Circle Housing uses iServer to provide a repository for all their architecture assets and increase efficiency
Circle Housing is one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the United Kingdom, with over 65 000 homes across the country.
In the years following its establishment in 1968, Circle Housing has grown to comprise of nine social housing association partners, providing desirable homes, sustainable communities, and trusted services to around 300 000 customers. They also provide a range of support services through Centra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Circle Housing, which acts as their care, support, telecare and commercial property partner.
Circle Housing implemented Orbus Software’s iServer in 2011 as part of their Business Transformation portfolio, to provide a repository for all architecture assets within the organization. Key projects within this portfolio included the re-tendering of Repairs and Maintenance contracts, and Customer Access. Circle Housing’s aim for the Repairs and Maintenance work stream was to improve their repair services and save £10 million per year through efficiency improvements.
The main issue faced by Circle Housing’s Architecture and Business System Design team was the lack of a common standard in their Architecture and BPA assets. Additionally, the lack of a consistent approach to the storage and reuse of the organization’s assets devalued the capital in diagrams. As such, alignment of information systems and data with business need was a difficult task.
In order to increase efficiency, Circle Housing needed to map the current architecture landscape, as well as the design process and systems support to enable new ways of working across the organization. Additionally, new maintenance contractors required interfaces with Circle Housing’s systems to receive orders and submit invoices.
Guided by these objectives, Circle Housing established a set of key requirements they wanted to be met by a modeling tool. This included a structured repository with facility for document management, which adhered to standards.
It was important that the tool was flexible, with the ability to customize to the pre-existing Circle Architecture Framework, and that it allowed for the easy reuse of objects in the meta-model. It was essential that the tool offered compatibility with TOGAF®, and also included a portal through which business users could access the organization’s assets quickly and easily.
In terms of the larger picture, iServer plays a significant part in Circle Housing’s Enterprise Architecture work. At the moment, however, the Business Analysis picture is not quite as clear, and moving forward this is something that Circle Housing would like to explore in more depth.
Most Business Analysts at Circle Housing see the benefit of using iServer to better exploit their work, and it is predicted that the adoption of iServer by the BA team will bring huge benefits to their ability to add business value. For Circle Housing, iServer is a place to control and reuse all their valuable Enterprise Architecture and Business Analysis assets, making them available throughout the business.
Circle Housing chose iServer because it offered all the right features required for the project, at a price that was affordable. Today, Circle Housing use iServer in combination with the modules of iServer Portal and iServer Data Exchange, as well as the ‘out of the box’ iServer solutions for TOGAF 9.1 and Business Process Analysis. During the search for the right tool, not everyone in the team were convinced that the benefit of enterprise architecture tools outweighed the potential problems that could arise from the restrictions a tool can bring. However, since implementing iServer, Circle Housing’s Enterprise Architects are fully committed to the tool, while the Data and Solution Architects are still undergoing training. In addition, Circle’s Business Analysts are exploring the use of iServer to support and accelerate adoption of standards.
For Circle Housing, iServer presented the ideal offering for their requirements, particularly in terms of the benefits that iServer Portal and the TOGAF 9.1 Solution were able to bring. Three years since its implementation in 2011, it is clear that iServer has helped Circle Housing meet all their Enterprise Architecture objectives. Today, they routinely produce TOGAF assets from iServer for projects and strategic planning, the repository supporting their use of the TOGAF ADM as an architecture process. The reuse of objects enables the team to see the impact of change more clearly, while iServer Portal enables the sharing of assets with business users, and also promises to be useful in future Business Analysis activities.
Within Circle Housing’s architecture team, certain capabilities of iServer have shown to be of particular benefit to different roles. The Enterprise Architects benefit from asset reuse and the discipline of a repository that is based on a framework, while the Data Architect benefits from a place to store Entities and their relationships.
Overall, Circle Housing identified four key capabilities of iServer that have significantly benefited their architecture initiative since its implementation:
- Re-usability of objects
- Impact traceability
- TOGAF 9.1 alignment
- iServer Portal
- Ability to share assets with the wider organization
Through the implementation of iServer and its use within the organization over the past three years, Circle Housing have been able to meet all the objectives of their Enterprise Architecture initiative, and foresee iServer bringing huge benefits to their Business Analysis team in the future.
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