Habinteg Housing Association has provided integrated housing for disabled people for 50 years. Managing over 3,300 homes in 86 local authorities across England and Wales, Habinteg was experiencing limitations with their previous Microsoft Dynamics system, and set out to identify an alternative which would allow their teams to work more efficiently.
A streamlined solution to meet future needs
Habinteg’s current system lacked key features the company needed to reduce the administrative load on their finance team, in particular a purchase-to-pay module to make their purchasing and invoicing processes more efficient. The Habinteg team also struggled to access training and documentation for their dated systems, and found them cumbersome and unintuitive to use.
After comparing multiple options, including upgrading their existing system as well as a range of free and paid-for options, Habinteg selected Orchard as their new partner, selecting their financial systems based on OpenAccounts, eBIS and V1.
Andrew Crompton, Director of Finance and Resource at Habinteg, explained what made Orchard’s offering stand out:
“Orchard appealed to us as a single solution to our finance workflow. We’d had immense problems previously because we had two systems feeding into one another, and the interface didn’t work well, leading to registration errors and a huge amount of work for our finance team to tidy up. We also had real trouble getting training and documentation for the old system, and upgrading to a newer version would have cost us more than a whole new system. We chose Orchard because of the look and feel and functionality, but also because of the relationship we’d built up. We had a few key priorities, mainly functionality, training and documentation as well as the IT support to handle integration, and we were persuaded on all of these.”
Remote integration during COVID-19 lockdown
The integration process for the Habinteg system coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, requiring both Orchard’s and Habinteg’s teams to complete the setup and integration process whilst working remotely, making for a challenging implementation process.
To enable Habinteg’s finance team to get up and running as quickly as possible, Orchard teams provided training and support via GoToMeeting webinars, as well as by providing customised video guides explaining the specific elements of the eBIS system that were most relevant to their circumstances. Habinteg also benefited from the intuitive interface compared to their previous system.
“One of the main reasons for us to move was to shift to a system that was a lot more intuitive, and that you could use without direct training. I got my first invoices through eBIS yesterday and deliberately didn’t use the guide. It was all pretty obvious what I was supposed to do, and where everything was, and support has been good.”
Lasting benefits for flexible working
Like many housing organisations, Habinteg were forced to make significant changes to their working processes in very short timescales to allow teams to operate remotely during the lockdown.
While integration of the new Orchard system is still ongoing, Andrew Crompton explained that once complete, Orchard’s eBIS system would deliver lasting benefits and enable Habinteg to make flexible working more widespread even after the COVID-19 restrictions were eased:
“We had a week to get our back office staff working from home and get everybody set up with the IT they needed for their roles. The organisation has taken to it really well. For distance working and remote working, eBIS is a perfect tool to have in place. We’d had agile on the agenda for quite a while and wanted to make it possible for staff to work remotely, and the opportunities the current situation has presented will make it likely that we’ll work far more flexibly in future. We need the right workflows to support this, and eBIS is one of these.”