In April of this year, the housing association industry shifted dramatically as three associations announced plans to merge, becoming one of the largest homebuilders in the UK. With plans to build roughly 100,000 homes across London and the South East – this news was met with delight from low-income families and regions struggling with the demand placed upon their current property offerings. The merged L&Q, East Thames and The Hyde Group plan to invest £25bn over the next ten years – helping huge numbers take their first step on the housing ladder.
Although there are arguably economies of scale to be realised from such mergers, the implications of integrating these businesses cannot be underestimated. From an IT perspective, the ideal would be to consolidate all users onto one set of systems, removing all duplicate services and throwing some innovation in to go with it. However, these processes are extremely costly, time consuming and in reality for most users, there are no significant improvements made for all the effort.
Of course, the end game here has to be consolidation, the medicine needs to be taken before the illness gets worse so to speak. But a coexistence strategy around IT in the short term, for example, may have merit. With the correct access, governance and security in place tenants, employees and contractors across the merged organisations can interact with the online services they require with the minimum of disruption. This respite allows the organisation to consolidate services with a more considered strategy over a more practical time frame. This is a common approach with many examples of this being effective, especially for those organisations who grow through acquisition and mergers such as one.
This type of technology and investment is not only adopted to support a phase of coexistence. As the final organisation is much larger, coupled with the trend to decentralise IT through SaaS and cloud-based services the need to manage the complexity of authentication, authorisation and good governance only increases.