From Problem Solver to Strategic Partner - Ron’s Story
Caledonia Housing Association is one of the largest providers of affordable rented homes in Scotland. They own and manage around 4,000 homes across Tayside, Fife and the Highlands, with a further 1,500 homes managed under partnership in West Dunbartonshire. With such a large property portfolio, it’s not surprising they need a large team to make sure they can deliver the service their tenants expect.
Ron Hunter is the Finance Director of Caledonia Housing Association and as part of his role, is responsible for the Association’s information technology. With over 200 users across the group, IT plays a significant role in the team's ability to deliver services for their tenants and partners.
“It’s a fundamental part of our organisation. And for a long time, it was a source of frustration for the team. Our systems had been established when we were quite small and it was clear that we needed to modernise our IT systems across the whole organisation.”
The Association worked with brightsolid in Dundee, to design a solution that would modernise their IT infrastructure while ensuring their data was suitably protected. After a period of consultancy, they selected a cloud based solution and agreed to move their server technology into the brightsolid datacentre.
Ron and the internal IT team at the Association, worked closely with brightsolid to set up the new server infrastructure in the datacentre.
The Case of the Choked Network
Although the new server network was established, the Association wasn’t yet able to enjoy the full benefits, as an outdated version of the main Line of Business application was tying up resources within the new infrastructure.
It was at this point brightsolid introduced Shackleton Technologies. Having worked together successfully in the past there was a shared understanding of each other’s organisations and where we both come to the fore. We were able to fill the gap between Caledonia Housing’s internal IT Team & brightsolid's own team to audit and the issues which were present.
After a detailed root cause analysis, we identified the main problems.
Essentially, the outdated Line of Business application running on their systems was holding on to the computer's processing power long after it was required. To get around this, we had to manually stop tasks running. And although this is a simple enough process, it’s entirely manual and is inefficient and frustrating for the users as well as being time consuming for our own staff.
After investigating the issues and working extensively with the provider, we took the decision to automate this process, which freed up much needed system and technical resources quickly and efficiently.
“I was impressed with the service from Shackleton on the initial brightsolid project. And, it became apparent that they could do so much more for us. We’d always had a very small IT team and I quickly realised that their skills were being over stretched which was frustrating from them and the system users. What we needed was a pool of people with a range of skills that we could rely on. It was more efficient for us as an organisation to outsource our IT support and IT strategy to Shackleton Technologies.”
Total IT Support
Although Caledonia Housing Association has a small internal IT team, they were, unsurprisingly, unable to keep up with the demand from over 200 users. Delays in getting issues fixed caused frustration, both for the users and the team.
Shackleton worked with Ron and the internal IT team to start the process of migrating their IT support to our Service Desk. The support contract we agreed with the Association means that they now have access to a professional technical helpdesk system. As a result, they have complete visibility of all open service tickets and can see at a glance how these are progressing.
“We’ve had great feedback from our team, praising the work of Shackleton. Problems that may have taken hours or days to resolve, are now typically dealt with in 5 to 10 minutes. The fact that our users can have a real, human conversation, speeds up the process and gives them confidence that their issues will be dealt with professionally.”
From Support to Strategy
Getting the Association’s new support operations in place gave Ron the time to tackle some of the more ambitious and strategic IT projects he was faced with. Ron had the confidence in our ability and again asked us to play an important part in the process.
“The Shackleton team has been fundamental in all our big upgrade projects. They’ve provided the strategic input and have managed the final projects through to completion. It’s enabled us to move forward with some of our most strategic investments. They’ve given us a ‘bigger picture’ mentality when it comes to IT. Having Shackleton in the wings hasn’t just given us operational stability, it’s given us renewed confidence in everything we do.”
Getting the operational IT issues resolved and having strategic support in place hasn’t just made a difference to Caledonia Housing Association as an organisation – it’s also had a positive impact on Ron personally.
“Working with the Shackleton team has changed my job immeasurably. I’m not an IT specialist and I’ve never pretended to be. Having Chris Thornton (Shackleton’s Senior Technical Manager) in my corner means I’ve got an expert who gives me advice without trying to sell me anything. He’s given me solid business IT advice and helps me make judgements on other key investments for the organisation. As a result, the stress I used to feel about IT is a thing of the past.”
As Caledonian Housing Association continues to expand and provide more much needed affordable rented housing across Scotland, Shackleton will continue to be on hand to help them make the most of the technology available to them. You can find out more about the valuable work the Association does by visiting the Caledonia Housing Association website.