Aareon QL integration with SDS Sequel

Aareon QL integration with SDS Sequel

Shelton Development Services and Aareon are pleased to announce the release of the integration between SDS Sequel and Aareon QL.

Shelton Development Services and Aareon are pleased to announce the release of the integration between SDS Sequel and Aareon QL.
SDS and Aareon are working together to support social housing organisations by automatically transferring property and component information from their SDS Sequel project management software into Aareon QL housing management software. This integration will solve the issue faced by many organisations of how to efficiently migrate new build data to their Housing Management System. Similarly, changes to property components can be pushed from Aereon QL back into Sequel. This means the QL / Sequel data can always be aligned without the need for manual intervention.

Aareon suggest QL customers who have the SDS product and with to avail themselves of the integration contact their Aareon Account Manager to obtain details of this integration, costs and prerequisites, prior to SDS attending their site for integration training.

SDS Sequel users can refer to the Aareon QL Integration Installation Guidelines (links to document below) to correctly configure Sequel’s Global Properties section. This document guides the users through the setup and how to manage the data flow.

“We are pleased to continue to support and reduce our customers’ workload by collaborating with the Aareon QL team to integrate Sequel and QL.” SDS CEO Phil Shelton.

Digital Marketplace on the G-Cloud 11 framework agreement

Digital Market Place

SDS ProVal, Sequel and HomeMatch software is now also available via GOV.UK Digital Marketplace on the GCloud 11 framework agreement.

The GOV Digital marketplace is a government website that organisations can use to find cloud software and services.

Buying through this framework means you can save time and the associated costs of entry into individual procurement contracts. Many organisations can use the Digital Marketplace as an alternative to the tender process since there is a standardised set of information from each supplier provided on the portal. This information is what is typically requested in a tender for cloud-based software.

One of the other benefits of using this service is that SDS will be able to work more closely with customers in the pre-sale process than would be possible using a traditional tender arrangement.

The G Cloud 11 framework is an agreement between the government and SDS where both agree to follow the terms of a formal procurement process as described in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). 

Three SDS products are available on the GOV.UK Digital Marketplace: SDS ProVal to appraise the feasibility of schemes; SDS Sequel to project manage the delivery of those schemes; and SDS HomeMatch to manage the conveyancing of the homes in those schemes. This means our customers have a simpler route to procure our brilliant software to develop more affordable homes.

“We are pleased to offer our software on the Gov.UK Digital Marketplace to enable more customers to manage their risk while helping to solve the housing crisis.” CEO Phil Shelton.

Active Asset Management

Active Asset Management

SDS Asset Consultancy works to the premise that Active Asset Management includes using good business intelligence to understand your current stock performance that helps plan for future investment and asset disposal, to make better use of capital as part of an integrated asset and business planning solution. Overall, Active Asset Management drives value from your stock.

We help our customers achieve this using an iterative KNOW, INVESTIGATE, ACT method to achieve both incremental marginal gains and strategic shifts in implementing an active asset management approach.

For example, we have worked with a customer in the south-west to establish if they really know their stock. We used SDS StockProfiler to profile their asset portfolio at the unit level. A simple review showed the NPV of large tranches of units being exactly the same. SDS Asset Consultancy investigated further and found significant amounts of cloned 30 year planned major repairs data. Our Asset Consultant presented the issues back to the customer for the customer to act. The customer reviewed the properties and updated their source data records with recent survey data.  Stock Profiler updated its cache with new information and generated an updated asset profile report of their portfolio to show the change in value of the portfolio.

The customer is able to evidence they know their stock and each unit’s value.  They can highlight the circa £20 million value the know, investigate and act process has released back to their business plan for potential use in capital investment or social programmes. The customer will continue to profile and get to know their portfolio, investigate and act as required. Overall, they will continue the process to drive value from their stock.

The SDS Asset Consultancy team is able to assist Boards, Executive and Asset Teams with developing their approach to Active Asset Management by identifying the next steps and opportunities available to the organisation.  Our consultants can work with you to jointly develop the strategy, policy and performance based action plans, can augment the Asset team to deliver the outputs directly or supplement your team on an interim basis. We can help solve your Value for Money reporting, Stock Profiling and Operational approaches to strategic asset management and regulatory requirements.

