I have been aspiring for years to bring Orkney Housing Association into the 21st century and undertake everyday tasks more digitally. It got me thinking, how much post do I receive through my own letterbox each week? Answer – hardly any! I receive text reminders for dentist appointments, haircuts etc, I order my repeat prescriptions online, I book my fitness classes online. So why do we insist on sending out so much paper?! My efforts always fell short of what was needed due to various reasons for example, budget provision, lack of time and support from people to really drive it forward, lack of knowledge on our housing management system and it’s capabilities to do what we want. It always fell off.

I signed up for the Digital Motivator’s Bootcamp run by the SCVO in September 2019 and was excited for what the 2-day event would bring. A lot of the focus was getting tenants to be more digital, which is great but made me realise that we can’t do that unless we as an organisation do the same. The ideas from the SCVO team and the other attendees from the North Cohort was invaluable and I came away with new fresh ideas and excited about the prospects and how to drive things forward.

There has been a lot happening internally across the Association, but I have not lost sight of driving forward the digital work. We have signed up for a subscription to Jotforms, an online form building programme to enable both staff and customers to make applications and complete forms for most parts of the organisation online. These can then link to our website and Facebook page. This is currently used by another organisation who attended the Bootcamp and it was of interest to everyone!

We are looking at holding ‘surgeries’ across the islands and incorporating digital services into this. The timing of our Customer Satisfaction Survey also fits in well to carry out a tenant profiling exercise to gather information about digital services and customer’s preferred method of contact.

We also had a timely visit from a consultant to carry out a ‘Health Check’ on our housing management system and a large part of this visit was how to digitise the system more, cut down on staff time, paper being sent out and communicate with people through email. So now we know how, we just need to get the information we require from our tenants to get this all set up.

Housing Officers are now equipped with tablets that they take out on home visits and can assist people with Universal Credit claims. We are also in the planning stages of getting a desktop PC in our reception area that will be available for customers to use, and staff will be on hand to assist where required.

We are in the early stages of developing all of this, but with the support of colleagues, the SCVO and the other attendees from the Bootcamp, I am confident that we will continue to progress our digital services and work with tenants and customers in identifying areas where further support is required and build on this.