Ashley Green (CEO at Gloucester City Homes) is a guest contributor for our Executive Blog. Here he talks about the key drivers behind Gloucester’s DLO project, and outlines key factors for making similar projects a success.
There are many benefits to making the transition to becoming a DLO: huge tax savings, the freedom to grow and gain control over your service, become more efficient, as well as opening up another revenue stream through creating a commercial service. However, it is important to remember that a transition of this nature is complex, with many facets to consider. It involves the coordination of numerous internal and external partners – and you cannot afford to have any weak links.
Bringing our repairs service in-house is a critical project for us this year. Therefore, it is imperative that we get the project done on time and to target, and that our customers do not experience a change in what they consider to be their no.1 service priority (other than improvements).
So how do you approach a critical business project of this nature? We have found the following to be fundamentally important to the success of this project:
1. Secure your key resources
Make sure that you secure your resources (human and financial) at the start of the project and that you perform a fundamental options review and involve your tenants.
For us, it is important that we have the right capacity available throughout the project. We have a key project team and a board sub-group who are responsible for overseeing the project and ensuring that any issues are quickly managed to ensure the project remains on track. When you put your key project team together, it is important that you choose people with the right skills, experience and expertise. Two key roles within this team for us are:
- A Project Manager who is your key point of contact and who can effectively manage the many varied facets of a DLO project and run the project successfully.
- A Programme Manager who can initiate key targets and coordinate your internal and external partners – e.g. suppliers, procurement, IT, and logistics.
2. IT is key to driving efficiencies
A key element of this project for us was ensuring that we had the right IT in place to make everything happen. IT is key to driving an efficient repairs and maintenance service and so for GCH we need to ensure that the project is delivered on time; tenants can order repairs effectively 24/7, we can schedule repairs on time and then deliver on time.
3. Work with a trusted partner
When embarking on a transition to becoming a DLO, or on any significant project, it is critical that you have a trusted partnership with a key partner, with agreement and commitment on both sides. A trusted partner for us is one who can deliver, is prepared to listen and go that extra mile for you – and most importantly it is a partner that can drive us forward as a business. Fundamental to our approach to working in partnership with Orchard was having an honest and open relationship. This is because you need to breed success – both sides need to keep pushing and pushing, and never accept second best and never stand still.
4. Communication is the key
When working on a project of this size, internal consultation and communication is a key element and focus. For our project, we are communicating updates at every board meeting, and update staff on a monthly basis. It is all about getting (and keeping) everyone on board all of the time.
5. Be realistic
Finally, you have to be realistic. This goes from being honest with ourselves in terms of the resources required through to the deadlines you set. If you have a fixed time that you have to complete the project by and ‘Go Live’ from, as is the case with our project, then you need to phase the project accordingly and prioritise what is the top priority for your business and your customers. For us, we want to bring our service in-house and also move onto providing a commercial service – but we cannot do both together in our fixed time scales so our focus is gaining control over the no.1 service priority for our existing customers.
Ashley Green, CEO, Gloucester City Homes