With sector-wide shifts in the way housing providers manage risk, integrated and innovative technology will be vital in helping them to adapt to new demands, keep track of data and prevent duplication or errors.
For large-scale projects, organisations can struggle to manage large quantities of data. A surprising number of organisations are still reliant on spreadsheets, some of which can contain over 40,000 actions to manage. Unsurprisingly, these spreadsheets can become corrupt, making the information they contain unreliable.
These out-dated processes can also mean that a huge amount of the information provided by risk assessments is lost due to the limited functionality of housing providers’ existing systems. Social housing has always been slow to embrace and support new technologies, yet what is really needed is a reliable way of managing large quantities of information so that there is a clear digital audit trail that can evidence what work has been completed and what is outstanding. If actions haven’t been completed from a previous assessment, a second action could be raised on a subsequent assessment. Without a clear system to consolidate these into a single action, work can easily be missed, delayed or duplicated.
One of the recommendations of the Hackitt Review is the creation of a Joint Competent Authority (JCA) tasked with overseeing building safety in residential buildings. Regular case safety reports would be submitted to the JCA by the relevant duty holder and would require comprehensive information on the evolution of the building since its construction as well as information about the construction itself.
This evolution of buildings is particularly important with older housing stock. A building built in the 1960s might have had a new alarm system or gas heating fitted in the subsequent decades (both factors that are very relevant when considering risk), but all of that information could be lost if there isn’t a robust system to record all of the data electronically.
With many organisations already struggling to manage their information assets, there is a clear need for an easy-to-use system that can not only keep track of their health and safety compliance checks, but can also collate the necessary information to provide these safety case reviews to the JCA quickly.
Another crucial step is linking the two main systems that most housing providers have, one that manages tenants and the other that manages the buildings themselves. Without a modern, effective solution, larger portfolios are almost impossible to manage, which leaves organisations without a clear idea of the properties they manage. As developments or demolitions occur, those tenant and asset lists can quickly get out of sync and what you’re left with is two property lists that don’t reconcile. However, with the right software, reports can be run against housing portfolios to detect and resolve any anomalies.
The demand for an effective, user-friendly solution to large-scale portfolio management is not going away. It is now up to key stakeholders and industry leaders to modernise and embrace technological innovations to ensure that they have the systems in place to reduce risk to the lowest possible levels.
Sarah Herbison is the CEO of Riskhub.