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Tenant MDM: understanding your tenants and your housing stock with data 

How to get your hands on a ‘golden record’ to gain a clearer understanding of your properties and the people who live in them.

Housing associations are rolling in data. Tenant data. Property data. Maintenance and security data. Financial data. Complaints data. It’s an ocean of information that should enable associations to see both the ‘big picture’ of their organisation, and keep track of the small details that help them to protect their tenants, maintain their properties, make good investments and keep regulators informed.

Yet more often than not, it doesn’t. Just because the data has been collected, it doesn’t mean it’s available, timely or even accurate. Data siloes, legacy technology, poor data literacy and conflicting data agendas across housing associations are preventing data from being used the way that it should, and it has the potential to cause serious damage to associations’ operations, efficiency and reputation.

In Housing Associations: A Guide to Data, we outline what associations need to do to get their data where it needs to be. In the meantime, we delve into why good data management – and the ‘golden record’ it creates – are so important.

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The high cost of bad data

For housing associations, poor data quality and data management can be more than an inconvenience. With hundreds, if not thousands, of tenants and residences in their records, data is critical for housing associations to keep track of their tenants’ safety and experience, and the condition of their properties.

It’s not just the quality of the data that is important: it’s how that data is communicated across departments. A data record in isolation – say, a single tenant complaint about a damp issue – tells a very different story from data records collected and shared across multiple touchpoints. That single complaint, for instance, could be a symptom of a much bigger property or departmental issue, and if the right data is available to everyone, these problems can be spotted and solved quickly.

If it isn’t, they can escalate dramatically, impacting tenant satisfaction and, ultimately, the association as a whole.

Take Brent Council’s decision to shut down its ALMO, Brent Housing Partnership, in 2017 after tenant satisfaction dropped to 56% due to service failures. Or the recent high-profile disaster for one of the UK’s largest housing associations, which was publicly criticised for failing to deal with widespread tenant complaints including serious cases of damp, mould and pest infestations.

Then there are even more serious issues, such as tenant safeguarding, which saw one association come under fire earlier this year after a tenant’s death went unnoticed for two and half years.

Whether or not these cases are directly linked to data, what is certain is that robust data management can play a crucial role in ensuring that the right people can access the right information to prevent situations like these from happening again.

Reaping the rewards of good data

Effective data management isn’t just about preventing disasters – it’s also about improving the way housing associations operate to bring benefits to the organisation. By providing a clearer understanding of tenants and properties, good data can help associations offer a better experience to tenants, react quickly to property concerns, make strategic investments or even reduce maintenance costs with predictive analytics. As a result, they can improve their desirability to tenants and, subsequently, to investors.

Good data management also makes it much easier to report information to NROSH+ and have full confidence that the data is accurate, up to date and compliant with the Regulator for Social Housing’s expectations without relying on excessive manual input and review from teams throughout the organisation.

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Achieving a ‘golden record’

At the heart of good data management is the ‘golden record’: a centralised source of data that ensures that information is accurate and available to everyone who needs it. Getting your hands on a golden record takes work. It can’t exist if there are data siloes hoarding information in spreadsheets or programs in specific departments (or worse, personal laptops – potentially a serious criminal offence, but we won’t delve into that here). It won’t be accessible if legacy technology is disrupting data flows. It won’t be accurate if data quality hasn’t been assessed and defined. And it can’t remain correct and up to date if the organisation doesn’t have a data governance framework to keep everyone ‘on book’ when it comes to engaging with that data.

At Amplifi, we’ve helped housing associations to achieve their ‘golden record’ and tackle their data challenges. In Housing Associations: A Guide to Data, we outline the six basic things you need to achieve a golden record for your organisation, from strategy to culture and everything in between - you can download it below.

Download - Housing Associations: A Guide to Data

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