongoing support and acting as a critical friend.
- Infrastructure capacity doubled & future proofing the organisation for the foreseeable future.
- Improved online remote working environment
- £820.000 worth of savings over 5 years including Disaster Recovery Structure
"We recognised that we needed help to focus on key areas of technological development that will allow us to continue being one of the leading social housing providers in Wales. Access to 3C’s Virtual CTO service allowed us access to someone with Board level strategic technology experience who has done this before and who was able to plan sequentially the major events we needed to undertake and then lead our internal teams to achieve. The CTO was instrumental in securing the confidence of the board and was able to set out a 3 year vision which provided assurance that the investment was well thought through and necessary and his assistance with providing clarity on the options was vital. The work undertaken by 3C with us over the last 12 months has been significant and it’s fair to say we relied heavily on them. I would have no hesitation in recommending 3C’s Virtual CTO services." - Debbie Green, CEO of Coastal