Saturday, 16 February 2013

What a waste ....

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here uk.linkedin.com/pub/tony-smith-bsc-hons-acih/a/979/351/


A conversation with a director at one of my housing customers started me off thinking about this post. The track by that great Rock and Roll artist and lyricist Ian Dury “What a waste” came to mind and by gold vinyl copy of ‘New boots and panties’ up in my loft. Also the definition of waste used by Vanguard and John Seddon. Waste was easier to see in my first role as a technician apprentice in an electrical engineering manufacturer. Pallets of miss-sized components, wrongly wired assemblies and vacuum circuit breakers dispatched back to Kyoto as defective. It was very visible and obvious. 

Outside of manufacturing it’s less obvious but taking the time to look, you will see it. All around you. Waste also has a habit of multiplying in the service sector rather than anyone working quickly to nip it in the bud. In housing we are all broadly doing the same things with the same flows, while trying our best to absorb variety, from residents and needs.

Response repairs is one great area of low hanging fruit that can bring savings as well as improve the experience of residents and cutting waste. How often have you contacted your bank, telephone or insurance provider with the same issue or variations to it? Think of your time that was wasted, the frustration you felt and how it shaped the impression of the organisation you dealt with.

Residents feel the same when very similar issues are being constantly logged, like electricals keep tripping or repeated heating issues. How often in these cases do we hear from residents, “Well this is the n’th time I have contacted you about this.... Three response repairs will cost anywhere from about £450 upwards and at the end the resident is still not happy. The means of flagging up this type of thing when repairs are being logged is not rocket surgery.

Simplistic housing management systems can generally flag up if the same SOR (Schedule of Rate) item is selected. This is useful, although not too practical as the repeated fault is rarely exactly the same, (as anyone working in repairs diagnosis or job entry will tell you). System checks on repeated faults within the same SOR section or within the same attribute/component are more useful at the front line. For example, more than 2 calls within 8 weeks or of total aggregate value of over £400 might trigger an inspection or housing officer contact. Intelligent use of workflow or scripting can make this automatic. Rules can be set per trade, scheme, tenure type etc. The outcome then can be more satisfactory from the resident and finance viewpoint.

Looking at the flow of work logically it makes sense to tackle issues and attempt to solve problems as early as possible in the process. To shine a torch on specific areas decent reporting coupled with some imagination is essential. Out of the box reports if supplied at all rarely bring much imaginative thinking with them. Also, never expect them to match the variety faced by yourselves as an RSL. I.E. If your stock is rural, student short lets, include aspects of care, asylum seekers or predominantly elderly, different issues will arise. Reporting needs to be moulded to these variations pinpointing exceptions, which can be used to modify flow.

Examples are where cumulative thresholds are being breeched or repairs being repeated when actually under (response repair or original builders) warranty. In some organisations this can amount to 5-8% of the total repair budget. Identify more of these at the front line and the resident need for repair can be satisfied at zero cost. A small RSL I work with estimated that they could save approaching £200K if every occurrence like this was caught when logged.

Technology particularly workflow is the enabler for these savings and should be given the IT resource needed to put these triggers in to enable these savings and service improvements.


What a waste.


(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS If there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking,Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics,
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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Get The Message ...

"I always thought of you as my brick wall, built like an angel, six feet tall..."

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here uk.linkedin.com/pub/tony-smith-bsc-hons-acih/a/979/351/

I read with interest this week a couple of blogposts about social housing and where it sits within the public conscientiousness: http://jamesatbromford.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/keith-lemon-on-social-housing-whats-the-message/ and http://paulbromford.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/does-social-housing-need-to-find-a-richard-branson/

There are some great points made in both of those and no surprise they both originate from one of the UK’s most progressive landlords. Bromford in the English Midlands try hard to persuade staff to think outside the box to create great housing for their residents and spread the gospel of creating better customer service around the sector at large.

I am a great fan of BHG and have seen how they work first hand. However, they are just one housing group in a sector that does not appear to get its act totally together, in respect of explaining to the wider public ‘What we do” and “What we are for”. Most of the public have not been updated in what’s changed in the sector over the last 15 years.

There is still much ignorance for the wider public in terms of what the difference is between ‘Social Housing’, Private landlords and that old phrase “Council Housing”, which these days is pretty meaningless, as most housing actually left LA control decades ago. Try asking your non-housing mates when you are out socially and the general ignorance is clear. Most would be well into minus figures on Qi wouldn’t they!

In the current climate Jobs, Health and Housing should be the three main themes that affect the general public we see on the news and in general media. In the housing area we hear more of house prices and mortgage availability than the direct issues that affect social housing. That includes the success stories as well as the more obvious challenges like the bedroom tax and Universal Credit changes. Not enough success stories get out there on the mainstream news, Twitter and elsewhere.

