Together with Solita, Public Housing Sweden (Allmännyttan) has developed a comprehensive business architecture and a number of specific digital tools to help its member companies on their digitalisation journey. This work has paid off – Public Housing Sweden is already actively developing a range of specific aids and tools, like the structure produced by Solita.
The work has been done as part of Public Housing Sweden’s Digitalisation Initiative (DI). DI brings together 100 housing companies that have opted to collaborate on digitalisation issues and relevant business development through a separately financed activity. The aim is to increase the pace of change in their own companies and to work together for long-term sustainable industry change.
“Strong and forward-looking trade associations have an important role to play in the development of the whole industry”, says Terese Skärvagen, DI’s Project Manager. “This initiative is about mobilising business development in housing companies, so strengthening innovation and digital renewal is crucial. Together with Solita, we are developing specific tools and methods to facilitate digitalisation for the entire ecosystem.”
According to Terese Skärvagen, there is great interest and commitment on the part of housing companies when it comes to digital transformation, but there are several difficult prerequisites. Public Housing Sweden helps companies increase their skills and maturity in the field and to acquire effective tools.
“It may sound simple but working strategically with digitalisation is incredibly challenging for individual companies, regardless of industry. Having internal consensus, good reasoning, and bringing in external expertise and facilitator support is important for everyone; it is difficult to make a strategic plan by yourself”, says Maria Hansson, Senior Consultant at Solita and one of those responsible for the work on the business architecture.
Common solutions for the benefit of all
Solita has designed an adaptive business architecture, i.e. a schematic drawing of how Public Housing Sweden’s operations are structured. It developed the business architecture based on a process mapping done earlier.
“A business architecture serves as a map for digitalisation and is a must for understanding context. It is a necessary foundation for discussion and the ability to find common ground despite complex contexts”, says Terese Skärvagen. “One example is case management, a central company process that involves several business areas, and one where seeing the impact of a change is difficult. How is it connected to the rest of the digital infrastructure? Where on the map is this change? How do changes in process steps affect the rest of the business? What should be in place before the company takes on case management – or are there synergies to be gained from doing things in a particular order? We can achieve such traceability through business architecture.”
A business architecture tends to provide companies, in this instance housing companies within Public Housing Sweden, with a common way of describing their activities. This makes it much easier to discuss things together, learn from each other, draw up joint requirements descriptions, and collaborate on requirements and on purchasing and rolling out new digital solutions.
“It’s about finding common starting points for collaboration, not just common needs”, says Terese Skärvagen. “It is not as simple as everyone being able or having to do the same. Instead, the benefit lies in Public Housing Sweden’s ability to share experiences and learn so that we can continually build on each other’s solutions, rather than in everyone necessarily having the same service in the same way. Property technology is incredibly complex. People are complex too, so managing a stock of rental homes is extremely complicated. There are many parameters to take into account at the same time, so a seemingly simple thing, like being able to describe the business accurately, is invaluable.”
Solita has also developed a strategic decision-making aid for housing companies, something to lean on when they digitalise their operations. To this end, Solita, along with some of the housing companies, has developed a methodological aid enabling companies to analyse needs, discuss their existing and non-existing digital capabilities, and eventually agree on a common view of what a strategic roadmap should look like, i.e. what should be done to navigate as strategically as possible on the digitalisation journey.
“The world doesn’t need another consultancy report”, says Terese Skärvagen, “we need specific tools to work with digitalisation. Along with Solita, we have developed exactly that, and we are already working actively with the structure that Solita has developed. The next step is to break down the structure into even more tools that the companies have tangible use of in their transformation work. For example, if they need to formulate an integration strategy, we provide them with a clear and simple tool to carry out such work. We also provide them with several positive examples from other public housing companies that have a well-functioning integration strategy in place. This results in highly practical tools to help housing companies in their digitalisation process.”
Solita has been working with Public Housing Sweden for two years and both parties have been satisfied with the partnership.
“Working with Solita has worked very well”, says Terese Skärvagen, “it has been easy to follow the progress, and we have received fine and clear deliverables of high quality. It has been easy and flexible to work with them and the consultants we have had have really done their job.”
“For me, someone passionate about sustainable digitalisation, it is extremely exciting to work with Public Housing Sweden”, says Maria Hansson. “What Public Housing Sweden does benefits so many more people, the entire property sector, and the wider ecosystem. All property companies have similar needs when it comes to e.g. property management, maintenance, security and home care. It will be both more sustainable and cost-effective if companies work together, help each other, and jointly develop aids and ready-to-use references for good digitalisation. Being able to contribute to that development feels rewarding.”