2019-11-12

Effectively Ensuring Internal Processes for Data Integration are Consistent and Controlled

Explore the partnership between Thames Valley and Metropolitan which ensures internal processes for data integration are consistent and controlled.

The success of a major provider partnership is said to show the sector is “beginning to wake up to the fact that data in the wrong place or not accessible is essentially useless”.

Taj Nota, VP Professional Services UK at data fluency NGDATA, cites the experience of the Thames Valley/Metropolitan partnership as demonstrating that, without the right data strategy in place, providers can find themselves drowning in multiple mismatched data sets or with the inability apply or measure accurate KPIs.

“Housing is beginning to wake to the fact that data in the wrong place or not accessible is essentially useless,” said Nota.

The next phase of the project will see NGDATA helping Metropolitan Thames Valley normalise the new integration process across the business and help reduce the duplicate systems brought on by the partnership.

This works towards Metropolitan Thames Valley bringing integration in house, with their own development team – leveraging NGDATA team members to provide additional capacity where needed.

Prior to the partnership a year ago, the two organisations were seeking consultancy on how to manage the increase in data and bring together the data from business systems of the former organisations.

The coming together more than doubled the number of business systems used to a total of over 300.

In addition, the chosen approach would need to support the future growth of the company, as well as facilitate strategic systems changes, such as implementing new CRM software and changes to financial systems.

Any data integration partner had to ensure Metropolitan Thames Valley’s internal processes for data integration were consistent and controlled, delivering a quick time to value by reducing employee time spent manually moving data around on spreadsheets or implementing system integrations.

The project would also need to help the company maximise its developer throughput.

For NGDATA, the focus was not only which new software to implement, but how to leverage the capabilities of the existing Metropolitan Thames Valley team.

NGDATA began the consultancy phase of the project in July 2018, and a pilot of the proposed solution ran in autumn of the same year.

A key challenge identified in the consulting process was that, previously, each developer would apply their own individual method and coding language choice to each integration.

All parties agree that a shift toward a more consistent approach has enabled the development team to quickly and easily understand integrations when optimisation or updating is required.

Implementing standard integration approaches also removes the need for developers to build integrations ‘from scratch’ each time and allows them to understand the underlying build of each integration across the business systems.

NGDATA is currently providing ongoing integration support to Metropolitan Thames Valley.

“One of our developers has reported being able to complete 70 integration jobs in half a day, whereas before this project our staff would require half a day for each integration,” said Douglas Silverstone, head of data at Metropolitan Thames Valley.

“Other business teams have found that they are able to focus their time on key tasks rather than data-related admin, such as cross-referencing information and gathering reports from multiple systems.”

This blog was written by Douglas Silverstone, Head of Data, Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association.

Douglas Silverstone will present on The Housing Data Forum at Inside Government’s Housing Data Forum on Wednesday 11th December 2019.