Earlier this year, IntoZetta contacted its software and services customers and organisations from the broader social housing sector, asking them to complete a survey regarding the use of data within housing providers. The first sets of results were published in the previous three editions of Housing Technology.
This final instalment looks at data ownership and governance, and also examines the ways in which data assets affect tenants’ experiences and key business processes, plus the respondents’ views on their biggest data challenges.
In my organisation, key data assets have owners who understand their data management responsibilities
41 per cent agreed that owners of key data assets understand their data management responsibilities and 32 per cent disagreed. This picture was summarised by one respondent who said, “Carrying out responsibilities and enthusiasm for data management varies considerably across the organisation.”
The key to improving standards of data governance and data ownership is to ensure that the relevant teams and individuals appreciate the value of data assets to their roles and responsibilities. If the connection can be made between high-quality data and improved operational performance, increased interest from data owners and improvements in data management are natural outcomes. After all, it is much easier to talk to the CFO about improving the ability to collect money than it is to discuss improving customer contact data.
My organisation understands how data affects tenant experience
77 per cent agreed that the connection between data and tenant experience was made by their organisation. It’s clear that the majority of housing providers understand that poor data quality can have a negative impact on tenant experience.
However, it’s also clear from talking to IntoZetta’s data consultants that understanding which data is impacting tenant experience is often less clear. With infinite resources, it might be possible to achieve close-to-perfect data across all systems and data entities but the reality of stretched data teams makes it more likely that data management and cleansing activities will need to be prioritised. Only by understanding which data matters most can finite resources provide ‘the biggest bang for their buck’.
My organisation understands how data fuels key business processes
64 per cent of all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their organisation understands how data fuels their key business processes. There’s a recognition that bad data can cause a business process to fail, causing additional costs, delays, and poor experience for tenants.
IntoZetta consultants spend considerable time helping to provide actionable detail to underpin the understanding of how good and bad data affects business processes. One IntoZetta colleague describes data as, “the fuel that helps or hinders every business process within an organisation.” Only by understanding which data causes specific processes to break, and the consequent cost and disruption, can you make the right choices and prioritise the management of key data items.
The biggest data challenge is…
Finally, we asked respondents to comment on the biggest data challenge faced by the sector. A cross section of responses is collated below:
- “Golden threads and the Building Safety Act.”
- “Getting a single source of truth in key data sets.”
- “Customer data quality is a huge challenge – it can become out-of-date very quickly.”
- “Hackers and IT security in general.”
- “Recruitment and retention of the right staff resources.”
- “Consistency across the organisation – multiple versions of the truth.”
- “Lack of focus on data governance and ownership.”
- “Understanding the importance of data quality and continuously monitoring issues at their sources.”
- “Lack of understanding around what drives meaningful insights – i.e. collecting too much data, with no plan for what it will be used for”
- “There is an often-misplaced assumption that information in a spreadsheet is right rather than testing its validity or accuracy.”
Data management in our sector is a rapidly-changing landscape. The data requirements of legislative compliance, and the need for improved efficiency and tenant experience, are leading many within our sector to address fundamental problems that have been overlooked for too long.
Data quality and, more broadly, data governance both now have the attention of housing providers’ senior leadership teams. Some have created data workstreams within large transformation programmes and system implementations. Others are taking a more gradual approach by selecting a trusted consultancy partner and software solution.
Overall, the key is to create meaningful measurement and reporting that will allow stakeholders to understand the fundamental data issues so they can be prioritised and resolved based on analysis and proven business benefits.
Housing providers face common challenges and many of these challenges are significant and hard to resolve. However, as a sector, housing shares best practice much more widely than any other sector in which IntoZetta consultants operate. In short, the answers to many of the data challenges that an individual housing provider might face will have already been found by their housing peers.
Dan Yarnold is a director of IntoZetta.