Alpha, a not for profit Housing Association, took the decision to replace its inefficient and laborious systems for managing its fixed assets with a specialist software solution from Real Asset Management (RAM), an MRI Software Company. Previously using a mix of spreadsheets alongside its housing management system to manage the depreciation of its £28 million asset base on an annual basis, it was essential to move from this time consuming process and make it a monthly task to improve efficiency and productivity.
Alpha is based on the Wirral and specialises in sheltered accommodation for the over 55’s. Employing approximately 100 staff, it is a long-standing organisation with more than 880 apartments in 11 local authorities across the North of England. Its developments offer residents a place of their own to live, but with the security and company of a dedicated team of Development Managers and Housekeepers close by whenever they are needed.
In terms of timing, Alpha was also in the process of changing its housing management software provider and its preferred choice did not offer a component accounting module, which reinforced its decision to review its fixed asset systems. Gemma Livesey-Scicluna, Assistant Management Accountant at Alpha comments, “Prior to purchasing RAM’s software, our property assets were maintained in our housing management software with an import created annually which involved approximately 4 weeks of work between ourselves and the software provider to get the data in and verified. To make matters worse, we were then managing our non-property assets separately via a spreadsheet”. Livesey-Scicluna continues, “It was essential to select a system which would support the monthly calculation of depreciation and one which could produce the required journals for our Exchequer finance system.”
RAM’s component accounting software was swiftly identified and selected as system of choice following a recommendation from its finance system provider as well as receiving a number of positive endorsements from existing RAM clients. Alpha felt assured that the software ticked all of its boxes and offered good value for money.
Going forward, the new software will manage Alpha’s 880+ properties which is due to rise to 960 by September 2020. The system will centrally track and control its housing assets consisting of such components as bathrooms, kitchens, boilers and electrics as well as its non-property assets such as computers, mobiles, tables and chairs. Livesey-Scicluna states, “We are fully anticipating to realise quick win benefits from the use of RAM’s solution. Having the capability to schedule monthly depreciation calculation runs will not only enable huge time saving efficiencies and simplify procedure at year-end, but crucially, allow us to exercise more stringent control over our month-end accounts, ensuring timely and accurate reporting in compliance with FRS 102”.
Essentially, the new system will transform Alpha’s ability to manage its asset base. Being able to maintain complete and up to date information on asset status, history and location will increase transparency and visibility whilst having the functionality to process batch events including revaluations and impairments and being able to account for historic cost valuation will significantly automate its manual procedures and improve productivity.
Livesey-Scicluna concludes, “We have been very impressed thus far with the level of service received from RAM. Our implementation manager was an absolute pleasure to work with, always available for assistance regardless of the time of day whilst ensuring that the project ran smoothly at all times. We look forward to a strong working relationship with RAM going forward”.