Saturday, 1 July 2017

My Mistakes Were Made For You

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @HousingITguy
or LinkedIn here

Do you make mistakes?

It’s a bit of a trick question in a way, as being human, we are fallible and mistakes are actually something we all do. How we manage or learn from them is really the key. Best selling authors have made fortunes writing and creating methodologies around that whole concept

Putting our mistakes aside for a moment, focus now on ones that create problems in organisational data. So often detail data brings down a lot of KPI’s and returns. Slow or missing repair order updates can distort performance. Poor void processes can exaggerate the cost of empty properties and boost average void days. A key SocialHousing KPI yardstick. I am sure you and fellow colleagues may know of many more local ‘hobby-horses’.

I was involved in a session with a group looking at better KPI’s and summary reporting quite recently. Not surprisingly some of those very problems came up.

If you were in a ‘Reporting’ or ‘Performance & Quality’ team, the first reaction I am sure, is to ‘fix the data’. I mean, who would want to report an average void turnaround of 14.5 days, when you knew sensibly that it was nearer ten days? That is what in many places, actually happens.

Bad data is filtered out, often users are chased to sort the data, so another cut can be taken. Your KPI team get there in the end. In many situations, the KPI team ‘fix’ the data, so the results look more like reality, or at least somewhat better.

In my world, I am unsure that is really the best strategy.

Like a teenager, who has his room tidied by their mother, rather than taking pride in it themselves, the problem gets moved upward. If your data is massaged by your KPI team, those users will never understand the value of getting data right, in a timely manner. The only way our staff will understand the value of data and getting it accurate, as much as possible, is that their own problems/errors are passed back to them to correct every time. Of course, after they have been educated in why getting it right is so crucial. 

A good example I saw a few months ago is poor data recorded when signing up and starting tenancies. Taking the default DOB (‘date of birth’ to you none hipsters..), as todays date in many (un-helpful) systems, to apply to the tenant (or joint tenant), causes all kinds of issues. Also setting the wrong member of the household, as the key contact. I have seen DLO staff, looking for primary school children to sign jobs off, on the doorstep. Wrong on too many levels to list here.

Can you guess how the above problem was solved?

Well, rather than the performance team defaulting ages to 18 if under, consider for a moment that legally, none of our tenants should be under 18, the fixes were pushed to the staff that got them wrong. If they had some to address, they got them daily by email, and it was explained to them why they received this stuff. The inference was that if you get it right first time, you will not be clearing it up later.

The truth to be communicated is that we are paid to be responsible, accurate and record stuff that all our colleagues will find useful and in many cases essential. That’s what we are all paid for, people. If that all goes into coherent systems, then maybe the KPI folk can just take a data cut on the 5th of the month, every month and that will reflect where our organisation is actually at.

Getting data correct is more a cultural than an ICT challenge. If you think I can help you with that challenge, please be in touch.  

Related Post: Should your projects be a race or a marathon? 


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

The Last Shadow Puppets - My Mistakes Were Made For YouThe Last Shadow Puppets - My Mistakes Were Made For You.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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