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Peabody IT director building home improvements

Mark Chillingworth | July 30, 2013
One thing is clear about Martin Carpenter: his passion for the sector he operates within.

"A large proportion of our staff are based in the field and they are the eyes and ears of Peabody. We can collect more information at the point of connection so that neighbourhood managers will have access to pictures of tenants to check that the occupants really are the tenants.

"Mobile is a tool that helps us be more efficient as we grow, so we can keep the same number of staff but look after more properties. The engagement is going to be a lot easier," he says.

Carpenter is also pushing the use of the internet so that his customer base have round-the-clock access to information, whereas at present the contact centre can only deal with requests and reports between 8am and 8pm.

"It is important that we have a tight integration between our systems," he says of plans to integrate repairs, contracts and HR systems.

Carpenter is putting in a new Core International cloud-based HR system and a finance system from Infor. The HR system was chosen through a tender process and Carpenter was impressed with its Apple-like simplicity.

He says the same of the system from Infor, whose CEO Charles Philips is well known for talking about "beautiful software". Carpenter is influenced by this thinking and wants to bring a design ethos to the IT at Peabody. Like many organisations, the technology that Peabody users experience at home is better than that in the organisation, but Carpenter believes his integration and adoption plans "will go a significant way to addressing this".

"We have gone from six housing systems to one, we will drop from three HR systems to one and again in finance we will drop from three to one system."

For the organisation the new Aareon QL housing management application will enable data analysis and help give a 360-degree view of the customer.

"We can then understand and tailor our services. We can be a lot better with our data and be more analytical. I'm looking to use predictive analysis to spot crime areas — that will give us an edge as an organisation — but I won't say Big Data," Carpenter says with a smile.

Looking ahead, Peabody will move into new headquarters over the next three years and Carpenter is assessing how he can use the move to modernise the infrastructure of the organisation.

Peabody has a staff of 650, 30 of whom work for Carpenter. He divides his team into three, each third focusing on infrastructure, projects and applications. The organisation has an IT opex of £4 million and a capex of £2 million.

Carpenter speaks proudly of his team. "They do a good job. The first thing I did when I came here was to look in the server room and you know you have a good team when everything looks neat and tidy," he says.


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