Sovereign Housing Group’s approach to Service
Delivery Performance and Continuous Improvement
The purpose of this note is to respond to the TSA’s request for a report on
performance improvement in relation to services to tenants. This report
outlines the performance and service improvements for 2008/09; the
approach to continuous improvement through the ‘Orion’ project and how
feedback is used from tenants and staff to continually improve services. It is
also intended to demonstrate compliance with Regulatory Code 3.2 and 3.3.
Service Delivery Performance
The SHG Board (Parent) receives performance reports covering key
operational and contextual (finance, IT and HR) performance indicators. A
copy of the performance management outturn report for 2008/09 is attached.
(SACS - Appendix 4)
Quarterly performance indicators are distributed to all Boards and more
detailed bespoke reports are supplied as required on areas such as anti
social behaviour housing management and repairs performance.
All Group Associations are members of HouseMark and actively benchmark
across the sector to try and improve the services offered, with the aim of
achieving upper quartile results. As a Group, Sovereign benchmarks
nationally and against the over 5000 peer group. Additionally, performance is
compared with other associations on a more local basis in the South East and
West. In addition to scrutinising PIs, benchmarking is undertaken with
associations considered to be good performers in specific areas. The
outcome of the Status Survey is also benchmarked.
Performance Reporting within the Subsidiaries
All members of the Group report performance to the respective Boards of
management on a quarterly basis. All reporting frameworks provide a
transparent and comprehensive view of the performance of an organisation
using different data sources and giving the Board a holistic view of the
business. The areas covered include customer/service user information,
value for money and financial viability indicators and internal
management/human resource management indicators.
Sovereign Housing Group Limited is charitable
All performance indicators are accompanied by a narrative, highlighting on an
exceptions basis any key issues arising from the PIs. They also include trend
analysis and performance against targets and benchmarks. In instances
where the PI has deteriorated and may have a detrimental effect on the
business, a narrative is provided outlining what corrective action is proposed
or has already been taken.
The Group Approach to Continuous Improvement
The Group Strategic Plan 2008-11 (GSP), approved in 2008, builds upon the
Group wide Continuous Improvement Strategy which was developed and
approved during 2007/08. It further embeds the approach to continuous
improvement through a number of key goals, which are aimed at improving
the way the Group works and the services delivered.
The following key goals within the GSP directly relate to continuous
improvement and service improvement to tenants:
The goal is to develop and improve the services
offered, to achieve 85% overall satisfaction with services by 31/3/11, and
upper quartile performance for 90% of agreed service KPIs by 31/3/11.
These goals are embedded into all subsidiary action plans.
The goal is to continue to improve
neighbourhoods so that 80% of residents are satisfied with their
neighbourhood as a place to live and 55% and are satisfied with the
support provided to deal with ASB by 31/3/11
The goal is to improve homes so that 90% of residents
are satisfied with the overall quality of their home by 31/3/11
- The goal is to make sure that services reflect the
communities varied needs, achieving 70% satisfaction that residents’
views are being taken into account, and seeing no significant variation in
overall satisfaction levels for diversity groups, by 31/3/11
The goal is for the Group to become more effective by
sharing best practice across all areas of work. By 31/3/11, high common
standards for 90% of service will have been set and delivered.
The goal is to review all services and organise them to
achieve improved service quality and/or reduced overall costs by 31/3/11
Given the changes in the Group’s operating environment the Board will be
reviewing strategy and targets in Q3 2009/10.
Service Improvements in 2008/09
The Group works closely with residents to help influence shape and improve
services by offering a wide range of involvement opportunities. Specific
examples demonstrating how residents have shaped services are included
within the Self-Assessment Compliance Statement (SACS – Appendix 2)
Resident involvement in Service Improvement
4.2.1 Strategic influence
The Group Strategic Plan (GSP) has been influenced by resident feedback
and by resident Board members. Although it has not been through a formal
resident consultation process it provides opportunities for specific pieces of
targeted work with the Group Residents Forum (or a similar group).
A Group Residents’ Forum (GRF) has been created to ensure that residents
are A) involved at the highest level of decision making and that B) the Group’s
strategic direction reflects the needs and aspirations of the customer. The
GRF comprises up to 16 members from subsidiaries across the group. The
Forum’s key responsibilities include scrutinising performance, service delivery
and customer feedback.
4.2.2 Residents influence in respect of the Orion Standards
The external view of service is embedded into the standards using resident
feedback information that has been gathered and consulted on through a
range of initiatives including:
Quality Action Groups
Additionally the GRF will support the peer review programme within the Orion
project. Specifically it will scope each service peer review based on
performance data, customer feedback and value for money and scrutinise the
outcome of all reviews, monitoring progress against the relevant action plan.
Embedding Good Practice
The Group Performance Team has responsibility for policy development and
on a regular basis it monitors good practice across the sector, making
changes to policies and procedures as required. Additionally each peer
review will include a review of current best practice. This is to ensure the
process is dynamic, identifying best practice in the sector and prompting
standards to be reviewed and possibly amended in the light of new
developments in the sector.
