Putting customers first in housing association mergers

It is important to put your customers first in housing association mergers. I came across a recent article in Place North West which talked about the merger of two Manchester-based housing associations.

So why may housing association mergers be a good thing?

There can be a wide variety of reasons as to why housing association mergers may be good for both the business and the customer. Pooling of resources is one thing. So from an economies of scale perspective there may be better deals put on the table from suppliers because you are bigger. They could be other synergies in that one may have more strength than the other in a particular part of the business and vice versa. It was great to see that building communities is what matters most in this particular merger. So the mission statement here is about putting the customer first!

Avoid the pitfalls of changing over to less dynamic IT systems

It’s great that they are putting their customer first. However, it is important that they avoid potential pitfalls. I have seen this in different organisations especially when it comes to switching IT systems. For example, the smaller, you could argue more nimble, party of a merger may actually have a better IT systems in place. However, you will find in some cases following a merger they will revert to the IT systems of the larger organisation. I am not saying this happens all the time. It does happen though. So it’s important to take into account the customer experience and that of employees for that matter. So you can’t assume that the larger party of a merger has the best IT systems in place. It is important to evaluate this early on and make the correct decision otherwise it could prove both costly and time consuming.

Organisational change management with clear communication is key

So how do you knit together two organisations? You need to have a clear mission statement for the enlarged organisation. This needs to filter down the line in the form of objectives and goals through the different departments and to each employee. They all have their part to play in the future of the enlarged organisation.

There may also be a nagging worry that jobs may be under threat when two housing associations merge. This is why it’s so important to have a clear communications strategy in place. Staff as well as customers like to be kept updated. This will be a big help when it comes to bedding in both organisations. It is also great for you customers so they are aware of what you are doing, how it affects them and the reasons for doing this.

No doubt there will be teething problems during housing association mergers, however a clear communication strategy will be a big help during the bedding in process.


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