14 Mar 2022
Its arguable that asset management has never been trickier. As a sector we are facing some of the biggest challenges of our time, be that the need to invest more in our existing homes, improving the balance between planned and responsive repairs, delivering value for money, and understanding and making long term decisions around delivering the sustainability agenda. Underpinning this the constraint of an immature and insufficient supply chain and a lack of skilled labour.
So how do we best achieve this, what do we prioritise and how do we ensure our residents are living in safe, warm, dry, and modern homes? How do we restore the trust of our residents?
Most of us have the foundations in place to create a strategy that will deliver on all the above, but for me it starts with understanding the problem in more detail. What does your portfolio look like, what type of homes do you have, which are the most problematic, valuable costly?
I cannot stress enough that getting the data right to enable good decision making is critical to any good asset management plan; without this good money will be thrown after bad homes. Reliable data can be used to make a raft of strategic and operational decisions, as large-scale as how much money must we spend between now and 2050 to achieve net-carbon zero, down to does a specific home have a working smoke alarm.
Despite the squeeze on our margins, I don’t believe that now is the time to curb investment in technology, especially tech that will support good data management. I think it’s safe to say that the ability to understand our homes accurately and in detail and to be able to share that data in real time with our residents, providing complete transparency, will soon become mandatory.
We can no longer continue to improve and grow in isolation as stand-alone businesses. Aside from the obvious benefits of collaboration, the government is pushing policy in that direction (check out the national digital twin programme). I don’t believe we can solve the supply-chain issue on our own and we will need to work together to develop sustainable solutions that deliver our goals for our residents and our stakeholders.
Servicing, retrofitting, improving, and maintaining homes is becoming an increasingly difficult, risky and expensive task... but by accepting the challenges head-on, establishing a quality strategy based on reliable data, continuing to invest in digital, and working together – I believe anything is possible.
Elly Hoult is group director - assets and sustainability at Notting Hill Genesis.