Analysing delivery effectiveness and expenditure around responsive repairs through best-practice performance reporting remains a largely unsolved challenge in the housing sector. Too many companies are blissfully unaware of their real expenditure in delivering services, their performance against basic tenant expectations, and the tenant covenant, and the potential saving for reinvestment they could achieve through best-practice performance reporting.
All too often, repairs analysis is simplified down to operational facts: ‘How many jobs do we have to do, and how many have we completed?’ or summarised as detail-free financial statistics: ‘What was our repairs budget for the year, and how does that compare to the end of year actual?’ These reporting outputs are typically manually-generated, expensive and error-prone static spreadsheet reports, rather than automated multi-dimensional and interactive outputs that let users drill through information hierarchies, conducting self-service root-cause analysis, or visualising trends over time.
Spotting the biggest cost drains
If we consider the basic business model of a housing provider – potential rental yield per property minus operating costs, long-term financing and expenditure in service provision – time and again we find that the biggest cost drains are overspending on responsive repairs and excessive voids.
As rental incomes are squeezed by the implementation of the Universal Credit, tenant incomes are reduced and traditional forms of financing become harder to secure, housing providers are being forced to improve their cost-to-service provision ratios and manage their cash flow better. When delivering responsive repair services, tenant satisfaction, contractual/regulatory obligations, asset provisions and the cost of service are being continually balanced. The ability to dynamically measure these by delivering better information to executives, managers and operatives will enable even housing providers who think they have the problem solved to find new ways of delivering better services at a lower cost.
A performance management solution which draws data from all of a company’s operational sources, such as housing management, finance, asset management and CRM/tenant satisfaction data, and automatically delivers it as information aligned to users’ roles through automated dashboards, alerts, detailed reports, mobile devices and ad-hoc query capabilities will allow any housing provider to increase tenant satisfaction while reducing expenditure and freeing up cash for reinvestment.
How big is the overspend?
Ask yourself a few quick questions:
- Can I measure my repairs costs against a particular budget and can I drill down to see whether individual jobs exceed the budget/SOR?
- Do I know the relationship between the time to deliver repairs vs. priority/tenant SLA, and tenant satisfaction? Am I overspending by over-servicing tenant expectations?
- Of our repairs assets, such as people, vehicles and tools, what are our utilisation rates?
- How many times have we undertaken a responsive repair when a major works refurbishment was scheduled (i.e. fixed a leaky sink when a new kitchen was due to be fitted a week later)?
Now ask yourself: ‘If that’s how many we know about, how many do we not know about because we don’t have the information?’ If you can see the tip of an iceberg floating above the water, how big is the body beneath the surface? If I anecdotally know of ten ‘priority 1’ jobs where I have made three or more visits to complete a repair which should have been fixed first time, and I know I have spent over three times my SOR to complete them, how many are there that I never hear about?
A thorough consultative scope and well-developed business case will help any company to understand the opportunity to reduce excessive expenditure through performance management. Of the housing providers we have worked with, every single one has found unwarranted overspend which can be eliminated. This has typically been between five per cent and 30 per cent; based on an annual spend of £25m, this overspend is between £1.25m and £7.5m.
What do we need to measure?
While every company’s terminology and business-driven measures will differ, there are some essential KPIs which remain common in measuring service delivery effectiveness. Examples of these include:
- Cost of repairs by priority vs. SOR/budget;
- Total repairs completed within SLA, by priority;
- Percentage of repairs completed first visit, by priority and contractor;
- Total repairs not completed first visit, by reason;
- Satisfaction vs. repair completed within SLA, by priority;
- Cost and tenant satisfaction with repair jobs, by contractor.
To find the underlying trends, a housing provider will therefore need to be able to analyse all of its KPIs across a number of dimensions including time, region, division, contractor, satisfaction, cost, repair type and maintenance type.
The components of a responsive repairs performance management solution
The most critical component of any performance management reporting solution is a thorough scoping exercise which assesses the full requirements at business, functional and technical levels. This will establish the composition of the solution:
- KPIs and measures by user requirements;
- Data sources required for reporting – typically covering housing management, finance, asset management and CRM/tenant satisfaction sources;
- How and where information should be stored for long-term analysis – data warehouse structure and design;
- Best-fit reporting toolset – e.g. SAP BusinessObjects, IBM Cognos or Oracle – and the tools required by user role, such as dashboards, reports, alerts, ad-hoc query capability, delivery and control of mobile devices and information for field based operatives;
- Training and support requirements – how to ensure solution adoption and on-going fitness for purpose;
- Delivery plan and anticipated returns – quantifying the benefits;
- Further opportunities to increase investment benefits – a scalable data warehouse and reporting toolset will enable future reporting capabilities, such as arrears and rental incomes, developments and voids, to be delivered with lower costs.
Implementing performance management for responsive repairs
Choosing to work with a delivery partner skilled in the use of key reporting tools and data warehouse design, and with long-term knowledge of social housing and responsive repairs services will ensure that any company maximises its investment and achieves better returns for reinvestment in properties, services and new developments. Working with a trusted partner to develop the solution scope, de-risk implementation and delivery, enhance adoption through training, ensure governance, sponsorship and change management will all enhance the information users receive and the decisions they make based on them.
Tom Hughes is responsible for business development & partnerships at Visualmetrics.