2nd August 2022

Reinventing service charges at Thirteen Group

Thirteen Group has been implementing Trace's BlueBox solution for housing association service charges

Since 2019, the Thirteen Group has been implementing Trace’s BlueBox service charge solution for housing associations.

The organisation chose BlueBox after an extensive tender process. This involved site visits to other housing associations (including those already using Trace’s software), a comprehensive analysis of all potential systems on the market, and a review of related social value issues.

Thirteen’s objective was to replace a spreadsheet-based system, which had developed organically. It had become overly complex and was unable to scale.

For an organisation growing as fast as Thirteen – it has some 72,000 residents of whom 10,000 pay service charges – it was vital that they found a robust system which could both scale easily and provide total, instant transparency for customers.

"Thirteen’s objective was to replace a spreadsheet-based system, which had become overly complex and unable to scale."

Trace Solutions

The implementation is now nearing completion. Thirteen and Trace have recently prepared a joint case study that describes the project.

Click here to download that case study in full: Service Charges, Software and Social Value.

Thirteen Group service chargesBut for the purposes of this article, let’s just skip straight to Thirteen’s conclusion:

“Some 80% of our service charge process is now fully automated, and we plan to add the final, more complex accounts by summer 2022.

Integrated with our Orchard housing system, Trace’s Bluebox software has brought accuracy and transparency to a previously opaque area of our business.

The system has now also been integrated with external print services, to supply each customer with a personalised explanation of how their service charge has been calculated and what items they are paying for.

Those customers have responded positively to the additional information.

Within our own management team, the sophistication and comprehensiveness of the available reporting has been described as ‘mind blowing’. We can now see where all our costs come from, which in turn allows us to take positive steps to control or refine expenditure.

Best of all, the solution is completely scalable. We can now grow as much as we like, without the need for extra staff.”

"Within our own management team, the sophistication and comprehensiveness of the available reporting has been described as 'mind blowing'."

Rob Thomson, Head of Finance (Income), Thirteen Group

What’s next for BlueBox at Thirteen?

Trace’s software offers additional built-in functionality which Thirteen is keen to exploit.

For example, it can automate and manage the Section 20 process, rent processing, and rental uplifts.

Thirteen’s plan is to get other departments within the Group engaged and enthused with the project, so that they too can see the potential that BlueBox offers.

We’ll leave the last word to Rob Thompson, our Head of Finance (Income) at Thirteen Group, who initiated the entire project.

‘What we’ve got now is a system that our staff absolutely love. That’s the key. If people enjoy using the system and think you’ve given them the tools to do their job, they’ll come on the journey with you.’


 

"What we’ve got now is a system that our staff absolutely love. That’s the key. If people enjoy using the system and think you've given them the tools to do their job, they’ll come on the journey with you."

Rob Thompson, Head of Finance (Income), Thirteen Group

About Thirteen Group

Thirteen is committed to being a great housing association and landlord, as well as building new properties for outright sale (including affordable options to help people get a foot onto the housing ladder). A recent crop of awards seems to confirm that commitment.

In recent years, Thirteen Group has grown rapidly to become one of the largest housing associations in the North East of England. The Group how has over 35,000 properties under management, with 72,000 customers, and plans to invest more than £1 billion over the next five years.

But providing homes is only part of the Thirteen story.

Our ultimate aim is to help people live independently and be the best they can be, creating resilient communities that know how to help themselves.


Get in touch

If you’d like to know more about Trace’s service charge solution, please call us on +44 (0)20 7825 1299, email us at hello@tracesolutions.co.uk, or use the contact form below.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

×