Aster Group commissioned Housemark to understand how to harness the power of data and to create a cultural shift, aimed at centralising data use within their organisation. We spoke to Paul O’Callaghan about Aster's experience of Housemark’s consultancy services.  

What were your reasons for commissioning consultancy from Housemark? What were your main drivers? 

We realised that data is important for any organisation but needed to understand more about how to harness the power of our own data. We needed a single, centralised approach to how we use data as we recognised that there were disparate approaches across the business. Our ultimate aim was to use data to transform our business – this was a key driver for us to work with Housemark’s consultancy team. The pandemic was also an instigator and a catalyst for us to really get under the skin of how we could use data to navigate through uncertain times and become more resilient. We had recently taken the decision to implement MS Dynamics as a single system approach, and this was another main driver behind us wanting to standardise and improve the integrity of the data in our legacy systems before implementation. 

What areas of your business did Housemark look at and how did they help? 

Arturo Dell, Housemark Associate, worked with people across the organisation to get a cross-section of input, holding workshops with large numbers of employees (who found it really engaging and collaborative) and a series of discovery exercises based on semi-structured interviews with staff on a one-to-one basis. Arturo advised that we needed new roles to help get the right structure in place, to be able to create a strong foundation of data use within the organisation. The workshops with different business areas focused on how data is used today and how it’s use can be improved.  

How have you used this insight and learning within your business? What has now changed? 

The learning and insight were impactful. We now have a Director of Data, and a lead for data in our Executive Team, along with a small team responsible for centralising data use across the business. Before, we had a siloed approach to data and inefficient data processes, we now have a vision for the whole team and a strategic approach which will take us through the next five years.  

How has this impacted on your employees/tenants/organisation? 

We’re now ‘data-first’ and basing our decisions on data, rather than using data to back up our perceptions. The organisation has a clarity of vision and the data to drive the agenda. From colleague, customer and asset data, we have people responsible for each of these areas. We want to make data the main driver rather than using it to validate our decisions.  

As a result of this more data-focused approach, we have been able to redefine our repairs service, looking at which employees are on certain patches and identify where the biggest demands are – we can then meet this accordingly with the right resource. We’ve gone from a reactive approach to a proactive approach – ultimately ensuring that we can meet our tenants needs and their repairs requests.  

Our new data driven culture has benefited the whole organisation. We can be more responsive, and our customer service is more effective. 

Our employees are happy with the changes too. They were involved in the journey and have been empowered to use data to make a difference. They feel more valued knowing that they had input into the process and share the same vision. Each participant commented on the interactive whiteboard on the workshops they attended and felt engaged. 

We opted to pursue and action all of the recommendations put forward by Housemark. We know as we progress each of these recommendations, we will continue to see further benefits and efficiency, impacting our employees, tenants and organisation. 

We’ve seen a cultural shift and greater appreciation of data. It’s now at the forefront of our business decisions, structure and resources and we’ve already experienced a wealth of positive outcomes.