SDS celebrates 25 years

Celebrating our 25th year

Since we started we have moved to new offices and grown to 30 employees, and now have clients all over the UK, as well as Guernsey and Australia.

SDS specialises in providing the social housing sector with tools to help them deliver more affordable housing. This is achieved via the latest development software, created by our in-house team, and consultancy services with an emphasis on financial control and monitoring. SDS is best known in the UK for SDS ProVal, SDS Sequel and SDS Landval; the leading financial appraisal and project management packages used by over 300 housing associations, local authorities, private developers, and consultants.

We are proud of our friendly, creative, problem-solving ethos that uses our housing expertise and in-depth market knowledge to provide high-quality software tools, excellent customer support, accredited training and professional services.

 The company has been part of the evolution of technology in our industry and pride ourselves on innovation, creativity and longevity. For example, the grant funding initiative for shared ownership in the early 2000’s allowed the profits made on the sales to fund more development of social rent units. This drove a significant change to ProVal; new models were required that not only assessed both tenures independently but that could also combine both tenures, so that the value of the cross-subsidy could be measured appropriately.

During this time, it became clear that there was a heavy reliance on Excel spreadsheets to manage development programmes, so SDS started working on a solution to this, which became SDS Sequel. We spent two years visiting clients to gather requirements and distil common best practice and feedback to include in the user interface, and Sequel was launched in 2005.

By 2008, when successive security patches from Microsoft were causing increasing compatibility issues with Excel, we began to discuss creating a stand-alone version of ProVal that would store the appraisals in a central database rather than as documents in a file system. Out of these challenges, ProVal LS was born.

Along the way, SDS Catalyst was modernised and changed from an Excel spreadsheet solution to an entirely online benchmarking club with real-time results.

As part of our R&D effort, we make time to build prototype apps in new technologies. This investment enables us to determine appropriate coding usage and how efficiently they work, and especially how fast they are to use. This has allowed us to ensure we keep up with the latest technology developments, and continue creating innovative software for the social housing sector.

A few words from CEO Phil Shelton

I find it hard to believe I have been part of SDS for over 16 years, the time has flown by! The sector is constantly faced with new challenges, regulations, tenures and government policies (not to mention housing ministers!), and it is a pleasure to work with people in the sector who continually rise to these challenges and exceed them. I love what we do and I know my Dad would be proud to see the business continuing to grow.

A few words from CEO Rob Shelton

As a relatively recent addition to the SDS team I have been continually impressed by the dedication of the team we have here, and their ability to adapt our product and service offerings as our customers’ needs change. The landscape in this market is continually evolving, but the core values of customer service, innovation, and integrity instilled by our father are more relevant than ever.


SDS eLearning for ProVal and Sequel

SDS is thrilled to announce we have launched e-learning for ProVal LS and Sequel, to train our clients on the administration and end-user areas of our software packages.

This means we can provide the full training curriculum delivered through a live online GoToTraining package.

Just like face to face classroom training, you can still raise your hand when you need to ask a question.

The training is very interactive with a chance to participate in discussions, completing exercises and hands-on experience using the software. Users will experience the software in a virtual classroom where they will quickly learn how to navigate the systems and best practice methods to complete projects and appraisals.

There are numerous benefits to e-learning:

  • Learners find online courses are easier to concentrate in because they are not distracted by other delegates and classroom activity.
  • Training sessions are broken down into “bite-size” sessions which means training is more focused and learner can absorb and retain more information.
  • The flexibility of e-learning courses allows you to learn when it’s optimal. People are busy, especially working in development and our eLearning courses allow you to spread the training over a few session rather than taking whole days out of your schedule.
  • Organisations can save travel time and costs, make it easier for colleagues in different locations to attend the same training sessions.
  • Each session is recorded and learners have the opportunity to revisit the session after the training to review anything they might want to see again.  
  • Rather than completing activities in a classroom, learners will have the opportunity to break out into their own “virtual classroom” to participate in activities.  

