The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is home of professional standards in the housing sector, with a clear mission to empower everyone in housing with advice, support and knowledge to be the best they can be. So it was a natural fit when CIH approached Avela for strategic ICT support.
For over a century CIH has been the voice of housing, with over 16,000 members across the UK and further afield in Canada and Hong Kong. Serving a large and geographically spread membership presented unique technical challenges, leading CIH to seek a partner fit to support digital change at the organisation.
“Avela worked with us to help us identify our requirements for a new customer relationship management (CRM) system and a new website, then helped us through procurement to select the partners we were going to work with to develop those new systems. ” said Gavin Smart, CIH Deputy Chief Executive.
“It was good to have another strategic voice in the room to check our direction of travel, to check our decisions, to make sure we'd covered everything off.”
Avela aims to be a trusted partner or ‘critical friend’ to organisations and this was borne out in CIH’s experience throughout the process.
“We needed that trusted advisor to both inform us and challenge us, to help us critique ourselves,” said Gavin. “To make sure that we were making the right decisions and selecting the right partners as well.”
Building strong relationships is at the heart of Avela’s partnership approach and the experience that Avela’s strategic support lead Ian Cresswell brought with him was critical.
“Ian built up a very good working relationship with the whole team at CIH,” said Gavin.
“I think everyone recognised and respected his expertise but actually it's also about his personal style as well - the way in which he provided the advice and support - made it very easy to work with him.”
Key to the success of the project was developing a clear understanding of CIH’s needs, helping Avela to deliver a tailor-made package of support.
“I think the way in which we worked with Avela was almost entirely driven by what we needed in terms of support and advice and critical friend,” said Gavin. “It definitely wasn't a ‘one size fits all’.”
Avela puts building long-term relationships at the heart of everything it does and ongoing support is key to delivering success for the CIH. Avela has become a critical friend, offering independent and impartial advice to an organisation that for over 100 years has sought to do the same for its members.
“Every now and again we go back to Ian and the Avela team to get their input on the next phase of what we're trying to achieve,” said Gavin.
“At that level they've become a trusted partner and we continue to use them as a touchstone, as a sounding post whenever we think we need that kind of input.
“I can see that continuing.”