Although I live in the USA, I am keenly aware of what is taking place in other countries. When I lived in Germany I spent several weeks in the UK looking at the social housing systems, programs and challenges. Of special interest to me were the welfare reforms affecting social housing associations. That included the bedroom tax, Universal Credit, disability benefit cuts, and overall benefit cuts. The cuts are very reminiscent to ones we have experienced in the USA and maybe experiencing again soon. Social housing and process improvement might be a perfect marriage.
One way to continue to provide high levels of service and mitigate the cutting of resources and money is to take on process improvement. One example might be the letting process. It is often complicated with loads of unnecessary steps, processes and confusing steps. Now might be the time that your agency could take the time to look at this process from A to Z and remove waste. What is waste you might ask?
- Defects – Products or services that are out of specification that require resources to correct.
- Overproduction – Producing too much of a product before it is ready to be sold.
- Waiting – Waiting for the previous step in the process to complete.
- Non-Utilized Talent – Employees that are not effectively engaged in the process
- Transportation – Transporting items or information that is not required to perform the process from one location to another.
- Inventory – Inventory or information that is sitting idle (not being processed).
- Motion – People, information or equipment making unnecessary motion due to workspace layout, ergonomic issues or searching for misplaced items.
- Extra Processing – Performing any activity that is not necessary to produce a functioning product or service.
Look at all of your steps within a process and mark any of them down that fall into the categories above. Put a special eye on those areas and continue to ask why you are doing it until you get to the root cause. Are you trying to think where you might put your focus straight away? Social housing and process improvement tend to go hand and hand. Look at these key areas.
- Purchasing a new building or asset for your association
- Letting a unit to a new tenant
- Voiding of one tenancy agreement or turning a unit over so a new one can move in.
- Capital maintenance improvements
- Compliance work
- Lease compliance all the way to eviction
- Selling property.
My aim is not to sell you services or tell you what is best. I encourage you to see what types of agencies in your town might be using lean or other process improvement methods. A lot of times sharing of knowledge can be a great first step. Get a book, watch a YouTube video or even take a class. The provision of affordable housing is important to the ones you serve. Social housing and process improvement make sense. Being as efficient in the delivery of that provision is in the best interest of the social housing client and your agency.