We are taking bookings now for:

  • ProVal LS Admin training
  • ProVal LS End User training
  • Sequel Admin training
  • Sequel End User training

Book training now

Local Authorities: Getting the right housing delivery team in place

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Local Authorities: Getting the right housing delivery team in place

If you’re a Local Authority that has decided you want to start doing housing delivery for yourself, you’re going to need the right delivery team in place.  You may have existing staff with related skills, but if you haven’t directly delivered any housing for a few years, it’s highly likely that those in-house staff will struggle to get up to speed confidently and competently without a lot of support. Your current internal procedures and financial regulations will also probably need overhauling to suit the activity and give your team a clear fit-for-purpose structure within which to work.

Different Local Authorities decide to develop houses for various reasons.  For some it’s to increase the supply of all housing or only affordable housing, for others it’s to diversify housing stock, or it could be for income generation.  Your reasons will be tailored to your local circumstances, and you should get an approved strategy in place to articulate those. Your intentions and purpose will influence the most suitable methods for delivery.

One option would be to use the expertise of a partner organisation, which could be a nearby Local Authority that’s already delivering, or more likely a partner Registered Provider with a suitable track record to act as your Development Agent.  If you take this route, it’s recommended that you have an empowered and experienced member of staff on your team who can coordinate the client function. They would act as the interface with your Development Agent and administer a Development Agency Agreement that sets out the scope of the service, standards, fees, etc.  

The benefits of Development Agency are that you don’t need to retain an expensive team and the ongoing costs associated with it.  You get direct access to experienced staff with all the right tools already in place to support you in your aims. The downsides are that it’s harder to build internal capacity if that’s your longer-term aim.  It may also be difficult in some geographical areas to find a Registered Provider willing to allocate some of their resources to generating housing that won’t belong to them. If you have your land and can share the new housing generated with them in suitable numbers, then that may well prove sufficient incentive.

If you aim to have an in-house team and deliver directly in your own right, you should be comfortable that you’ll be creating sufficient numbers of new homes to make this worthwhile.  The costs, or an appropriate portion of the costs, of such staff, can be capitalised to the schemes they are delivering. This means that you don’t need to allow for a drain on revenue funding if your team are fully employed in delivery.  Of course, the new homes they create will generate revenue too. Setting your financial parameters and using an appropriate scheme financial appraisal tool will allow you to calculate economic impact over the development period and after the homes go into long-term management.

It may well make sense for you to share a specialist team between yourself and neighbouring partner authorities to share costs and create more favourable economies of scale.

Getting the right staff in place will quite likely be a challenge for all sorts of reasons.  Assuming you don’t have current experience in housing delivery, there’s no shame in accepting you won’t necessarily know what kind of people with what kind of skills you need.  

Perhaps you have a contract with an employment agency you could call upon.  Be aware though, that if you don’t know what you need, they will need to be a pretty specialist agency to correctly interpret your requirements and find you the right type of people.  Getting the recruitment right is crucial to your organisation’s success, so investing in some consultancy assistance here is highly advisable.

There are a limited number of people out there with the right skills, and the sector, in general, hasn’t been good over the years at training people in this specialism.  Having transferable skills is great, but this is a niche activity with added layers of specialist compliance. If you get things wrong, there can be some heavy prices to pay with the risk of reputational, financial and regulatory damage.  

You may also come across salary and benefit package issues.  Development staff are well remunerated for their skill set, and within a Registered Provider, these roles will usually come out pretty high up the salary rankings.  More often than not, they’ll also get a car allowance. You’ll need to find out what the current going rates are in your area and work out how you will be competitive as a potential employer.  Local authorities have a much better pension scheme on offer, so that’s worth emphasising. A good pension scheme is worth having. You might also offer flexible and home-based working opportunities, paid professional memberships, generous holiday allowances, training and CPD opportunities and so on.

Now let’s be frank … amongst many Registered Provider employees, Local Authorities seem to have a reputation as a less attractive place to work.  You may be up against this reputation, deserved or not! So, you would benefit from selling yourselves as the great, dynamic, groundbreaking, worthwhile organisations that you aspire to be!  

Many development staff went into the sector because giving something back to the community motivated them, and they enjoy being part of creating something tangible.  A lot of them have been through several major restructures and mergers, which can, of course, be very unsettling. They may have started their careers delivering bespoke schemes on a small scale, but now find themselves churning out large numbers of S.106 affordable housing requirement units where they have limited input and not much room for imagination.  Perhaps they started in the sector working for a fairly small housing association with a few hundred or a few thousand homes and now find themselves working in a very corporate environment with tens of thousands of units. Their work drivers are likely to be very different in that larger organisation, where ‘big finance’ has a major influence on development activity.