The Orion Project
In response to the strategic goals outlined above, an innovative group wide
project has been set up known as the Orion Project. It is designed to support
service improvements across all subsidiaries to provide a holistic approach
across the organisation, encouraging greater contact and team working
across the Group. The process has been developed in house, drawing on the
knowledge and experience of all managers across the business and is
facilitated and managed by the Group Performance Team. A core part of the
project is the Peer Review which is intended to provide a ‘quality circle’
approach to continuous improvement and strategic service planning.
Orion’s Aims and Objectives
1. To set and maintain service excellence standards across the business,
using the Audit Commission’s KLOEs as a base and identify good practice
as outlined in Good Practice Guidance and Audit Commission Inspection
2. To embed a culture of continuous improvement into service standards
across the Group, and support each subsidiary to deliver their actions to
meet the service standards set within the Orion Project
3. To involve customers, residents and stakeholders within the Sovereign
Housing Group, their role being to provide feedback, challenge service
delivery, shape service direction and priorities for the future
4. To facilitate effective sharing of best practice in service delivery across all
operational areas; both within and outside the Sovereign Housing Group,
and develop a model that cascades best practice throughout all
5. To ensure standards are consistently delivered; and offering value for
How it works
All Associations within the Group have collaborated to collate and agree on
365 service standards. These standards were determined by the KLOEs and
also knowledge of best practice within the sector. Service delivery teams
within each Association have undertaken a gap analysis covering each
functional area e.g. tenancy and estate management services and cross
cutting functions such as Value for Money and Equality and Diversity, which
involved a self assessment of performance to provide a baseline position.
In response to the gaps identified, action plans have been developed for each
service area; some actions are specific to each individual organisation whilst
some are Group wide.
The Orion process is supported by the Group Performance Team which acts
as a ‘critical friend’ in assessing progress to deliver the actions that will meet
the Orion service standards by:
Ensuring the ‘gap analysis’ accurately reflects the delivery of services
against the standards set;
Ensuring action plans are SMART and are meeting the objectives;
Gathering customer feedback for key service areas for each organisation,
comparing feedback and analysing trends;
Gathering performance data and analysing trends, comparing delivery
against service targets set;
Comparing performance and customer satisfaction against the ‘Best in
To assess the performance of the Associations, a Peer Review Process has
been developed to embed continuous improvement. This offers a dynamic
approach to analysis and objective review of service areas and can be
implemented flexibly focusing on specific service areas.
Peer review will be carried out by managers of the different associations and
residents. To support residents and enable them to participate fully in the
peer review process, an independent training programme for residents has
been introduced, which is being delivered by Housing Quality Network.
In addition to delivering service improvements, peer review is seen as a tool
to bring managers from different parts of the organisation together, to learn
from each others experience and develop informal contacts and links.
The peer review process is due to commence in Autumn 2009.
Positive and negative customer feedback is encouraged and includes:
Formal satisfaction gathering through surveys
Comments made during interviews, visits, meetings or focus groups
Feedback is used to:
Test and challenge service standards
Inform Service and Policy reviews
Plan future services
Achieve Governance and Accountability
Learning from Customer Feedback – The Status Survey
In November 2008 a Group Wide Status Survey was undertaken. Its purpose
was to gauge residents’ views on services and understand their priorities for
the future. The Status Survey was positive with overall satisfaction, with the
service for the Group being 82%. Tenants did however identify issues of
concern and in 2009/10 improvements to services to address these issues
will be reviewed.
Learning from Customer Feedback – The TSA National Conversation
Staff and residents have attended events relating to the National
Conversation, both nationally and locally, and will be engaging in future
events and commenting on the new standards. In particular, the Group has
three methods of feedback to assist the TSA fine tune the draft standards.
Between now and September 2009 the Group will:
Hold meetings with all Resident Board members and members of the
Group Resident Forum to consult on the discussion papers and the
framework to get their views from a strategic perspective.
Consult a wider group of residents using existing engagement methods...
These include service improvement panels, focus groups and quality
Send out a discussion papers along with feedback forms to residents who
have previously had engagement with the TSA consultation.
Learning from Complaints
Customers can make complaints in writing, by telephone, in person, by e-
mail, by fax or by using our customer feedback forms. Trends in respect of
complaints and compensation payments are analysed and the service
improvements made as a result of complaints and compensation are
recorded. This information is published on the Group intranet.
Changes in policies and practices arising from complaints include
improving defect procedures post handover; improving clarity in respect of
rent increases for people that undertake a mutual transfer; improving
information to residents in respect of planned works
Use of Customer Profiling
As a housing provider it is recognised that understanding the diverse needs of
residents, which in turn will help shape future services, is essential.
Information is collected about tenants when a property is let and when a
tenancy audit is undertaken. Residents profile information at different levels
can be broken down, for example by local office area and down to individual
Housing officer patch. Data is also being collected on diversity including; age;
disability; ethnicity; gender; religion or belief; sexual orientation; transgender.
Staff Ideas, Bright Ideas Scheme (BIS)
Between November 2007 and October 2008 116 ideas were received in
relation to service improvements from 73 different people from across the
business (13% of all staff). Suggestions were mainly around improving
efficiency and effectiveness regarding how the Group works. The outcomes
included the introduction of an employee recognition scheme; video
conferencing between offices; car pooling and team volunteering days for
work in the local community.
The scheme was time limited and was closed in October 2008. However any
further suggestions will be considered and progressed by Managers and