The common misconceptions around data management

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Earlier this year, we said that, ‘Ineffective data management is the single biggest compliance risk faced by registered providers of social housing’, – see our blog around the pitfalls of ineffective data management. As we continue to progress through 2019, we still believe this to be true.

Having now conducted over 80 compliance reviews for housing associations and registered providers across the UK, we know from first-hand experience that only a few organisations, have acceptable data management policies and procedures in place. But why is the case? Often it is because people have the wrong idea about data management, the problems they face, and whose responsibility it actually is.

With this in mind, here are the most common misconceptions we have faced around data management.

The problem is ‘too big to fix’

We often find that providers are aware that they have issues with their data/systems, but due to the perceived scale of fixing it, they adopt ‘workarounds’ to problems, and only face issues after they have happened, instead of addressing them beforehand. Working like this, raises numerous issues, including reducing how effective an organisation can be in managing compliance.

However, no problem is too big fix, and it is time organisations took a reactive approach, rather than the current reactive stance that we are seeing. We have worked on several data validation pieces for some of the largest providers in the UK, and have been able to provide them with clean data, which is now helping them to accurately manage their compliance, without issue, meaning that you too can find a fix. Whether it be tackling a problem in house, or by sourcing external help from those who can.

‘We’ve got bigger problems to worry about’

One of the most common issues we have seen, is a lack of appreciation amongst providers to acknowledge the importance of data management, and instead believe that their statutory compliance obligations take priority. Strictly speaking, yes this is true, and we are strong advocates that tenant safety is of paramount importance when it comes to compliance. But, without reliable data to evidence and track your efforts, there is no means to ensure that you are actually achieving this. Therefore, we believe data is equally important, and organisations need to understand this.

‘Data management? That’s an IT issue’

The sector has for a long period of time, taken the position that system weaknesses and shortfalls is the responsibility of IT departments to fix, and while this view is changing, some compliance managers and technical operates still believe this. This is incorrect. It is the responsibility of compliance managers and technical operators to ensure that the data they hold works for them, in terms of delivering effective compliance programmes, which keeps their tenants safe, and importantly, can be evidenced and monitored too.

Single person dependency

In our experience, we frequently come across providers with systems in place, which only one person truly understands how to work. As a result of this, this individual quickly becomes the single point of contact for extracting compliance data, producing reporting and extracting programmes. Having this amount of dependency on a single person is extremely risky, for instance, if that person was on holiday, off sick or if they even moved onto pastures new, the company would be left extremely vulnerable.

It is therefore essential that you have plenty of staff trained, to be capable of extracting and producing the required information, to avoid this from happening.

How we can help…

These are just some of the common misconceptions that we have come across, but there are countless others, which we could have mentioned. If you are currently facing any data management issues and are needing assistance, we can help.

At Pennington Choices, we work closely with providers, to ensure that tenants and their lives are not put at risk. Our diverse and experienced consultancy team, is built-up with technical experts that work across fire safety, gas safety, electrical safety, asbestos management and water hygiene, to put in place practical solutions to any shortfalls that they may come across.

We keep things simple…

The breadth of our experience across the housing sector, means that we understand what to look for, and can work with you to support your journey to achieving full compliance and complete tenant safety.

For more information, on how we can help you, get in touch with Sarah Davies, our Head of Consultancy, here today.

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