A suitable and effective asset management system is crucial for the success of any housing association. Ensuring you have a suitable system in place can offer a wide range of advantages, from enabling lower running costs and higher staff efficiency, to creating a more sustainable, compliant asset base.
There are a number of core functions that any effective asset management system should include, so these should be the first things you look for when assessing the suitability of your current system. Some of these core features that your system should have as standard are:
- Record keeping for Health and Safety compliance, including separate records for:
- Water hygiene
- Fire protection and risk assessments
- Flood protection and risk assessments
- Mechanical & Electrical
- Planned & Cyclical maintenance schedules, enabling a clear understanding of any repairs and maintenance needed in each property
- Records and monitoring of each home/development's energy efficiency for Affordable Warmth compliance
- Decent Homes Standard compliance with the ability to identify any required areas of improvement
- Audit compliance, allowing information from reports to be traced back to the source data
- Allows access to, and reporting on, up to date, accurate information
Your system must be simple and easy to use so that staff across the organisation are able and confident to access and update the system on a daily basis.
While a more basic level system may be effective for smaller organisations (or you may feel like your organisation is operating effectively using one), you may benefit from an asset management system that offers further functionality.
Some of the additional functions that a higher level system may include are:
- Current, up to date stock levels and occupancy levels to enable more accurate and realistic resource allocation, cost planning and budget monitoring
- The use of Graphical Information Systems (GIS) to help organisations visualise the properties and land they own on a map, with the ability to hold layers of information e.g. planned works, reactive repairs, type of heating installed, etc.
- Using Sensors in assets to enable proactive asset management e.g. monitoring and tracking performance of assets can enable you to target service or maintenance activities before components fails
- Detailed scenario planning
- Component Accounting
- Clear audit trails that allow authorised users to trace information from reports back to the original source data
- This audit trail should be accessible both to internal staff and external auditing bodies
- Integration with other internal systems such as the CRM, Housing Management, Repairs Management, Scheduling, Mobile Working and Finance systems to allow a comprehensive view of all properties and make sure that reports from the asset management system are accurate and up to date without having to manually input all information
- Remote access from a smartphone or tablet to allow staff to access and update the central database while away from their workstation, on site or with a customer
It is important to keep in mind that additional features do not mean that you need to sacrifice simplicity. In order to be fit for purpose, your asset management system needs to be flexible enough to provide all the information needed to meet regulatory (and internal business) requirements, while still being straightforward enough to use on a day-to-day basis.
Assessing your current asset management system
Having a suitable asset management system in place will help you effectively manage your asset base and maintain compliance - making the most of your resources and assisting your budgetary control - and deliver the best possible service all year round.
So when it comes to making sure that your system is fit for purpose, all systems and how they integrate need to be reviewed regularly to assess functionality, highlight any areas of improvement and identify potential cost savings.
Looking at what information is required for audits, regulatory compliance and internal performance reports will guide and set the basis of the system review. Engaging an IT consultant who has extensive experience working with housing associations will also ensure that you can fully assess the suitability of your current systems and how they compare with other software packages for your specific purposes.
If there are gaps in your system, specialist independent advice can also help you to work out how best to improve it. Or, if necessary, assist in making an evidence-based decision on whether trying to upgrade it or replacing it with full implementation of an alternative product would deliver the best return on investment.
Shaw Consulting are specialists in IT consultancy for the social housing and care sectors. Working closely with your internal staff, we can assess the effectiveness of your current systems, taking into consideration all aspects of your IT service and whether it is structured correctly to benefit and meet the needs of your customers and the business.
If you have a project you'd like to discuss, please contact us via the website and we will be happy to help.