Getting Value for Money from your Data

Collecting data is an expensive business. Whether it is via an external appointed stock condition surveyor or by using in-house resources, it takes time and money to build up a large dataset from which to develop a suitably robust asset management strategy.

It is therefore important to ensure that you are getting the best value out of the data you hold and this falls into two key areas:

  • Optimize the way in which the data is interrogated and
  • Extend the life of your data

If your survey template has been well constructed and sampled you should have a hugely valuable dataset from which to work. However, having the data is one thing, analyzing and making sense of it is another and so you need to ensure that your asset management software has the capability to produce the type of analysis and reports that meet your needs. Most systems will have a number of pre-set reports based on the developers understanding of what the end user requires. It is important though that the Developer has a knowledge and understanding of the sector and is able to develop appropriately targeted outputs. Many software providers fall into the trap of “more is better” and create hugely complex and varied reporting tools that show off their Developing skills but which are of limited use to the end user.

To get the most out of your data, the system needs to be flexible enough to allow users to specify the parameters but intuitive enough to avoid unduly complex and time consuming user input. Simplicity is the key here but do not confuse simplicity with inferior or unsophisticated as it is entirely possible to carry out complex and powerful analysis and associated outputs without overwhelming the user with IT speak. Ensure your Developer knows your sector, speak to other users and be clear about what you want from your asset management system.

By its nature, a stock condition survey is a snapshot in time of what the properties were like when the survey was carried out. One month on and that data can be out of date as works are carried out on the stock and building elements continue to deteriorate. It is vital that there is a system in place to update this data to ensure that it remains valid and reflective of the properties which it relates to. The asset management system needs to allow updates to be implemented from a desktop and from on-site data capture. The process needs to be simple and easy to follow, in order to encourage its use and by ensuring it is a continuous process the data will evolve and change with the stock.

This evolution of the data changes it from being reflective of a fixed point in time to becoming an asset management tool that not only provides a picture of the current condition of the properties but also what the future intentions are of the operating landlord.

A stock condition survey is considered to have a shelf life of approximately 5 years, after which, the data needs refreshed and a new core dataset produced. If the data has been updated and reviewed during its life, then the new core dataset should simply reinforce what will already be a sound and robust asset management plan.