Craig March: How pragmatic data management is helping Scottish social landlords improve tenant services

Craig March: How pragmatic data management is helping Scottish social landlords improve tenant services

Craig March

Craig March, a principal consultant of data at Housemark, explores how a pragmatic approach to data management can help Scottish social landlords to get a better handle on the challenges they face and result in better outcomes for tenants.

Effective data management is a cornerstone for informed decision-making and strategic planning for Scottish housing providers. Its importance has escalated dramatically in recent years, as social landlords navigate through complex challenges such as housing demands, maintenance priorities and customer satisfaction.

Yet as Scottish landlords are increasingly inundated with data from various sources, including tenant feedback, property maintenance records and financial transactions, the question arises how best to harness this information to make good decisions?

Playing darts blindfolded

Many landlords face hurdles in integrating disparate data systems, ensuring data quality and deriving actionable insights. This gap between data availability and its effective use hampers their ability to respond swiftly to tenant needs, allocate resources efficiently and plan with confidence.

Trying to bridge this gap without an understanding of the internal and external environment a landlord operates in is like trying to win a game of darts blindfolded. This can be especially true when looking inside your organisation. Systems, skills and governance are often the biggest challenges landlords face when trying to leverage their data. When this is combined with aspirational and unrealistic strategic intentions for data, it can unintentionally leave a landlord in a worse position than before. Understanding that environment, having situational awareness and adopting a pragmatic mindset towards data management are key here.

Pragmatic approach

Pragmatic data management is an approach that prioritises practicality and applicability in the handling, analysis and use of data. It focuses on developing and implementing strategies that are not only theoretically sound but also highly actionable and directly beneficial to an organisation’s specific needs. This approach advocates for the use of data in ways that are realistic, achievable and closely aligned with the operational goals and constraints of an organisation.

By emphasising actionable strategies, pragmatic data management ensures that data-related activities – from collection and storage to analysis and reporting – are designed to deliver tangible outcomes. These can include improved decision-making processes, enhanced operational efficiencies and better service delivery to end-users.

Elderpark experience

Elderpark Housing Association took exactly this approach recently when faced with a performance reporting challenge after implementing a new system – a challenge many landlords have faced. New systems bring advances in technology which bring new practices and changes in how data is modelled and eventually used for reporting. These changes aren’t always visible until systems are active.

Housemark supported Elderpark through this transitional phase to its new reporting platform, working in partnership to explore the options available to Elderpark within its environment that would best meet its current and future reporting needs. Rather than initiating a costly and lengthy data warehousing project (which might have been a more traditional solution), a pragmatic approach was taken that prioritised immediate reporting requirements using existing tools, supplemented with Housemark specialist reporting support. This allowed Elderpark to gain assurance over its data and provide insight into its performance quickly and efficiently, along with learning more about its data and reporting infrastructure, to be able to make informed, strategic decisions.

Multitude of benefits

This is just one example of how a pragmatic approach is, in our experience of working with social landlords, the most effective approach. Utilising the concept of pragmatic data management allied with the operating context can offer a multitude of benefits for Scottish landlords.

By adopting a practical approach to data management, landlords can ensure that their strategies are not only theoretically sound but also directly applicable to their day-to-day operations. This approach enables them to make informed decisions quickly, improve tenant satisfaction through responsive service delivery and enhance operational efficiency by identifying and addressing issues proactively.

To find out more about pragmatic data management contact Craig March at Housemark on

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