Contrast this with working for a Local Authority.  You’re going to be delivering homes within set geography, so the chance to know your area and the people you serve  … and potentially a lot less travelling! The proportion of S.106 affordable housing numbers in your portfolio may be a lot lower, and by contrast, your work could well be a lot more varied and creative.  The money you’re spending on new homes is less likely to be coming from bond finance, so the ‘big finance’ drivers that now prevail in Registered Providers fall away, which could mean a less bland workload.  You can deliver schemes purely because they’re what is needed in a locality, rather than because they’re needed to feed the machine. It might be easier to balance a programme of schemes with some money-spinners that cross-subsidise some less financially attractive proposals.  An attractive selling point as an employer could be all the reasons why Local Authorities are the new Housing Associations!

If you’re still struggling to recruit the right people, never be tempted to settle for the not-quite-right people, or the downright wrong people, just because they’re the only ones that applied.  Recruit for relevant experience, proven track record and attitude. If they don’t tick those three boxes, then they’re not going to get you where you want to be regarding delivery. It would be much better to get in interims and specialist consultants with experience at a strategic level until you can find the right people.  Those same interims or consultants will probably be able to help you find the right people. They should also be able to up-skill a handpicked selection of your in-house staff with transferable skills and an interest in your development aspirations.

Now a note on where to advertise roles.  Most development specialists are actively seeking a change of job are most likely to go to Inside Housing as their first port of call – on their website and in the weekly magazine.  LinkedIn and social media are also ideal places to post job adverts and ask people to share. Use any liaison or partnership meetings with Registered Providers and Local Enterprise Partnerships to let people know you’re recruiting. Wherever you advertise for staff, ensure the benefits of working with you and your organisation are clear.

If you’ve come across people that know what they’re talking about, informally invite them to apply, or ask them if they know of anybody who could be suitable.

When putting together an interview panel, you need at least one person involved who knows housing delivery inside out.  This is a specialist field, and it would be effortless to ask the wrong questions, not recognise the subtleties of a right answer, or be unable to uncover just how much experience someone has through probing.  You need to find out how your candidates are likely to fare working within a new team where some of the rules are not yet written. Depending on your development strategy, there could be a need for razor-sharp negotiating skills, the ability to broker flexible yet regulatory-compliant solutions, or a call for out of the ordinary due diligence.  Risk management will be critical, especially as development is capital-intensive.

Once you have one or two experienced people in place, you may want to consider growing your talent pool in this area.  New entrants to housing delivery in the social sector have been limited for some years, and there appears to be a decreasing number of people to choose from.  Running an in-house bespoke course is an option, or a mentoring programme using experienced professionals. This presents an excellent opportunity to grow an area of expertise that could be marketable to other authorities who aren’t as far ahead as you.

By the time you’ve got your team in place, you’ll want to retain them.  Regular reviews of progress in a lively culture which values continuous improvement make for an attractive place to work. As is getting new homes delivered at the same time as minimising the bureaucracy of decision making.

Author; Fiona Astin

Selling Shared Ownership Today in the Local Authority Sector – Part 1

Selling Shared Ownership Today in the Local Authority Sector - Part 1

As the renaissance of development activity by local authorities continues to gather pace, shared ownership development is starting to come into the conversation. This really should be no surprise, because although assisted home ownership schemes have come and gone over the years, shared ownership has consistently been helping people get on the home ownership ladder. And while there were some co-ownership type schemes dating back to the late 1960s, it was a local authority that gave birth to shared ownership as we know it. Birmingham City Council’s 50:50 Scheme was launched in 1975 and is widely acknowledged in the sector as the forefather of contemporary shared ownership.

With more than 35 years passed since that groundbreaking initiative in the Midlands, shared ownership is as relevant today as it always has been and arguably more so in this age of austerity. While there will still be the debate about what is the greatest need and where resources should be targeted, whatever the tenure being looked at, the root of our housing crisis stems from the fact that we are not building enough houses. With shared ownership we get more bang for our buck- we can just create more homes with the resources available because the customer is funding part of it. In days gone by, shared ownership would not have found favour amongst some local authorities because they wanted to concentrate their resources on those in the most perceived need. However, the sector has matured over the years and now acknowledges that the desire for home ownership in Britain is so strong, we cannot ignore that desire. Rightly or wrongly, like warm beer and cricket, homeownership is part of our DNA.

