Performance management has received a lot of attention in the housing sector over the past few years, and rightly so. If housing providers are to improve front-line services and make cost savings, they must have a true understanding of how the business is performing, not just high-level percentages and generalised data.
The last year or so has seen housing providers making choices about which tools will help drive this process. Historically, it has only been larger organisations that consider software tools, but smaller organisations are also beginning to realise the potential benefits as they increasingly dedicate significant time and resource to collating data and discussing how to use it.
But there is a danger here that senior management will blindly acquire a software system believing that it alone can make a difference to performance management. In reality, the software solution is only part of a bigger set of considerations, including quality of data and how staff record it, to the ongoing training requirements of those staff.
For any performance management process to achieve true value, the first step must for be senior management to discuss expectations and their understanding of the current business, its strengths and weaknesses, and what information is required. This process should result in a set of objectives which will act as a platform for the project. When considering the different software options available, it is important to keep an open mind. Question which solution is best fit for the culture of the organisation in terms of work flow and process, and look beyond the sales product demonstration.
Once this system is in place, housing providers will then be presented with an expansive display of relevant data – so what next? Seeking the advice of a consultant with experience in implementing change management strategies will help any housing provider apply data in the most pertinent fashion. For instance, by implementing quick wins which will improve staff morale – and subsequently the service received by tenants – the entire employee base will buy into the programme and become more responsive to the more long-term changes the consultant proposes.
This combination of clear objectives, prudent procurement of software tools, and the employment of a knowledgeable consultant is most certainly the approach to performance management which will gain the right result – improved delivery of services and real cost savings.
Jacqui Stoggall is head of housing & public sector consultancy at Sovereign Business Integration.