Plymouth Community Homes manages approximately 14,000 rented homes and 7,500 other assets, which it received as a transfer of stock from Plymouth City Council in 2009. It offers a range of other services including leasing commercial properties; an engineering and manufacturing business; and home ownership schemes. It has recently completed a major restructure of the organisation to prepare the business for the delivery of its new corporate plan.
Following transfer, the asset management system was focused on delivering decent homes components i.e. kitchens, bathroom and heating etc. Once this programme of work was completed, PCH decided to review the service to ensure it was fit for the future. The starting point was to review its asset management strategy and restructure of the asset management team. As part of this work, it needed to review both its use and the configuration of its asset management system; and the quality of the data used in the management of its assets.
Senior managers had identified that some of the key data used to support investment decisions was held in a variety of siloed locations. With the restructure then impending, senior managers were keen to ensure that as individuals left the organisation, the understanding of the data was not lost and access to it preserved.
Senior managers were also keen to ensure that decision-making was based on reliable data; within the restructured team, the managers created the role of Asset Data Manager, which at the start of the project was in recruitment, with the post holder being identified prior to completion of the work.
The approach to discovery was twofold. Firstly, workshops were held with key stakeholders to understand and map the data flows, in particular where business processes crossed different applications, or where data was held in silos, either on paper or on spreadsheets, beyond the reach of the asset management system. The workshops were followed up by individual meetings where colleagues were shadowed through key processes to ensure that all data sources had been correctly identified.
Secondly, an analysis of the data was carried out to understand the quality of the data, checking for completeness, consistency and accuracy. This review extended into a review of the data structures to ensure that data was easily accessible, in particular, that common queries could be answered with the construction of detailed reports. Existing standard reports were examined to ensure that they were correctly retrieving the desired data.
From the flows, 3C was able to identify the individual data stores and the data held in each, together with identification of the 'master' databases. For each piece of data, it was possible to understand how and where it came into the business, where it was held; and its usage. Enhancements to the data flows were identified, although in some cases it was necessary to implement sub-optimal data flows in order to ease business process; a degree of pragmatism being an essential element in projects of this nature.
Working with PCH colleagues, 3C were able to create a new data architecture, improving the flow of data through the business process and at the same time ensuring the quality of the data by minimising double handling of data and the use of data silos. This required the development of additional levels of integration between different elements of the data architecture and the relocation of data from silos into core applications.
The work identified a series of actions required to bring data quality and governance to a place where PCH could easily maintain the level of accuracy required for evidence based decision making including consideration of the extension of existing applications and databases; data cleansing; restructuring of data; identification of data owners; engagement with software suppliers and improving data access streams.
From this work, the Asset Data Manager was able to create a plan for the delivery of an enhanced data architecture. Much of this was dependent on completion of the implementation of the TotalMobile solution for works management and mobile working.
'3C Consultants helped us map data flow through our business processes; where the obstacles to access good quality information information were; and helped up to identify how we need data to be managed. They worked well with our colleagues and we were happy with their approach and the quality of their work. Their clear recommendations enabled us to plan the work required to ensure the quality of our data in the future, giving us certainty in decision making.'
Ian Frazer, Head of Repairs and Generation, Plymouth Community Homes