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I, like so many others I know in fire safety, involved in social housing and TMOs, were horrified to see those early news reports of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, that June day over three years ago. It was the worst UK residential fire since WWII. The Dame Judith Hackitt report effectively put the sector on notice, to focus on compliance, think out of the box and be open and transparent with residents.
Compliance is challenging and surprisingly I tend to see too much of Excel based records, although we have expensive Housing Management Systems on paper, with abilities to help tie all the strands together. You know the territory, FRAs (Fire Risk Assessments), Legionella, Asbestos, Gas Servicing, Lifts, Radon, Electrical and PAT testing. Ask yourself, how good are your records, the audit trail if heaven forbid a Grenfell scale disaster occurred in your schemes and stock?
Another really important dimension of all this is transparency and openness with residents (Tenants, Leaseholders, Factored and Shared Owners etc). Trust and openness with residents is I believe, an essential part of the effective solutions and the Hackitt report references sharing of info. If you are a landlord reading this, would you be comfortable sharing your compliance data with your residents? Would you be sharing a spreadsheet effectively, or a window on a system, or would you basically play the ‘We haven’t quite got the technology’ card
The latter excuse surprisingly does gain some traction from me however, as all that glitters out there, is not compliance gold. Compliance being a hot topic, I see no end of ‘products nearing release’, ‘nearly ready’ or well actually when I prod and probe, little more than a concept. Like me, you too need to push and want to see real customers, users etc, not beta testers. This is residents lives we are talking about here, lets not beat about the bush shall we?
Readers here may recall I have blogged about GasTag in the past, an excellent idea, finally joining the dots between right certified engineer with right equipment being serviced at the right asset. Back nearly 3 years ago when I wrote that blog, for me I could see the concept morphing far beyond just that, into all types of compliance. I should have put a £pony or a £ton on at Paddy Power, that a name change would be needed at GasTag, to encompass the greater capabilities of the platform.
A rename to ‘X-Tag’ properly encompasses what these guys are actually doing on their solution. X describes compliance perfectly, its about managing X, the universal unknown and making it known, internally and outward to residents. That is exactly what their platform is achieving for larger RSLs, like Housing plus Group and Southern Housing Group, implemented more in weeks than months (or years in some cases), as can be common from some of the traditional existing sector suppliers.
The X-Tag offering goes way beyond the notional management of compliance within a Housing Management System, which so very often is fragmented, lacks clear audit and detail, allowing continuous improvement and confidence in data, that could be and has facilities to share with residents. A key recommendation of Hackitt was the ‘engaged tenant’. If using this solution, an on-line portal sharing data ‘KnowMyHome’ is a by-product, not a separate solution in itself.
Embrace the X-tag, go check them out, at Housing2020 The Virtual Festival, September 7-11th ( https://cihhousing.com/virtual-festival ) or visit them at https://www.gastag.co.uk/
One of the real benefits of X-Tag to me is that its all data based and anyone who I have worked with will know my feeling is always that, reliable data is king. Opinions are great to express, that’s your right in a free country, but solid reliable data always trumps opinions, however loud you shout.
Integration is key and the new platform has good API links that can be utilised by your HMS, Asset Management Solution, such as Keystone, Promaster etc. Reporting is good, with dashboards directing managers to exceptions and areas for attention, as these are the common pain points aren’t they?
The solution is big on the control of ‘who’ carries out the compliance. Lets face it, excessive sub-contracting out was one of the main un-doings of what happened at Grenfell. Escalation paths can be deep and responsibilities blurred. X-Tag identifies who carried each compliance operation, evidencing issues arising. If your appointed contractor subs it out, that is clearly evidenced. It shines a light on what is checked, who checked it and was it done at the required/expected location.
I suggest you give it a look, see the volume of compliance already supported by the platform and its operational users. As mentioned earlier, there’s many ideas being pitched on roadmaps etc around this whole socialhousing compliance area. Be sure if you are going to take compliance seriously, you are looking at a proven and scalable product, you can implement quickly and reliably.
Related Post: Who should be fixing your data errors and maintaining data quality?
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Foo Fighters - X-Static.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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