Battling the backlog: How landlords are addressing post-lockdown work-in-progress jobs
How is your organisation preparing to fulfil repair and maintenance work following the COVID-19 lockdown? Let's explore short-term tactics and long-term strategies to address work-in-progress (WIP) jobs in a post-lockdown environment.
As we see the market reacclimatise post a COVID-19 lockdown, housing providers and property managers are putting together pragmatic approaches to addressing both routine and emergency repairs.
In the short term, issues can arise within this process from simply having to organise and coordinate the backlog of repairs across your organisation. There will be resource constraints. Gaining access for maintenance and compliance work will also bear a risk.
We believe mitigating this risk will be important but - more immediately - regaining control of your supply chain, harnessing data across your portfolio and introducing agility into your procurement frameworks can make a big difference - between successfully navigating a building backlog or struggling to re-adjust service levels.
Addressing key WIP job challenges.
Our customer conversations have uncovered the challenges many operational teams are anticipating - issues in completing essential works, clearing the backlog and organising their systems, processes and people to complete unprecedented volumes of work. Here are the most salient issues we've identified.
1) Getting access.
Tenant reluctance to grant works access is impacting compliance activity and could result in a slower return to historical repair volumes.
2) Hidden repairs.
Many operations teams are not only concerned about their aged WIP, but repairs not currently recorded or raised - a problem of indeterminate size.
3) Capacity constraints.
Operational capacity to cope with addressing the upcoming backlog is a major concern, especially in light of staff furlough plans.
4) Flexibility & fluctuation.
The progressive easing of lockdown measures may be reneged. Many workforces - in house and outsourced - lack the flexibility to adapt to this.
How to adapt.
How can operational teams weather the storm and continue delivering great tenant services?
From our recent discussions with the largest, most progressive housing providers in the nation, we’ve learnt of some short term approaches that can help operational teams adapt to recent challenges.
One recurring theme from these discussions is better tenant communication - tailoring team-to-tenant communication and keeping tenants informed can facilitate access and the cooperation required for key safety work.
Another approach we have found effective is providing clear contractor guidelines. It will be essential for operational teams to ensure contractors follow a COVID-19 code-of-conduct - it will become crucial for service and safety. Communicating this will put your tenants at ease as well.
On this point, it will be effective to find flexibility by defining new ways-of-working with contractors. This will be key to anticipating capacity constraints, fluctuations in demand and anticipating any further lockdown measures.
In the short term, a lot can be mitigated by simply breaking down silos between internal teams and contractors. This allows issues and bottlenecks to be identified earlier and is crucial to addressing the backlog.
How to advance.
Here's a breakdown of what we believe will be essential to advancing operational delivery. For industry-leading insight into how each of these initiatives can help you, watch our complete webinar below - with speakers Neil Watts (Director of Service Delivery at Peabody), Cem Savas (CEO & Co-Founder, Plentific) and Nigel Sedman (Group Director of Homes, ForViva).