Housing and Residential Services

Client: The Riverside Group

Assignment: Development of Continuous Improvement Capability

Development of Continuous Improvement Capability

The Problem

The Riverside Group is a major Housing and Care provider in the UK. Headquartered in Liverpool and a turnover of £300m with approximately 60,000 homes and 3,000 staff; its operations span the country through regional divisions. Bourton were initially engaged by Riverside on an organisational development and change management programme and provided organisational redesign consultancy to support the development of their target operating model

Riverside had grown dramatically over time and there was evidence that the senior leadership group was struggling to share common purpose and to align activity efficiently and effectively across the business.

To some extent, whilst performance was adequate, silo thinking was evident.  After the 2015 General Election, the government set a challenging backdrop for social housing organisations by reducing their ability to generate income and by setting out a strategy for increased tenant home ownership in the sector.

Riverside now had significant financial reasons to change the way that they operated.  There was a risk that the current service and divisional structures duplicated effort and that support and enabling departments were neither streamlined nor focused on their internal customers.  The Group also recognised that there is a need to build a Continuous Improvement culture, underpinned by shared approaches to ongoing improvement that drive efficiency and effectiveness.  As a result, they required support to:

  • Build internal process improvement capability and capacity
  • Develop and deploy a ‘Riverside Way of CI’
  • Embed the developed approach into the organisation via targeted deployment in critical process or value stream areas to demonstrate approach applicability and drive measurable efficiency and effectiveness.

The Solution

Working with the Executive Director for Shared Services and Transformation, we engaged in developing greater understanding of Continuous Improvement and the deployment of Lean. The approach adopted was as follows:

  • Design and deliver a series of 5-day Business Improvement training courses to 30 participants based upon Lean Sigma methodology that equips practitioners with ability to carry out structured Rapid Improvement Events and introduces Team based CI approaches (3Cs, LDMS, etc)
  • Deliver a series of Rapid Improvement Events (RIE) as action centred application to accelerate learning via targeted process improvement projects across the Asset Management.
“The Lean Daily Management System®, LDMS® are federally registered trademarks of Kaufman Global.”

The Benefits

The first RIE targeted the Responsive Repairs process and the associated costs. The Responsive Repairs process undertakes around 175,000 repairs per year and from these, around 400 formal complaints per month were generated which put the organisation in the lower quartile of performance for this activity in the sector. A Lean based RIE project was initiated and we worked with the senior Asset team and Riverside’s subsidiary repairs business, Evolve, to scope the problem and to develop a process improvement approach which could be used to find root causes of the process problems and to generate new organisation and process models which would address the root causes.

During the project, process performance data was collected and analysed to understand the current performance, the current process was mapped to understand current process issues/hotspots and root causes were identified by a multi-disciplinary team.

Following this, a far reaching future state process model was developed which addressed the root causes. Key features of the new process were: better diagnosis upfront, clarity of service standards, new ways of scheduling front line staff, more flexibility/empowerment of front line staff to achieve first time fix, improved communication with tenants and improved use of technology.

The project is now in the implementation phase and it is estimated that the first-time fix rate (HouseMark definition) will increase from 84% to 90% and that customer satisfaction will improve from 82% to 95%.

Next steps

  • We are currently running as series of Lean Awareness training workshops for the Senior and Middle managers of the group to help engagement and to assist in the wider deployment of Lean and CI.
  • We have identified and scoped a second RIE which is targeting underperformance in Tenancy Agreements. The Tenancy Agreement is currently a printed document and is a contract signed by the tenant and the organisation during a process known as “Tenancy Sign Up”. Other documents are also provided at the time of sign up. With agile working and the move toward more documents being available digitally this process involves many process steps, various stakeholders and consequently takes too long, is prone to error and costly to administer. There are around 6000 allocations per year and the there is a need to simplify and automate this process to reduce the administration burden and to improve customer service.

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