Underpin your applications with a bit of Microsoft Dataverse and grease

Here at TSG we often get asked this question by Housing Associations: “Why would I want to adopt Microsoft Dataverse?”. This is a very good question and one I am going to answer using: failing building foundations. You’re probably thinking “here he goes again” but stick with me on this. 

Failing building foundations are made stronger by the process of underpinning. In construction, underpinning is defined as “the process of strengthening the foundation of an existing building or other structure”.  

Underpinning may be necessary for a variety of reasons: 

  • The original foundation isn’t strong or stable enough. 
  • The usage of the structure has changed. 
  • The properties of the soil supporting the foundation may have change or were mischaracterized during design. 
  • The construction of nearby structures necessitates the excavation of soil supporting existing foundations. 
  • To increase the depth or load capacity of existing foundations to support the addition of another storey to the building (above or below ground). 
  • It is more economical, due to land price or otherwise, to work on the present structure’s foundation than to build a new one. 
  • Earthquake, flood, drought or other natural causes have caused the structure to move, requiring stabilisation of foundation soils and/or footings. 

So can we relate the above to a Housing Management and back office applications? 

  • The original application isn’t strong or stable enough. 
  • The usage of the application has changed. 
  • Applications are expensive and slow to adapt to changing functional needs. 
  • Software vendors are underinvesting in new software development and expect customers to foot the bill. 
  • The properties of the infrastructure supporting the application may have changed or were mischaracterized during design. 
  • The addition of new requirements in the business requires changes to the infrastructure supporting the existing application. 
  • To increase the functionality of the existing application to support new legislation. 
  • It is more economical, due to the cost of change, to work on the present application than to implement a whole new application. 
  • Merger or acquisitions have resulted in a new business and IT landscape, requiring stabilisation of applications and/or processes. 
  • Existing HMS apps were never built for the digital online always on era. 
  • Legacy apps were originally conceived and designed for back-office staff rather than built to deliver a modern customer experience. 

Now, before we go any further, I would like to point out that this article is in no way an attack on housing management software providers. We are sympathetic to the complex nature of these applications and still feel that total replacement with a solution built on the Dynamics platform is some way off both from a technical and cost perspective. 

However, we feel that in order to satisfy customers expectations for ‘always on’ services, Housing Associations need to underpin their traditional legacy back-office apps and HMS systems with modern SaaS cloud digital applications.  

Adopting Dataverse and the Power Platform enables you to implement no code/low code SaaS applications, mobile ready and offline capable by default on top of a Common Data Source.  

Rather than rip out your entire Housing Management solution (which as you know is a costly and time-consuming exercise), you can begin a journey of migrating functionality from the Housing Management solution into the Dataverse platform to provide colleagues and tenants with integrated modern cloud solutions. The Housing Management solution may remain as the main system of record for properties and tenants consuming output from the Dataverse solutions and left to perform the complex sector related functions. Maybe going forward your IT Applications profile can move towards the below. 

Platform  Business Functions Provided 
Legacy Housing Management Solution  Tenancy Data  Property Data  Asset Data 
Financial Data     
Dataverse SaaS Applications  Complaints  Garages & Parking  ASB 
New Build Sales  Case Management  Service Management 
Compliance   Contract Management  Property Inspections 

 

Recently a large housing association approached TSG and said they needed D365 to replace a failing .NET Microsoft Access based solution, used to manage processes and actions for their supported living service.  

It was a common story of a solution being developed in-house by an employee who was “good at that computer stuff” and said person had since moved on to pastures new, so there was no documentation and the whole thing was in danger of collapse. 

We told them that they didn’t need D365 but they said they did. When we asked why, they said “because it’s got CRM”. We explained that in fact, they had not asked for CRM.  

We asked them, “Why don’t you consider Dataverse? Licences are less than D365 and under the bonnet it’s the same platform and you can even migrate apps in Dataverse to D365 going forward.”  

They said, “Hm, tell me more, tell me more like does it have a friend?!” Oh yes, it has many friends – actually 200 friends to connect to in order to craft integrated solutions. 

Legacy systems were built for another era and modern cloud platforming is now the only way forward to deliver a contemporary digital service experience that meets customers’ expectations for 24×7 housing services. 

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, or want to migrate processes from your core solutions to a single SaaS platform, please get in touch to discuss further. It might just be that Dataverse could be the one that you want. 

Oh, and by the way, that old .NET application is now “a rocking and a rolling” on Dataverse. 

Written by Rob Fletcher,