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It’s been a busy year here at Vantage and as we draw 2016 to a close, I’ve been reflecting back on our 14th year of business working with some of the leading Social Housing providers. Here’s my wrap up of 2016…

My highlights of 2016 

1.     Being Shortlisted for a National Housing Maintenance Forum award for our work setting up and growing the Broadacres Housing Association DLO. Results are announced at the awards on 24th January so watch this space.

2.     Working with Midland Heart to transform their external repairs & maintenance contracts and seeing them become sustainable with significant savings delivered.

3.     2016 saw the launch of the Vantage Performance Improvement Club and our online Global Accounts Plus tool enabling genuine benchmarking and driving business improvement across the sector. Join us on February 9th in London for our next regional seminar.

4.     Helping a number of RPs to re-shape their operational models and identify efficiencies following mergers.

5.     Witnessing the fantastic agility of the Vantage team in responding to the changing needs of the sector.

6.     Adding marketing resource to the team to start to really showcase our work and share best practice in the sector.

The biggest challenge for the sector in 2017

1.     Early indicators from Global Accounts Plus and our research on R&M is that the size of RP doesn’t guarantee economies of scale. Our surveys will be published in early January so watch this space.

2.     Mergers continue to be one of the biggest challenges and opportunities for the sector with cultural transformation and integration bringing both opportunities and threats.  Over 60% of the organisations we work with are involved in mergers. We have been helping them through the change; implementing transformation programmes and delivering savings.

4.     The sector must ensure they attract the right people to the right jobs with the right skillsets. Personally, I’ve particularly enjoyed coaching and mentoring executive teams and implementing innovative performance management approaches.

5.     Digital inclusion and transformation remains one of the biggest opportunities for the sector. Ensuring that online assets can support delivery and best meet the needs of tenants.

The biggest learning of the year for the sector

1.     Innovate or you will get left behind. As an organisation and an individual the need to be agile and innovative has never been greater. We all don’t know what we don’t know so it’s good to learn from our peers.

2.     Over 90% of the sector have or are planning to implement cost reduction programmes and transformation plans, often using much of the same team for delivery of large scale change. There is some learning here around the power of peer support and how the likes of our Performance Improvement Club can bolster the success of transformation programmes.

3.     We all need to listen more. By closely listening to our customers we are developing new services shaped by them that they genuinely want, not what we think they want.

My predictions for the sector for 2017

1.     The sector needs to react to market changes and the challenge of the financial squeeze. The forecast headline social housing cost per unit from the HCA projects an 11% reduction in unit costs by 2018. We need to ensure we can reduce costs, become leaner and meet this challenge.

2.     I predict that the sector will become more versatile, evolving into more lean organisations and working smarter with peers to share best practice.

3.     Finally, I hope that the concerted efforts of everyone across the sector can help to build those vitally needed new homes.

What I am most looking forward to in 2017

1.     Continuing to get out to sector events and embracing speaking opportunities at conferences, including the forthcoming NHMF conference in January. Hopefully with some disruptive material!

2.     Seeing our clients secure more recognition and industry accolades for their innovative work in repairs and maintenance.

3.     Finally, I am looking forward to getting started on new and exciting projects in 2017 and continuing to work with some of the best in the sector.

All the best for 2017

Rob Bryan