The truth is that the responsibility lies with every RSL out there to always be finding opportunities to bang the drum for social housing and particularly where it is joined up with a number of peripheral charities and commercial organisations. Housing needs to be intrinsically plumbed in with health and jobs and the organisations involved with delivering those aims. The CIH should be more prominent in this area, consistently banging the drum even more intently for the sector. I would like to hear Grainia Long on the R4 Today program every single week and her face as familiar as Mark Prisk (who again is not that prominent either).   Grainia would be one of my nominations for our (non-bearded) Richard Branson plus a cabal of other housing heavyweights.

Cuddling up to government is no bad thing if there is the opportunity for policy to be given a reality check before it is released. We need a few more Paul Tennant’s with vision to promote social housing in parliamentary circles and have it considered as part of wider social policies to help job seekers, improve health and our neighbourhoods over all. This job won’t do itself, come on housing brothers and sisters lefts take the message to the people and our leaders, whatever leaning they may be. If we don’t, social housing probably deserves to be regarded as an afterthought.

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - uk.linkedin.com/pub/tony-smith-bsc-hons-acih/a/979/351/ It would be great to connect !

Read on, to greening our housing
http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.com/2013/12/jack-in-green.html


Electronic - Get The Message.


(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS If there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking,Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics,
CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS ,Asprey e-state pro, ECMK , Innovation Group Apex, Mr Void , MrVoid, In4Systems Promaster, CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Northgate Codeman, PIMMS Data Systems, datasystems , Template,COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context, MD , Director , Housing software, UK, United Kingdom,Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,Finance,Financial Systems,Getting best from,Grasp,Grip,hardware,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, HousingIT, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld,Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,management reporting,Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Neighbourhoods and Communities,Miracle Software, HouSys, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,Plus,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid, QL,QLX,Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC, NINTEX , NINTEX workflow , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits, Servitor,Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, Systemwise, Factorwise, Blockwise, Block wise, Task,Terminal Services,Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 , "07854 655009" , tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universe,Unrest,Van Stock,Voice and data,Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Xmbrace,XML

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Social Fools



If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here uk.linkedin.com/pub/tony-smith-bsc-hons-acih/a/979/351/

Many people who visit this blog tweet I know, many follow my ramblings on Twitter. Most people who have left a job or are looking to leave a job are on LinkedIn (if I receive a request to link I always wonder how close they might be to leaving...). Most of us have been pushed into Facebook by one route or other too. Quite often because friends or family members are on it and choose it instead of email.

It’s fair to ask yourself what SM (social media) is really for? Well, the graphic below just about sums it up:


How that relates to housing is a very diverse subject. We can look at it by following the way some organisations have used social media to relate and communicate to residents and share knowledge in what is one of the most challenging times we have been in for many decades.

Utilisation of any type of social media takes resources (people time) and some analysis of what is going to be achieved and how that might be measured. These days it seems that every HA or RSL seems to have a twitter account. Many are doing fantastic work by interacting with residents and customers, spreading useful information about the blizzard of changes coming down the line. Too often twitter can be left to IT or a young intern to manage (with disastrous results as HMV found when it crashed in Jan 2013 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/01/hmv_twitter_hijack/  ).

It is important to look at each follower you have and follow back if appropriate. Remember this is a network and if you only have 12 followers you are only at best going to reach 12 people or organisations with your messages. Real followers rather than who you follow can be more important. I have had this same issue with the community library in Grappenhall, Warrington, that I have been involved in as a director & board member.  (watch the video of what we have achieved at http://libraries.communityknowledgehub.org.uk/resource/grappenhall-community-library). On twitter, people will follow you if you add value and inform people about what is important to them.

In relation to my community library its similar issues to a housing organisation based in a tight geographical area. It is useful to find out who tweets locally. A great way of seeing this is through NearbyTweets ( http://nearbytweets.com/ ) and re-tweeting local info as well as following locals. Eventually, they will follow you. In the case of the library, teenagers now will eventually become parents that will use our facility, so the strategy slowly brings people to us. If you make it worthwhile, people will follow. Just tweeting ‘Hello morning everyone’ at 9.05 and ‘See you all tomorrow’ at 5.09 should be banned! Look for what is happening locally, road works, new properties you may be building, local news, tweet and re-tweet to increase your profile. So in essence, Twitter can be used to reach your customers, residents and catchment area. Remember though that Twitter only reaches a limited segment of your target audience. In the instance of the library, that is only possibly 20%. Be realistic about your penetration.

Other worthwhile tweet related software include Tweetdeck (great for timed tweets), Hootsuite, friend Or Follow and Contaxio.

The other big part about social media is to use it to network with your peers. LinkedIn and its groups offer an ideal method of doing this and making useful links in the process. This can done publically in groups or privately. While from the outside social media looks like a great means of telling people what kind of Krispy-creme doughnut you may be enjoying just now, the real value is in using it to ask questions. The search facility of Twitter can actually be more useful than Google. (Yes really). Try a search on something current like the ‘bedroom tax’ on Google and Twitter. Top hits on Google reveal news from channel 4, ITV, The Guardian and comments from the NHF.  On Twitter, a search reveals a bedroom tax petition, various blogs about it, a number of RSLs who are engaging residents about it and some with videos and other materials to tackle it. In the latter case a quick direct message (DM) can connect you straight to the people who put it together.

