IT Trends

John Stuttard, RSM Robson Rhodes


Every two years we undertake a national survey into the use of IT by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). Surveys were conducted in 1996, 1998 and 2000. Our aim is to:

For this years survey we have collected the data using the principles of e-commerce (i.e. electronic communication links). We set up an Internet web site and invited 430 RSLs, using e-mail, to access the site to complete the questionnaire. 130 RSLs responded to the questionnaire. We sent an electronic copy of the questionnaire with the e-mail just in case RSLs could not access the web site. Two thirds of responses accessed the web site direct and the rest sent their completed questionnaire by e-mail or as a paper copy. From this process we have learnt many lessons about using e-commerce principles. After all, how can you conduct an IT survey today and not use the Internet?


Since 1996 we have observed the following trends:

We are unable to compare the IT staffing levels as this year's questionnaire was not consistently answered. From the 1998 survey we collected IT staff levels and in 2000 the most reliable information is the IT staff budget. The following table attempts to show the staffing level comparisons, assuming that, on average, one staff member costs £25,000 to employ.

RSL Size
Average IT Staff numbers
2000 IT Staff Budget
2000 IT Staff
Numbers Estimate
Up to 499 units 0 0 0
500 - 2,499 units 1 32,091 1.25
2,500 - 4,999 units 2 76,876 3
5,000 - 9,999 units 4.26 102,670 4
10,000 + units 10 240,833 9.6

Also we cannot undertake proper IT cost comparisons over the three surveys as, for this year's survey, we have collected actual figures, rather than ticking a range and attempted to ascertain the true cost of IT including data communications and depreciation.

The table below shows the total costs expressed against three indicators:

RSL size
% turnover
Per unit under management
Per installed PC
Up to 499 units 4.62% 262.8 2,623
500 - 2,499 units 5.24% 158.5 4,846
2,500 - 4,999 units 4.26% 130.0 5,411
5,000 - 9,999 units 4.95% 116.9 5,082
10,000 + units 4.69% 112.5 4,771

A question we are often asked is: how do RSLs compare to other business sectors? Comparing our survey result with data provided by the National Computer Centre's members survey shows that shows that RSLs are under-investing in comparison to other sectors. In terms of IT expenditure per employee, the comparisons are:

Number of employees
Average total spend per employee
Average non-development spend per employee
NCC survey
Under 100
100 to 499
500 to 999
1000 to 4,999
0 to 499 units: average 17 staff
500 to 2,499 units: average 37 staff
2,500 to 4,999 units: average 97 staff
5,000 to 9,999 units: average 159 staff
10,000 + units: average 367 staff



There have been significant changes in the use of IT by RSLs since 1996. However, the investment in IT is not as much compared to other sectors and RSLs are slow at introducing new technology. I wonder what the year 2002 survey will show? Perhaps we should do a bit of crystal ball gazing, put our thoughts into a sealed envelope then see who is the closest when the survey is conducted again in 2002.

A copy of the survey report is available on this web-site to download or view here. Please contact John Stuttard on 01132 254192 or e-mail if you want to discuss the survey further.