Demystifying Dataverse for Housing Associations: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Dataverse? 

At its core, Dataverse is a platform for building low code business applications. It enables you to unify, manage, structure and liberate your data. Dataverse has a strong heritage as Microsoft Dynamics 365 is built on the same technology.  Find out what’s in the box here.

With Dataverse you can easily apply business logic over the top of your data. For example, you could decide to establish a set of ‘golden rules’ to govern your data quality.  

What if we could have a single common data service that starts to address these problems by unifying your data assets together into one place? 

We know that most housing associations really struggle with data sprawl, data duplication and data quality issues. These duplicated datasets need constant maintenance and synchronisation to keep them reconciled with each other.  

And then of course there is everyone’s favourite tool – Excel! Excel compounds the duplication even further as practitioners compensate for their lack of training and limited application functionality across their current systems. Is your gas servicing programme run from your cyclical asset management system or is it powered by Excel? You might be very surprised with the answer! 

Put simply, there is no common data architecture and no single version of the truth. It would be fair to say that confidence in data is low. 

What if you could liberate your data for the people who need it to help them deliver great services? 

Another problem we see with data in housing is that it is largely stuck in the legacy back office transactional systems or is stored on pieces of paper in the office. Those legacy systems were built for an era before mobile, cloud and digital. An era before Covid! 

What if we could liberate our data from the back-office and make it available to our field staff, housing officers, maintenance surveyors, construction colleagues and the 80% of staff who work from home or work in the field and who are in direct contact with our customers. 

Data can only support the delivery of services, if is available to the right people at the time they need it, and it is accurate! When applied to data, the notions of accuracy, relevance and availability are key to liberating the potential of data to drive real-time operational performance and overall organisational effectiveness. 

Data Driven Business Transformation in Housing – What if we could transform the reactive approach to a predictive/pre-emptive service model?  

If we are serious about digital transformation in housing, then this journey has got to start with your data. Data can genuinely transform your reactive service model to a pre-emptive approach. Housing services are currently built on failure. Customers wait for something to go wrong, report it to us and then we fix it. The customer experience is immediately poor because their relationship with their landlord has become about a basic hygiene factor rather than something which is seen as creating some value. Right from the start, this transaction is a negative experience overall than a positive one. 

The reactive service model has formed the basis of service delivery for hundreds of years across many sectors.  

We know that a reactive boiler repair is about five times more expensive when compared to a pre-emptive appointment. We have all personally experienced the shock, horror and exorbitant costs of an emergency gas engineer as the winter strikes, the mercury suddenly hits -10 degrees and the boiler packs up! If you extrapolate the internal reactive failure mode costs across all housing services, the economic case of a data driven transformation becomes quite compelling. 

What are the benefits of using Dataverse? 

With Microsoft Dataverse, you can start to address some of the opportunities that we have discussed here.  

  1. Federating your data silos into an accessible and unified data architecture  
  1. Deploy automated business logic and golden rules to control about your data quality  
  1. To maintain data veracity, liberate your data and empower your staff with it  

How can all of this help me modernise my applications? 

Dataverse is your gateway and is the first step you need to take towards accessing the wider Microsoft Power Platform. Power Portals, Power Virtual Assistant, Power Automate, Power BI, Power Apps. 

Using Dataverse and the Power Platform you can democratise and accelerate software development while avoiding the high costs and risk associated with a typical housing system replacement project. You can increase your use of the Power Platform to reduce your reliance on your older legacy systems until they are organically displaced by this modern mobile first, data first, advanced cloud capability from Microsoft. 

I would rather commit to a long-term digital strategy that directs my precious and limited financial resources at my future digital assets rather than the technology assets that served me well in the past and which were built for an entirely different era. 

This is the strategy we advocate at TSG, and we genuinely believe this to be a smarter approach. It is lower risk, lower cost and offers high reward through the rapid delivery of agile MVP (minimum viable product) at pace. Plus, it encourages human customer centred design thinking and agile Devops principles to flourish across your housing association.  

Join our lunch and learn session

We hope you have found this FAQ useful, and if you’re interested in learning more about what Dataverse can do for your housing association, you can register for our lunch and learn session on Wednesday 15th September at 12.30. Please also feel free to reach out to Kirsty.Marsden@tsg.com if you would like a further discussion. 

Written by Kirsty Marsden (Housing Team Senior Service Design Lead),