Douglas Silverstone
Douglas Silverstone Director of Technology, Southern Housing

Both legacy organisations took different approaches to technology and through the pandemic adapted different ways of hybrid working, further differentiating their technology architectures. The organisation developed an integration roadmap, with a series of significant projects merging and assimilating our technology and business processes.  

As a business that needs to adapt to deliver improvements for customers and respond to changes in regulation, building a new technology system in the background was not an option. We quickly had to merge our ways of working and come together to support an organisation in transition, supporting two sets of expectations and service level agreements.

We established a tech operating model that puts everything from the viewpoint of our customers, then in the engine room we built a continuous improvement cycle that designed, built, and operated our technology platform whilst repeatedly improving outcomes. At the same time we harmonised all of our technology contracts to ensure value for money and to maximise the technology value for our residents.

The team

Our technology colleagues operated as a single team way before the organisational merger processes allowed, to ensure we were delivering what was needed for our residents.

Our technology department is split into six areas:

  • Security – We’ve secured our technology. Our specialist security team constantly look for any threats and have embedded security as a core capability.
  • Customer – We merged our service desks and technology processes, delivering over 1,600 new devices so that colleagues had access to cost effective equipment.
  • Development – We delivered application improvements on two systems and ensured we combined the best of each organisation to harmonise processes and enable existing applications to be merged or decommissioned.
  • Architecture – We combined our system architecture to a single Cloud platform and worked to identify the use cases of 270 applications, understanding commonality across both organisations so that we could identify targets for streamlining.
  • Operations – Both in infrastructure and application disciplines the teams came together to understand each other’s environments, and problem solved to ensure they could be combined with the minimum amount of friction.
  • Commercial – We reviewed existing contracts that needed to be brought in line with the new organisation’s expectations. We changed our approach and sought partners that could deliver in partnership longer term and deliver outcomes rather than purely contractual obligations.  

Cyber security in a high speed merger

During the due diligence process we also agreed that cyber security was a high-risk priority and one that we could take no compromises on. Cyber security risks are never static, and so the ability to maintain cyber assurance during periods of high change was a critical business capability.

We understood that we could not take any unwarranted risks with our customers data and that providing assurance to our stakeholders was of critical importance whilst shaping our new organisation.

Our approach was to first understand security from the customer perspective and then build this into a cyber security framework. We then improved existing processes by implementing advanced threat detection and remediation techniques powered by our Secure Access Service Edge network and Cloud delivery capability.

In the last year our security team have:

  • Scanned 24m emails (increase of 3.3m on the previous year)
  • Prevented 54k security incidents, through automated prevention techniques
  • Improved our Phish Prone score by 2% through intrinsic layered training approaches
  • Scanned over 1k terabytes of data
  • Blocked over 2.5m of suspicious emails
  • Prevented 300k potentially harmful incidents
  • Achieved zero business impact on operational activities.

As a result of the impressive work completed by our technology team, we are finalists in two categories at the Housing Technology Awards 2024, ‘Cyber-security’ and ‘IT Team of the Year'.

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