Exeter City Council - Digital Housing Case Study transcript

Hi I’m Kevin Neal. I’m the interim housing solutions lead at Exeter City Council.

I think the first thing I’d say I’ve learned from this and I would tell it to anybody else that they really need to take on board at the beginning, is you really need to get your plan together at the beginning, including mapping out the project lifetime and then allocate the time resources to that, and if you do it the other way around it gets more difficult as you go on.

We've had a number of challenges and I can honestly say I think a lot of them stemmed from our own making right at the beginning because what we didn't do is, we didn't plan the time properly and therefore we didn't allocate the hours to that that we needed and you can have all of the ambition and ideas but if you haven't got the hours to go with it, it isn't going to work. So, we learned that probably halfway through the through the project and then started allocating the hours to it that certainly, made a big difference to us.

So, the major obstacle was the lack of time. And similarly, if you want to get a contribution out of other partners either internal or external, you really need to make sure they've got the time to devote to it as well because that's another potential fall over.

Definitely getting the online triage up and running. It's only just there, it's been there a few days now. So, we're still working on it. We're still refining it, we're still doing customer research to make sure that it's going to end up really achieving what we want it to do, but it's fantastic because,  they can basically make a homeless approach to us from home or wherever they are. And we've set in a one working day service standard that we'll contact them within. So, other than people are literally homeless tonight, people can approach us from anywhere and we'll respond, and we'll be there, and we'll start sitting down with them and working out what's the best plan for them. And to be able to do that without having to come and sit in the council office for three or four hours as is this experience of people in some places, it’s absolutely brilliant and I’m really pleased with it.

Yes, I’ve given myself this piece of advice several times so far. From the beginning I and the other person who's shouldered most of the burden with me tried to do this between us and it cut hours out of what we were doing, and it really didn't work. Once we realized that we were running out of time we found somebody with the skills and aims to support us to get involved, we back filled her post and she's doing this full-time, that made all the difference. We've probably done time but the wrong way around. I’d rather have done it at the beginning not the end but it's made a phenomenal difference, and I would say to anybody if you're starting out on a project like this find someone who is actually going shoulder the bulk of the work, who's got the skills to do it, and aptitude to do it, and make sure that they have the time to do it. And if you do that you can't go wrong.