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A single version of the truth at Festival Housing 

Festival Housing provides affordable homes to people across the counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

They manage approximately 10,000 homes and also run a subsidiary repairs and maintenance business – Festival Property Care. They have a reputation for good quality homes, excellent support services and communities where people are proud to live.

Festival’s vision is to build successful communities and do this by committing to provide first class services for all of its customers and by working with their tenants to improve the quality of life in and around their local neighbourhoods.

Festival are based in Worcestershire with offices in Malvern and Droitwich, employing some 403 full time equivalent (FTE) staff.

Background to the problem

Festival deployed Clearview strategy and performance suite version 1 in 2005. They subsequently upgraded to version 2 in 2009 and have been using this version since.

After upgrading to version 2, they decided to take advantage of the flexibility afforded by Clearview’s performance scorecard module for business performance reporting to revolutionise the sourcing of data from across the business to support their ever expanding business information needs.

Lee Parkes, Head of Performance improvement, comments:

“Back in 2009, we lacked confidence that the data being reported was accurate. There were issues surrounding a common understanding of the business rules being adopted when sourcing information and a lot of (some might say too much) knowledge in the heads of a few staff. There was a ‘cottage industry’ culture servicing the information needs of the business. We also knew this was just the beginning, the information demands on the business were constantly under review and it was taking too long to service (if at all) new requests for information. We needed to make a change and the new functionality of the Clearview performance scorecard version 2, afforded an opportunity to implement a new way of working.”

Performance scorecard version 2, included some key features that Festival identified as key to supporting their requirements.

  • Automation service to feed data directly into the system without manual intervention;

  • The ability to categorise KPIs in multiple ways to enable low level analysis of data and “root cause” problems quickly;

  • Support a library of performance indicators that can be easily combined to build scorecards for different stakeholders; and

  • Universal access to the software via a web-browser such that the entire organisation could gain access to the information without incurring incremental licence charges.

Lee continues,

“The opportunity was there to build a “single version of the truth”, a definitive information resource that everyone in the organisation could buy into and use to drive efficiencies. We could reduce the risks associated with sourcing accurate information and dependencies on key resources.”

The approach

A project was commissioned with the following aims:

  • Build a library of KPIs with clearly defined and documented business rules as to how they were to be calculated, categorised and the data required sourced;

  • Automate as much as possible of the capture of information to support these KPIs;

  • Provide tailored scorecards for stakeholders throughout the organisation that provide meaningful views of information to support their job functions; and

  • Reduce the effort required to provide performance information every month.

Robert Blatchford, BI Consultant, who was given the role of delivering the outputs for the project, comments:

“We identified 71 KPIs of specific interest and for each one set about delivering:

1) a documented definition and business rules for how to calculate

2) details as to where the data was held and how we would extract it

3) a Microsoft SQL Integration Services package to get the data out

The majority of the time was spent defining the KPIs and business rules. We started with a high level definition and list of categories and then met with stakeholders to fine tune the definitions. When defined, we established clear ownership and responsibility for each KPI.”

The results

Robert is proud of what has been achieved. He says:

“We run a job on working day 6 of the new reporting month and within an hour we have our scorecards populated. The speed by which we do this allows us to test and focus on addressing anomalies in the data rather than gathering the data and building reports. We process 21 million rows of data to feed 10,000 records automatically into Clearview to populate the 71 KPIs and their  categories. This saves us 10.5 man days of effort every month.”

But there were many more benefits that Lee Parkes was keen to draw attention to:

“We now have a clearly defined and documented set of KPIs that are used throughout the organisation to root cause problems every day. The ability to analyse by category allows for a rounded perspective and analysis on each KPI. People no longer ask to have data amended in the reports as the source system is right, it makes them do a better job and they now keep the source systems up to date. Because its so easy to populate Clearview, we can run the capture routines again to pick up data lagging because of processes, for example previous months sickness records and historical repairs that were lagging behind being recorded.

A beneficial side effect is that we now have a data mart of really useful and accurate information. This is helping provide a more holistic interpretation of performance information hitherto hidden from view.

Our thinking and maturity as information consumers has moved on. We started with performance data for the Board and Senior Management team. Now everyone has access and I see examples every day of efficiencies arising. A junior member of staff recently highlighted that the phone system was reporting her extension incorrectly, she felt her performance was not being correctly portrayed and wanted it corrected. This was fantastic to hear, as we now have people throughout the organisation engaging with the data and monitoring it to track not only their own performance but also that of their teams and the organisation, which in turn supports improvement and efficiency initiatives by providing insight to those who can make best use of it.”

The future

Festival Housing are not an organisation to rest on their laurels. They are already looking ahead as to new ways they can improve processes and enhance their staff’s experience of the information resource they have built. Lee continues,

“Clearview performance scorecard has been invaluable in providing the means to present performance data in a structured and meaningful way to all our stake holders. We are now looking at how we exploit the information further and business intelligence is a logical next step. We have a variety of reporting solutions in place across the organisation and the ability to use a single easy to use tool to address our reporting and data analytics needs is of particular interest to us.”

In closing we asked for a comment from Guy Weston, Festival Housing, Chief Executive who says:

“We have used the entire Clearview Strategy and performance suite from the outset. The benefits to our organisation have been significant and the recent project to automate the production of our performance scorecards has enhanced both the intangible and tangible benefits we derive from the system. Clearview is a system we cannot imagine being without.”