Many consider leadership to be the management of change and the social housing sector is certainly undergoing rapid change.
So how should business leaders navigate and guide their organisation through this change process? A major survey of senior executives in late 2016 revealed that, for most, digitisation was the key, moving services online so that customers could self-serve at a time and place that suited them.
However, technology alone is only part of the solution and those who are successfully reaping the benefits of digitisation have recognised that the toolkit needed to transform to a new business model has five pillars to success: business design; people and culture; process re-engineering; customers; and, of course, technology.
What will your new business model look like? Seek guidance and support from those who have already been on similar journeys in order to understand what is achievable and what challenges you will need to overcome. You will then be ready to create a vision of what the future will look like.
Understand exactly where you are now, and benchmark your current position so that you can highlight and publicise what you achieve.
Once you have an understanding of where your starting point is, along with the vision of your future operating model, you can create your transformation roadmap with specific, achievable and time-tabled milestones along the way.
As good governance is key, the strategic and operational management of the new business model should be ‘data-led’, with business intelligence (BI) being a key component of both demonstrating great leadership and supporting the introduction of digital customer services, quantifying success.
A key component to achieving success is the ‘first-time fix’ KPI. Get your data and processes right and 90 per cent of customer transactions should be able to be resolved on first contact. First-time fix is an ‘umbrella KPI’ insofar as if you get this right, other KPIs such as those measuring efficiency and cost control, along with customer and staff satisfaction, should also be good.
People and culture
The achievement of cultural change at all levels of your business is likely to be your greatest challenge, but carried out correctly it will often reward you with early wins as the process will often result in initiatives that will address fundamental, but simply and swiftly resolved issues.
The transformation process should be consultative, drawing in those who will help you in delivering change.
The transformation process also provides the opportunity to mentor, develop and empower staff, who will adapt and help identify and introduce ever-better business solutions, recognising when additional training and resource is required or when existing resource can be liberated to address important tasks.
As progress is made, celebrate achievements and recognise those involved; recognition can be a powerful motivator, both to those who receive it and those who desire it.
Online services must be automated and processes should be effortless, allowing the majority of tasks to be easily carried out by customers without the need for staff involvement, so liberating them for other valuable tasks required within the new business model.
There should be no departmental silos; workflows need to span departments, appearing seamless to those involved. Processes should also be ‘agile’ and able to quickly adapt to meet the needs of the business. Should your business consider a merger, then flexible, effortless processes will ensure your organisation is ready to set the example, or potentially demonstrate that your business can survive effectively on its own.
We all strive to provide ever-better customer service and customers are also becoming more demanding, wanting to deal with you at a time and place that suits them. Digitisation addresses these challenges, with online services providing both the business and its customers with the answers they seek, swiftly and accurately with the minimum of inconvenience. Those that are pioneering digitisations within the sector believe that for most it will be possible for 80 per cent of transactions to be automated and carried out online by customers within a three-year period.
Technology is the key enabler, the foundation stone on which efficient business process and security can be built. Your technology solutions must be integrated and seamless, supported by accurate, available and secure data that flows between software applications; there should be no software silos.
Technology should leverage the best from the cloud, delegating responsibility for certain components of IT to specialists, such as business continuity and disaster recovery. This again liberates staff to focus on other important tasks within the new operating model, such as ensuring there are no missed revenue opportunities; developing new income streams and assisting those tenants that are struggling with financial and digital support.
Carefully leverage the best from social media and video as increasingly this is becoming the method of choice for communicating and getting swift responses from customers, groups and communities.
This is just a brief summary, but using this toolkit will not only allow you to achieve a more efficient and effective business model, but it will support leadership throughout your organisation.
Your business will become increasingly secure; your staff will be developed, liberated and empowered; your customer service will rival those that are considered the best; you will be able to demonstrate good governance; your customers will be supported to draw from the enormous advantages the internet can provide; and, importantly, your job will become easier and more rewarding.
Colin Sales is managing director of 3C Consultants.