Local authorities all over the country are starting to embrace shared ownership as they move into development. One example of this is Cherries Court, Bournemouth. Although Bournemouth Borough Council restarted their development activity a few years ago, Cherries Court, completed in December 2017 was its first shared ownership development.  There were over 150 enquiries for the eleven 2 and 3 bed family homes, and they were all reserved off plan 10 weeks before practical completion. Most purchasers were moving in only one working day after practical completion. Gary Josey, Director of Housing and Communities at Bournemouth Borough Council, is in no doubt which direction Bournemouth will be moving:

“At Bournemouth, we need more housing of ALL tenures. Not only does it address a pressing need, but housing development stimulates the economy and ferments regeneration. With the overwhelming success of Cherries Court, shared ownership is certainly going to play an important part in our development programme as we move forward.”

So rather than shunning a tenure that has undoubtedly helped thousands to home ownership since the Birmingham initiative in 1975, now is a good time for local authorities to embrace shared ownership and include it in their development programs.

In fact, local authorities have an advantage over traditional housing associations when it comes to ensuring their shared ownership developments benefit their local communities. By developing outside a Registered Programme, local authorities can mandate that purchasers have a local connection. This is in contrast to housing associations where, since a ministerial announcement in 2016, it has not been permitted to insist on such conditions if the homes are being built as part of a Registered Programme, (which with very few exceptions, is the case). We will look at this in more detail later in this article.

Sales and Marketing of shared ownership is very different to allocating homes for social or affordable rent, but it is an essential element of modern development within the social sector. In this article, we will be looking at the full story of selling shared ownership, to demystify it for new entrant local authorities, and to outline where SDS can help local authorities embrace it as part of their development programme.

Read the other articles in the series

Selling shared ownership today in the local authority sector – Part 1

Shared ownership culture – Part 2

Shared ownership, begin with the end in mind – Part 3

Shared ownership, time to get underway – Part 4

Shared ownership, the marketing plan – Part 5

Shared ownership, brand and branding – Part 6

Shared ownership, the ultimate sales strategy – Part 7

Shared ownership mortgages and conveyancing – Part 8

Shared ownership, it’s not over when it’s over – Part 9

Did you know we are Commercial member of Community Housing Cymru?

Community Housing Cymru represents all housing associations in Wales and our members provide traditional as well as specialist social housing for around 10% of the Welsh population. 


CHC’s long term vision for Housing Associations in Wales ‘Housing Horizons’ aspires to a future where good housing is a basic right for all. With the target of 75,000 new homes by 2036 CHC has identified that it cannot do this alone. The vision highlights the need to work in partnership and collaboration if we are to ensure the aspirations of Housing Horizons are to be achieved.  

SDS has been a Commercial member of Community Housing Cymru (CHC) for almost 2 years. Throughout that time the relationship has developed and grown to ensure that CHC’s members are fully aware of the wide range of services SDS can provide.  

CHC is looking forward to continuing this relationship in 2019-2020 and working with SDS to meet the needs of the Social Housing sector in Wales.

SDS Sheila Carroll interview with Community Housing Cymru

SDS joins HACT the Data Standards

''HACT are thrilled to welcome SDS as Official Partners.''

SDS is helping numerous housing organisations have greater control and enjoy the benfits of digital transformation.

Andrew van Doorn - Chief Executive of HACT Tweet

“They are one of a number of software companies who are engaging with the UK Housing Data Standard and can see the evident benefits they bring to the social housing sector.”

“Our partnership with SDS is another way that data standards will become a reality for the UK housing sector, helping organisations to make informed decisions, avoid mistakes and meet audit and compliance guidelines. Those housing associations working with us on developing the standards are already benefitting from the partnerships we are developing with software specialists like SDS.”

“SDS are excited to be official partners of the HACT standard for our new software and eagerly await the data exchange and integration to other key housing systems it will bring,” said Rowley Maggs, Director of SDS. “Housing data is not where it should be. Housing providers across the country are struggling to truly benefit from the insights that the data they collect has the potential to offer. The HACT shared data standard is a solution to the current data chaos within the housing sector.”