A few forward thinking organisations, such as Bromford Group encourage staff to break boundaries and use services such as Twitter just for that. Always be wary of where the twitter account might go in the future. Does the account belong to you or your employer? The name of the account might give you a clue. Also, the declaration that ‘Tweets are all my own (not my employers)’ may be needed to untangle personal from corporate. Often organisations do not actually understand what social media is for. This means that people can often easily fall foul of it, quite innocently.

LinkedIn groups can also be brilliant in connecting people and sharing knowledge. Join groups related to your area of interest. You are free to watch from afar or to engage as you feel. Either way it allows the potential to take advantage of others experience and share yours with others. Organisations need to understand that or ban employees from interacting in groups. It is doubtful however if organisations can ban employees from engaging in LinkedIn however. I am convinced that the benefits of it outweigh the downsides. Links within your area of expertise are of great benefit and also the means of spotting that new expert in housing just came from a sector nothing to do with it.

You can link with me on LinkedIn here - uk.linkedin.com/pub/tony-smith-bsc-hons-acih/a/979/351/ It would be great to connect !

Read on to, predicting the future:
http://tonysmiththathousingitguy.blogspot.com/2013/06/beautiful-future.html


Devo - Social Fools.


(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

PS If there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!

File Under: 360,1stTouch,4Js,Aareon,Academy,ActiveH,Alignment,ALMO,Anite,Apex,ArchHouse,Archouse,asbestos,Asprey e-state pro,Asset Management,Aurora,Average IT Costs,BO,BPR,Browser Applications,Business Objects,Business Process Review,Business social networking,Castle,CBL,Cedar Open Accounts,Change,Cheaper Housing IT,Chics,
CHR,Citrix,Civica,Clearview,CMS ,Asprey e-state pro, ECMK , Innovation Group Apex, Mr Void , MrVoid, In4Systems Promaster, CCS IT Keystone CCSIT, Northgate Codeman, PIMMS Data Systems, datasystems , Template,COA,Coactiva,Codeman,Comino,Competitive Dialogue process,complex IT procurements,Component Accounting,Consilium,Consolidation,Consultancy,Consultant,Contact Manager,Context, MD , Director , Housing software, UK, United Kingdom,Contractor Systems,CORE,CorVu,Cost Reductions,Covalent,CRM,Crystal Reports,CTI,CTX,Customer Relationship Management,Deeplake,Development Systems,Document Management,Documotive,ECMK,EDRMS,England, English,EnterpriseBI,ERP Systems,Finance,Financial Systems,Getting best from,Grasp,Grip,hardware,HG,Housemark survey,Housing Blueprint,Housing Group,Impact Response,implementations,In House,In4,Infoflow,Information Technology,Informix,inHouse,in-house workforce, HousingIT, Innovation,Inside Housing,Internet Portal,Invu,Ireland,Irish,IT Budget,IT Training,iWorld,Keylogic,Keystone,Kirona,Kypera,management reporting,Measuring Change,Mebus,Miracle,MISCS, mobile functionality,Monopoly board images and pictures, Montal,MS Dynamics,MS Dynamics CRM2011,Neighbourhoods and Communities,Miracle Software, HouSys, Northgate,Notice,NROSH,OA,OGC Buying Solutions,Ohms,OJEU Limits,OmFax,Omniledger,Open source software,open tender,OpenHousing,Opti-Time,Oracle,Orchard,Outsource and outsourcing,Paloma,performance management systems,PfH,Pick,PIMMS,pimms4communities,Planned maintenance,Plus,PM,Progress,Promaster,Proval,Pyramid, QL,QLX,Registered Providers,Registered Social Landlord,Rent Increase Freezes,Repairfinder,Reporting,Reports,ROCC, NINTEX , NINTEX workflow , Rocket,RPs,RSL,Saffron,SAP,Scots, Scottish,Scotland,SDM,sector,Server Virtualisation,servicing, Universalcredit, universal credit, universal credits, Servitor,Servitor,Sharepoint,Simdel,Simdell,Slash and Burn,Social Media,Software,SQL Open Housing,SQL Reporting Services,SQL reporting services,SQL Server,Star rating,Stores and Stock,Strategic Asset Management,Sunguard ,Surveys,Sx3,System alignment, Systemwise, Factorwise, Blockwise, Block wise, Task,Terminal Services,Three Star,Today,Total repairs,Tribal,Twitter,U2, 07854-655009 , 07854655009 , 07854 655009 , "07854 655009" , tonysmith , tonysmiththat , thathousing , thathousingIT , thathousingITguy ,UniClass Enterprise,Unidata,Universal Housing,Universe,Unrest,Van Stock,Voice and data,Wales,Welsh,Windows Server,Workflow and tasking,Xmbrace,XML