1 December 2023

At Xledger we offer a consultative service to housing associations, supporting them through their finance transformation journeys as they implement our finance software. With our growing experience in the social housing sector, we caught up with Senior Solutions Consultant Laura Jolly, who has first-hand experience working within housing associations, to get her thoughts on some of the current leading themes for finance professionals working in the sector, including the challenges they’re facing with digital transformation, long-term planning over short-term fixes, and how to remain agile as an organisation.

Click to read the Q&A with Senior Solution Consultant Laura Jolly.

Q: What advice would you give to a finance professional within a housing association going through a digital transformation project, and what is the role of leadership throughout?

A: Leadership is key in digital transformation, ensuring that all stakeholders are engaged in the changes warrants buy-in from the wider business. Often a finance system is picked by senior management, but it’s the employees who will mainly use the system. Getting them involved in the process early and taking their needs into account will ultimately create a more positive culture around change.

On top of good communication, it is important to ensure that teams are ready for the change and willing to embrace new processes. Changing finance systems is never a one-person job, so having clear and defined roles within a dedicated team and having a joint vision as to what the team wants out of the new system is key. Embracing efficiency is crucial, so the finance team should be prepared for streamlined processes that go beyond their current system.

Q: What challenges might a housing association come up against if they are only looking at short-term fixes?

A: Short-term fixes will only create short term solutions. A lot of housing associations have used the same finance system that came with their housing management system for many years. Now that they need new technology, it's worth taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. As technology has developed, acquiring a best-of-breed finance system allows finance teams/leaders to look at long-term planning for their organisation. Cutting corners and relying on an out-of-date system will only put a plaster over challenges. With powerful reporting tools your housing association can accurately forecast and make it easier to plan ahead, allowing you to make those business-critical decisions to futureproof your business.

Q: Has technology been effective in helping housing associations to be agile and reactive to their sector's needs?

A: Integrations have come a long way and gone are the days of having to use the finance system that was the only option when choosing a housing management system. Now with the evolution of integration technology, it means having a powerful finance system suited to your needs AND the right housing management system is possible, creating long-term solutions. Having a best-of-breed finance software means the finance team has increased visibility and transparency of their numbers and are always looking at a single source of truth.

The finance department is a ‘cost’ to any housing association and utilising technology to make the team more efficient is a key solution to remaining agile. It allows the team to move away from timely manual transactional tasks and move towards more value-added activities such as acting more as a strategic business partner with access to in-depth analysis.

If you would like to hear Laura speak more on this subject, follow the link to her speaking session at last year’s National Housing Finance Conference here: https://xledger.com/uk/watch-our-speaker-session-at-housing-finance-conference-2023/.


Tina has been Chief Executive of Watford Community Housing since its formation in 2007. She is a qualified accountant who has been in the housing sector for over 30 years, working as a Finance Director in three housing organisations – CHP, Worthing Homes and New Era – and as a financial analyst at the Housing Corporation. As part of Watford Community Housing’s wider Group activities, Tina serves on the Clarendon Living Board and as a Clarendon Living representative to our Hart Homes joint venture with Watford Borough Council. She is also Chair of both our Three Rivers Homes and Hertsmere Living Ltd joint venture companies with key local authority partners, and is co-founder of the Greener Herts partnership, which is working to make Hertfordshire’s homes more sustainable. Tina has been a Non-Executive Director for a number of housing and charitable organisations, and is currently the Interim Chair of Parasol Homes.

Q&A with Senior Solution Consultant Laura Jolly