“SDS help you maximise the development, sale and management of affordable homes. Our software is created by social housing experts who have been in your shoes. We want you to have greater control and visibility so you can make informed decisions and be the hero in your organisation.”

“Our robust software and in house experts are here to help you at every stage of the development, sale and asset management process. Including TAP certified trainers to make sure your teams use the software fully. Enjoy the benefits of digital transformation by avoiding mistakes, while meeting audit and compliance guidelines and software which integrates.”

SDS will be working alongside housing providers creating the Development Handover Data Standard sharing their expertise and experience in this space and helping to deliver a Standard that is industry relevant. There are still opportunities for software companies and housing associations to get involved in the development, implementation and promotion of the UK Housing Data Standards.

Putting Strategic Asset Management into Practice seminar 2018

Putting Strategic Asset Management into Practice seminar 2018

Shelton Development Services Ltd continued their series of sector focused, free CPD accredited seminars with the Active Asset Management Seminar in London on October 10th, 2018.  Asset and Finance professionals from Housing Associations and Local Authorities attended to hear from sector practitioners and network with their peers.

Mike Victory-Rowe, Asset Consultant with SDS, set the scene with an introduction into the importance of strategic asset management with the sector context, trends and challenges that asset professionals need to be aware of while delivering safe, secure and sustainable homes into the future.

Seminar sponsor Devonshire Solicitors’ topic was “Dealing with the runts in the litter”. Dan Moan, a Partner, shared the key points to bear in mind from a legal perspective when dealing with the commercial property as a social housing provider.

In a doubleheader session on Asset Management – a journey to the future, Jesse Meek & Laura Daniel gave attendees hands-on experience of leveraging the ever-changing technological landscape to innovate and improve business processes and how that can positively affect asset management. Cardboard virtual reality headsets coupled with an app on a mobile phone to show and train asset managers to spot issues in new build homes – tied up with some friendly competition encouraged team work on each table. After the tea and networking break, Jesse and Laura shared how Sovereign are using technology and collaboration to deliver innovation across the business, leading to improved delivery of value for money and increased investment across the Sovereign asset portfolio.  

Jonathan Walters, Deputy Director of Regulation at Regulator of Social Housing asked the audience to consider “Asset Management: What problem are you trying to solve?” given the policy context, Social Housing Green Paper and sector performance over the past 10 years.  Jonathan emphasised the function of the Regulator and emphasised the fact the Regulator does not dictate strategy but supports compliance, governance and good asset acumen, along with how the revised Value for Money standard enabled providers to focus on their strategic objectives, articulate their strategy to deliver homes and develop their approach to achieving value for money.

In the first session after lunch Thomas Fountain, Head of Asset Management at Clarion spoke on the development of The Clarion Standard for their existing portfolio of homes. The setting of the Clarion Standard gives a verifiable commitment to achieving Clarion’s corporate objectives and gave a basis for business planning, (de)investment decisions and driving (proactive asset management.  Thomas’ points included the effectiveness of asset valuation models when appraising existing stock and how resident engagement is an important factor to consider when developing an asset strategy.

Alex Rose, Director – Residential Real Estate Solutions at Hometrack presented on Unlocking Strategic Asset Management.  Alex showed the audience how Hometrack’s automated valuation model utilises data and harvests information points to provide a holistic view and understanding of property value.  He reviewed a few use cases including high-value asset disposals, rent review policies and tracking stock performance in the wider market context.

Nick Yandle, Policy Leader, from the National Housing Federation, spoke on Managing quality portfolios.  He covered the role of the Federation in the sector, explained the big issues and priorities as they see them and talked to involving and engaging with members. The NHF priorities include:

  1. Safety and compliance

  2. Quality of Homes

  3. Portfolio management

The SDS Asset team ended the day with Stock Profiler: Practical use of data in Active Asset Management. Rowley Maggs, Asset Director, led an entertaining roleplay with Mike Victory-Rowe.  They outlined the functionality and capabilities that the SDS Stock Profiler asset valuation model can offer housing associations to deliver quality homes, value for money and an active approach to asset management using internal and external data sets.


Thank you, everyone, who made the day such a success.  Please keep an eye on the SDS Events webpage for the latest SDS events