Paradigm Housing Group is a leading provider of affordable housing in England. Paradigm owns and manages over 14,000 properties and provides a wide range of housing and support services throughout the South, East Midlands and London.
Paradigm used Visual LANSA to develop its document management, CRM and financial systems, Visual LANSA Framework to redevelop its core management system and LANSA Integrator to exchange information with business partners. All development and maintenance is done in-house by a development team of two.
Mike Silk, head of IT at Paradigm Housing Group, says, "The productivity of Visual LANSA Framework lets us meet business requirements much more quickly than in the past. Without it, I would not have undertaken such a large redevelopment project as replacing our core system with our small team of two developers. I estimate that we saved at least 350,000 pounds in license fees by not purchasing an off-the-shelf housing management system."
Without Visual LANSA Framework, I would not have undertaken such a large redevelopment project as replacing our core system with our small team of two developers.
- A Diverse Portfolio
- An Expanding Solution
- Improved Customer Satisfaction
- Improved Developer Productivity
- A Clear Return on Investment
- Company and System Information
A Diverse Portfolio
Paradigm provides a diverse mix of housing, including affordable rent, low cost home ownership, foyer accommodation, supported housing, private sale and private rent. Paradigm also acts as an agent for over 30 local authorities in the provision of services, such as housing waiting list, temporary accommodation, housing advice services and running shelter schemes were care services are provided.
"As a social housing and charity, the industry is heavily regulated. There are a quite a few peculiarities to the legislation that governs the way we operate. Legislation and regulation changes frequently impact on the IT systems. This was one of the reasons why we started developing our own software back in 1991."
"But by 1999 maintenance was so time consuming, that we either had to grow the IT department significantly or look at a more productive development environment."
"With its short learning curve, Visual LANSA was the most practical tool to productively develop and maintain software that could be deployed across Windows and IBM i. We also liked the robustness of LANSA’s commitment control, as it guarantees data integrity and provides for a very tight environment across all systems."
"Our first LANSA project was to build our own document management solution. Commercial document management packages were too expensive, plus we wanted the system to integrate closely with our core system."
"We developed the bare bones of the integrated document management system in six to eight weeks," says Silk. "LANSA's easy integration with ActiveX controls to access scanned documents helped get the first stage up and running quickly."
We developed the bare bones of the integrated document management system in six to eight weeks with Visual LANSA
An Expanding Solution
The document management system was implemented in 1999 and has grown to include contact handling and integration with the tenancy management system, essentially becoming Paradigm's customer management solution.
In 2000, Silk and his team started building Visual LANSA enquiry screens over commonly used core data to present key elements of the legacy system via a true Windows interface, integrated with MS Office. "Visual LANSA became the bridge between our old legacy system and the new core system," says Silk.
In 2003, Paradigm used Visual LANSA to replace its packaged financial system and implemented many other smaller applications, especially in the Human Resource area.
In 2005, Paradigm started rolling out a Visual LANSA Framework-based replacement of its (RPG-based) legacy housing management system. "Visual LANSA Framework's productivity lets us meet business requirements much more quickly than in the past. Without Visual LANSA Framework I would not have undertaken such a large redevelopment project with our small team of two developers," says Silk.
Silk also finds the application architecture created with Visual LANSA Framework, to be very open and easy expandable,” Making it very easy to slot in new functionality as we take on new types of services."
In 2005, Paradigm used LANSA Integrator to automate the exchange of property repair and maintenance work, that was outsourced. Initially the data exchange was based on XML documents posted to the outsourcer’s FTP site, later on exchange also included web services.
Visual LANSA Framework's productivity lets us meet business requirements much more quickly than in the past
Improved Customer Satisfaction
Wendy Chalmers, head of housing operations, says, "Our system gives us exactly what we need. We can easily navigate with tabs to check a tenant’s rent account, the original application, special service needs and so on."
"The system maintains an audit trail of exactly who said what to who and when. So, when a customer calls our customer service staff has instant access to all related documents and can search the history of correspondence and phone calls."
"From a customer perspective, we can now deliver a far more immediate and comprehensive service. We survey residents every three years and feedback shows improved satisfaction."
"The housing sector is driven by economies, everyone wants more for less. We recruit fewer additional staff to manage a growing number of properties. To ensure that we can demonstrate our unit management cost, we have to be as lean and mean as possible."
"Last but not least, the system is very robust. I cannot remember the last time it went down," concludes Chalmers.
From a customer perspective, we now deliver a far more immediate and comprehensive customer service
Improved Developer Productivity
"We are very happy with the quality of the software that we’ve been able to produce with LANSA," says Silk. "Since going live, we can count the bugs of our new systems on one hand. I am sure we would have a bigger support issue with a package solution."
"Defining all business rules centrally in the LANSA Repository is an important factor in the high quality of the systems we produce. LANSA's high-level language is very straightforward as well, so it is easy to write programs."
"We created as many reusable components as possible. For example, we wrote a service that can be re-used anywhere in the system to post journals when a financial transaction is generated. This reduces the risk of coding errors and improves productivity tremendously."
"It's hard to compare LANSA's development productivity with RPG, COBOL or other traditional languages, because we could not have built our current system with them. But I would estimate that development with Visual LANSA is three to four times quicker than traditional development methods.
"Visual LANSA Framework doubles Visual LANSA's productivity. It produces very polished looking programs that are up and running with minimal effort. You don’t need to worry about the programming to handle the user interface, navigation, error handling and other plumbing. The programs themselves are very simple," says Silk.
Visual LANSA Framework doubles Visual LANSA's productivity and produces very polished looking programs that are up and running with minimal effort
A Clear Return on Investment
"One of the reasons we selected LANSA originally, was that it gave us portability options should we ever decide to move away from IBM i. Soon all our systems will be LANSA-based, meaning we can move applications from IBM i to Windows and visa verse. Plus Cloud and Linux as well.”
"All the development was done by our two developers. I estimate that we saved at least 350,000 pounds in license fees by not purchasing an off-the-shelf housing management system. The annual maintenance fees alone would have funded our two developers. We have saved money and have total control of the software."
"Next on the agenda is to do more with the Web. Customers will be able to do their own account enquiries and local authorities will get access to the programs we run on their behalf. LANSA's central repository approach makes it easy to deploy to different environments. As we extend our services to third parties, we also expect to make more use of Web Services."
"One of LANSA's biggest benefits is that it insulates you from the underlying technology. Rather than having technology silos in my team, I have experts in delivering the business solution across technologies and platforms via LANSA. We don’t have to worry about all the ins and outs of XML or Web development. We only need a basic understanding of the technology to deliver a business solution," concludes Silk.
I estimate we saved at least £350,000 in license fees. The annual maintenance fees alone would have funded our two developers. We have saved money and have total control of the software.
Company and System Information
- Paradigm is one of the UK's leading social housing providers in the South East region of the country, managing over 14,000 homes across 33 local authorities. Headquartered in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire and employing over 450 people. Paradigm is both a charity and registered social housing provider.
- For more information visit: www.paradigmhousing.co.uk
- Paradigm's IT team of two developers, a network administrator, an operations manager and two help desk staff does all systems development, maintenance and support. The LANSA system contains approximately 400 files, 4,000 fields and 1,000 components.
- Case Study - Paradigm Housing delivers Digital Transformation with LANSA
- News Article - Paradigm Housing Delivers Digital Transformation with LANSA's Low-Code Development Platform