Onward has been a Housemark subscriber for over ten years and, during this time, they’ve been able to capitalise on the many benefits that a Housemark subscription brings. We caught up with Anita Wright, Head of Analytics and Insight at Onward to find out more.

What made you want to become a Housemark subscriber?

We were using various benchmarking companies and we wanted to narrow this down to just one. We decided to choose Housemark as specialists within the housing sector. We realised that we had been  quite inward looking before we signed up as members – but being able to access benchmarking information from lots of different organisations enabled us to compare ourselves to others and see how we perform against the wider sector.

We can now set our targets against the benchmarking data we get from Housemark and it gives us something to measure against and work towards. We have buy-in from the senior management team and they’re on board with this.

What services have you benefited from?

We’ve used various services included in our subscription throughout our organisation. We find Monthly Pulse helpful as the reports are so timely and relevant, with a wealth of up to-date information. We’re able to come armed to our monthly meetings with these reports, and the benchmarking data gives us a steer on some of the key elements within our business. We also use the Tailored Feedback reports in our organisation too, to help us make strategic decisions.

I was putting together a new performance framework and streamlining KPIs, and it was great to be able to go to Jonathan Cox (Director of Data and Business Intelligence at Housemark) who checked this over and gave me the right steer and offered some hints and tips on what it is that I could do. It’s also been beneficial to have Jonathan help us on the tenant satisfaction measures and how we might need to collect these. It’s been valuable knowing that I can access this expertise.

Have any of these services changed the way you do things?

We have a monthly meeting where we talk about voids at a strategic level, including re-let times, and what we’re going to do about these properties. I take the benchmarking data along with me so we have the most up to date information. We know we’re performing at quartile two but colleagues like to understand how they can do better and get to quartile one, which gives us targets for the team and a competitive challenge to work towards.

We also get discounted rates on consultancy as part of our subscription. We were involved in the Customer Experience Project and conducted a contact centre review a few years ago, which supported our proposals around moving towards a single contact centre.

We measured frequency of calls along with a broad range of measures, then made the decision to change our customer service structure. Since putting those changes in place, a further review a few years later reassured us that we did the right thing. It’s good to feel that reassurance and empowerment that you’ve made the right decisions.

The Tailored Feedback sessions have been fundamental in helping to validate our strategic decisions. We found the repairs and satisfaction data especially useful, and our finance colleagues are also now looking to use the data as part of the annual budget setting process. It helps us to understand where we can review and streamline some of our business costs by being able to match performance and cost together. For instance, we’re now looking at our office space requirements – a practical example of how data is driving decisions.

Ultimately, our Housemark subscription has driven performance improvement across several areas. Having bespoke support across a range of projects has been very helpful. Tapping into the webinars and training we get in our membership has been really valuable and I encourage my team to go to these sessions to keep learning from others. We’ve bought into Housemark at all levels, and this cascades down throughout the organisation – data is now part of our culture.

Would you say that a Housemark subscription is valuable?

Yes, it’s definitely valuable! From the reporting to the bespoke support, it’s great to have additional colleagues that you can get support and advice from. Housemark acts as a critical friend, and I would encourage organisations to join Housemark.