Housing NZ aims for $70m in savings

Transformation programme project now expected to be delivered at the end of July

Housing New Zealand expects to garner net benefits of $70 million over the next three years from its transformation programme, says project leader Philippa Jones.

Systems integration testing of the $72 million IT component will be completed by the end of February, she says.

The Oracle part of the project was originally to be delivered by March 31, but a decision has now been made to stagger the delivery. July 31 is now the final cutover date.

Jones says re-engineering the businesses will lead to efficiencies.

British software company Northgate is providing specialist housing software that will hold all the customer information and interactions.

“This allows us to automate some of the workflow,” Jones says.

Essentially, the Northgate software will provide customer relationship management and workflow. It replaces the 20-year-old Rental bespoke software. “Rental is in five pieces that don’t talk to each other,” she says.

“Some of the Northgate software will come on line in April.”

Northgate has had four people based at Housing since late in 2010.

The state-owned corporation has opened a new contact centre in Manukau to complement its main call centre in Porirua, centralising calls on a national basis rather than the existing regional system.

That means major changes for staff, who will be directed into specialist roles. Housing is using GoTo training, a Citrix project, as a virtual classroom tool to train the staff in their new roles.

Oracle is providing financials and enterprise asset management, which Jones says will allow the corporation to better manage capital improvement, maintenance and scheduling.

“It’s an effective planning tool that interfaces to our maintenance contractors.”

Previously, there was no software to manage the $15 billion in housing stock.

Oracle is providing base staff of 14, as well as contractors.

“We also have staff coming and going for shorter periods, depending on the phase of the project.”

A pilot to equip tenancy managers with tablets will be rolled out from May till July. No decision has been made yet on brand. “We’re talking to other [government] agencies,” Jones says.

Despite the delivery date being extended till the end of July, nothing has changed with the vendor contract, she says. “There is a time and materials component with Oracle.”

Part of the delay is down to legislative changes, which she says have led to additional configuration and customisation.

“We always had an ‘out of the box’ goal.

“We’re getting good results with testing, and I’m feeling good about the project.”

Purchasing of hardware is limited to additional server and storage capacity, together with mobile phones and devices for tenancy managers.

In November Computerworld reported that some staff and vendors close to Housing New Zealand’s $72 million transformation project claimed it is in trouble, but the state owned enterprise refuted their allegations.

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