A recent report from Tribal Consulting has stressed the importance for social housing organisations to adopt good programme management systems to manage the work required to meet the requirements of the Government’s Decent Homes initiative.
The ‘Current approaches to managing housing improvement programmes’ report produced by Tribal on behalf of Delcam PS-Team looks at what systems need to be in place once a housing improvement programme has been approved, at which point the value of robust programme management systems start to be realised.
The report identified a number of key requirements for the effective management of improvement programmes. These include the creation of a single information source for the programme, covering finance, timelines and quality, which must be accurate, auditable and reflect the current state of work. The information source should be accessible to a range of stakeholders in the programme, including contractors and tenants, and provide easy and fast performance reporting capabilities. While the information source would be derived from both structured data (databases and spreadsheets) and unstructured data (documents and scanned images), it would need to integrate with other applications such as finance and housing management systems. The final requirement was a clear high-level vision allied to good ‘on the ground’ processes.
However, the present reality is different. Tribal’s report showed that most housing organisations have several information sources (usually in applications more suited to contract management than programme management) which contain data on different parts of their improvement programmes, leading to significant inefficiencies, re-keying of data between applications, difficulties in sharing information with contractors, and a lack of audit trails. Furthermore, producing meaningful KPIs from these disparate sources is difficult, to the point where almost a quarter of respondents simply had no reporting systems.
The report concludes, “If having good systems to manage a housing improvement programme is a 100 metres race, where are you in that race? 80 metres, 50 metres, 20 metres from the start? In reality, most social housing organisations have nearly 90 metres to go. Ask yourself – if I had a blank sheet of paper and designed from scratch how to manage a housing improvement programme, would it be the same as what we are doing now?”