Housing and Residential Services

Client: Nottingham City Homes

Assignment: End to End Review of the Voids Process

End to End Review of the Voids Process at Nottingham City Homes

The Problem

The organisation had to learn how to share information with itself and reorganise processes around the problems that voids, the time a property is left empty from when a tenant leaves and another one enters is significantly reduced, to raise performance and achieve efficiency improvements. With over 2000 voids per year, the process was slow, expensive and not providing tenants with the best possible customer experience.

Bourton Group was brought in to focus on applying Lean principles, driving waste out of the system and creating a culture of Continuous Improvement and self-sufficiency. The challenge was complicated by the fact that our engagement was in a complex set of discretionary activities and service spread over nine key phases across the organisation.

Over three years we worked in NCH’s leadership team and had run smaller rapid improvement events in the activities of mutual exchanges and missed appointments.

As with all large and complex change programmes, we needed an approach that would:

  • Raise awareness and energise a broad base of stakeholders, from the top team, through the influential middle managers to the staff in property services and lettings
  • Prove the worth of Lean quickly with early benefits
  • Identify end-to-end process improvements to deliver tangible value to the client
  • Develop individual and organisational capabilities to support process improvements
  • Transfer knowledge and skills to build client self-sufficiency
  • Establish a culture of continuous and sustained improvement

The Solution

Programme Set Up and Rapid Benefits

In the first phase, we established a programme team with a top level sponsor, a programme manager and internal facilitators. We established a reference group, comprising the key managers in the process that were responsible for delivering the voids process across the organisation. The role of the reference group was to ensure the ideas created throughout the review were implementable and ensured middle management buy in to the revised process. We then created a large joint client-consultant team, which were trained in lean techniques and then systematically analysed the whole voids process end to end.

Process Improvements

The voids process is extremely complex with potential for multiple handoffs (the keys to the voids property changed hands up to 26 times throughout the process). We worked with a selected team from across the whole process to create current and future value stream maps. The end result was a multi-level set of recommendations and improvement projects in which waste in current processes was identified and teams began initiating local improvements to eliminate or reduce delays and duplications before the new process were reintroduced into the organisation.

Knowledge Transfer

As projects started to flow through, our consultants trained NCH’s facilitators in the tools, techniques and application of Lean ways of working. We created a workbook for facilitators on how to run events, templates and toolkits and an overall framework for the management team to show them how to identify and align the right lean tools to the problems.

Organisation and Leadership

The process had top level buy in and sponsorship from the Chief Executive and his executive team from day one. The finance director was appointed as the sponsor with the Business Improvement manager as the programme manager. Buy in from the Reference group was seen as key to the success of the programme. The cross cutting nature of the Voids process meant that several handovers across Directorates creates tensions between departments that needed resolving as part of the new solution. The final review was attended by the CEO and his team plus the Reference Group where the recommendations were agreed and the implementation plan signed off. A comprehensive 9 month plan was developed and fed into the Senior Management Group to ensure resources were allocated to deliver the plan and realise the expected benefits.

The Benefits

  • Potential increased Revenue £825 k
  • Capacity released – 36K hours

Details of phases:

Current State Stages Future State
HPM’s – Laptop PC’s Notice to Quit Pre-Termination Inspections
Void Stage
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

1. Time from Termination

Leverage Northgate

Mobile  Working/


Mobile Working/Technology

Leverage Northgate

Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

2. Time at Storage
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

3. Pre – Inspection
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

4. Clearance
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

PDA’S Investigated

5. Time at Works – 10 Day
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

6. Final Clean
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

7. Post Inspection
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

8. Property Ready to Let
Manual-S/Sheet Admin

Individual Key Handling

9. Time to Let Property
Current state 45 Days Future State 12 days
Current state  Activity 48 Hours Future State 30 Hours


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