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29 May 2019

This month we spoke to Steve Dungworth, director of digital transformation at Accent Group about how the housing association has embraced technology to help meet its compliance obligations. He explained the plethora of health and safety issues that must be recorded, tracked and flagged at relevant points, and how technology is making things much more efficient.

What does compliance mean to the Accent Group?

For Accent, compliance is not just about the obvious issues such as fire safety, gas and electrical testing and certification, we’ve had a project running for about 15 months covering all aspects of health and safety related compliance which includes a number of other things we must record and flag where necessary. The list is long and includes fire risk and health and safety internal surveys, fire safety equipment, electrical safety, gas and fuel/water hygiene, lifts, scheme inspections, asbestos, warden call, trees, security, radon, children’s play areas, CCTV and pressure systems. Monitoring them all is a full-time job.

Has compliance become more important in the last couple of years?

Yes and No. The safety of our residents has always been very important and a high priority – customer safety comes first. We ensured that gas safety and electrical safety checks were carried out diligently by our repairs contractors, and our Health & Safety team had a robust approach to managing fire safety inspections. However, the focus from an ICT perspective has significantly increased following the Grenfell fire tragedy in June 2017.

The immediate response of senior leaders was to seek a new system to provide greater visibility and transparency on compliance task management. Their needs were on having good quality data analytics to be able reassure residents, board members and regulators.

What systems did you use to manage compliance previously?

Accent has used ActiveH since 2012. We have utilised many modules some of which were relevant to this project including CRM, HPM, Repairs, Mobile Working Surveyor & CRM and Planned Maintenance.

We looked at other systems including PIMSS, APEX and Keystone which provided rich functionality. However, we concluded that procuring, setting up, configuring and developing a completely new system would not provide any new or additional benefits than continuing to develop ActiveH using our data which we have built up over seven years.

The main challenge was to move different departments away from their lovely spreadsheets so that there was a single organisational view of performance with supporting evidence.

How are you using ActiveH to see the big picture now?

ActiveH was chosen as our solution because it provided the flexibility and toolkit to deliver diverse solutions to different sets of users: attributes, workflow, tasking, mobile working, contractor gateway and the new-to-us snapshots.

This means for each compliance area we have a way of converting the user process and needs into an integrated solution that suits the housing officer, surveyor and maintenance contractor. A proper 360-degree view in one place you might say.

The only additional software we have used for some time is for high-level reporting to senior leaders across the organisation. For this we are extracting data from ActiveH overnight into our corporate QlikView reporting tool. We also have various elements of specific compliance data (such as Fire Risk Assessments) presented in a real-time basis within Asset Attribute Snapshots in ActiveH.

What would you say are the benefits in having all of your compliance data integrated into your main system?

Visibility and transparency to all involved in housing and asset management.

Prior to our recent developments, fire safety remedial actions were kept on a single spreadsheet on the Intranet and managed by a central H&S team. Actions could be relevant to almost any member of staff, contractors or specialist. Access to the spreadsheet was difficult and a lot of data quality maintenance was required to correct errors and omissions. Remedial training for how to use the spreadsheet was frequently provided.

Not only has using ActiveH allowed multiple users to access and update their actions but it has also driven a new culture of clearance as quickly as possible. Visibility has meant that managers are able to breakthrough bottlenecks or delays caused by absences. Team working is much better with different departments coming together to solve problems. The quality of data is also improved. Senior leaders are able to demonstrate good governance to board members and regulators.

We are about 80% complete on the project. Users are beginning to see potential solutions for different attributes and they are becoming more engaged with ActiveH than they ever were.

Are you willing to share your approach?

Yes, was are always happy to share our ActiveH development bearing in mind that we have bespoked the system to meet the needs of Accent processes and user requirements. Please contact Steve Dungworth (Director of Digital Development) on 01274 065745, Helen Compton (CX Product Manager) on 01274 065472 or Neal Somerville (Agile Project Manager) on 01274065652.

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