How the Housing Ombudsman’s KIM report reiterates the need for better data management

Social housing offers more than just affordability to tenants. It gives security, choice and stability: the opportunity to make a property a home, not just temporary accommodation.

The only way that Housing Associations can offer that safety and stability to tenants is if their properties are well maintained, they understand the people they are renting to, and they have a stable business model. Data is critical for housing providers to understand how well they are performing in all three areas, complying to sector regulations and illustrating that compliance to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH).

Earlier this year, the Housing Ombudsman published a report on Knowledge and Information Management (KIM). It reported on the routine lack of knowledge and data management that can be seen across the industry.

The shortcomings of information management is causing “daily detriment to residents, eroding their trust, and damaging the sector’s reputation”. The report also looks at the way information is recorded, stored, and managed by registered providers of social housing, and how that information can empower staff and equip landlords with the knowledge they need to better maintain and improve their services.

We've picked out 6 key data-related recommendations (from the 21 overall) that highlight the importance of good data management by improving data, knowledge, and information management and, ultimately, improving the experience you offer to tenants.

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🏠 1. Define the role of governance to enable better knowledge and information management

Part of your data strategy should be building a strong data governance framework. You need accurate knowledge of your tenant data, property data, maintenance and security data, financial data (the list goes on...) and need to be able to use that data to inform business and financial planning. Without proper governance, that’s a tall ask.

🏠 2. Implement a knowledge and information management strategy

Having a data strategy is a cornerstone of Knowledge and Information Management. You need to understand the exact capabilities to establish in order to protect your tenants, maintain your properties, make good investments and keep regulators informed. Your strategy will outline how your current data capabilities empower you to deliver the ‘big picture’, whether that’s people, process or technology.

🏠 3. Review internal guidance around recording vulnerabilities

As a socially responsible organisation, understanding the people you serve is critical to offering them the services and experience they need. This is why it’s important that vulnerabilities, whether temporary or permanent are recognised, recorded, and then removed from records once no longer appropriate.

🏠 4. Develop organisational key data recording standard requirements

To establish and maintain good data that supports the business and demonstrates compliance with national standards, requirements need to be set and adhered to across the business.

🏠 5. Review existing databases for capability and capacity to record those key data requirements

It’s essential for any housing association to ensure databases are capable of adequately capturing information about residents, such as their vulnerabilities, and homes, such as maintenance records.

🏠 6. Ensure databases are easy to interrogate, and that the data can be extracted and used

Without the ability to interact with your data, it's like having a treasure chest without a key. For data to be valuable, it must be more than just collected; it needs to be efficiently structured, analysed and used in ways that align with organisational goals and strategies. Otherwise, it's merely a waste of storage space, unable to fulfil its potential for evidence-based practice and informed decision-making.

We asked Guy Bradshaw, Consulting Director at Amplifi, his initial thoughts upon reading the Housing Ombudsman’s recommendations.

It’s well established that good data management is essential for regulatory compliance. As a housing association, if you haven’t established ‘clear ownership and accountability’, ‘a well understood business glossary’, ‘data quality measures that are tracked and acted upon’, ‘relevant and timely MI, BI, reporting and analytics’ and ‘appropriate technology that supports data management’ then you will fail to operate as an efficient organisation.

The Housing Ombudsman’s report highlights that good data management and compliance are simply two sides of the same coin - get it right and you’ve solved both problems and will reap the benefits as an organisation.”

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Our work with Richmond Housing Partnership

Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP), a housing association and registered charity in West London, which is responsible for over 10,000 shared ownership and social housing properties.

RHP recognised that, if they wanted to foster better connections with their tenants, they needed to develop a deeper understanding of their customers - who they are, what their needs are, and what’s required to be proud of their home.

Juggling over 900 data sources and heavily dependent on spreadsheets, it was clear to RHP they needed to understand their data maturity, the quality of their data and how best to govern it.

Amplifi is supporting RHP in its mission to put their tenants at the heart of everything they do, by improving how they manage, handle, and maintain their data.

You can read more in the full RHP case study here, where you’ll hear from Corinna Bishopp, Executive Director of Finance at RHP and a driving figure in RHP’s digital transformation.

The Housing Ombudsman has created an in-depth report that raises multifaceted issues, but better data management can play a big role in achieving the recommendations. With good data, you have the power to streamline your processes, deliver on your commitments to those diverse stakeholders, be enabled at every level by accurate, timely and trusted information – and most crucially, improve the experience of the tenants you serve.

We’ve written a guide, Housing Associations: a guide to data, where we outline the six basic steps you need to transform the way you use data, from strategy to culture and everything in between. You can download it below or get in touch today to speak with one of our data experts about your organisation’s data.

Download - Housing Associations: A Guide to Data

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