25 February 2020

While everyone thinks data is important, we often take it for granted…until something goes wrong.

I know I’m not alone in having a lovely file of letters from various organisations that have lost my data… This is equally true for organisations as it is for individuals – and not just from a risk perspective. Our staff told us, that on average, each one of them spends at least 20% of their time needlessly finding, chasing and checking data. This is a huge waste of time and a distraction from what we should be doing – providing better services and more homes.

At this point having heard the word data, many people will have a different four-letter word ringing in their head – “blah, blah, blah”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to rattle on in technical jargon. The only lake I am thinking about is for swimming and the only relevant warehouse is where my Amazon parcel is coming from.

I don’t come from a technical or formal data background, but I’m incredibly excited how better information can inform decisions and ultimately deliver better services and more homes, which is fundamentally what we are here to do. You may ask, why should I keep listening to a confessed non-data expert? When Hyde started looking at why it had data issues, it became clear that solutions to the underlying causes required changes in people, process and technology – in that order – and what was necessary to address them was a focus on culture and change. This was a challenge I could help with…along with a little help from my (more technical) friends.

For Hyde, our data journey started in the form of inconsistencies in our internal and external reporting and our submissions to our regulator (sound familiar?). Rather than just react to (and correct) the errors, we recognised that this was an opportunity to become ‘brilliant at the basics’ in managing our data. This focus on the basics was important as we were well aware of the risk of getting distracted by the shiny, exciting newness of artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. and not getting the fundamentals in place. For us, ‘brilliant at the basics’ means:

  • We’ll have a clear picture of the data we have and the data we need – with a plan for filling gaps and controls in place to manage changes.
  • We’ll be one team adopting new ways of working and working together to ensure our data is right.
  • Data will be an integral part of everyone’s day-to-day work…and thinking.

How will we know if we have succeeded? When everyone at Hyde tells us that they can trust the information in front of them, have greater confidence as they do their job and that they can use that 20% of their time to focus on delivering a first-class customer service for our customers.

Be part of the debate

Kerry is speaking at the virtual Housing Governance 2020 conference, which will be held on 10 July.

Kerry Tromanhauser

Kerry is Acting Chief Information & Data Officer at Hyde Housing

Originally a barrister and solicitor practicing criminal and family law, Kerry has been working in social housing since falling into it 15 years ago and realising how rewarding working within the sector can be. Having worked in a number of organisations, predominantly in risk and governance, and more latterly change roles, Kerry has become a data convert recognising that embracing data is essential for us to meet the challenges that face us – be it regulatory, economic or service driven. Kerry is currently the Acting Chief Information & Data Officer at the Hyde Group after delivering a large scale information Governance Programme.

Becoming brilliant at data governance: the basics