Osborne Talks about Planning Ahead for Asset Management

In the week Inside Housing publishes its asset management supplement landlords still have much to learn. Will Hughes, Customer Excellence Director at Osborne Property Services gave ‘Inside Housing’ his views.

A conservative estimate of the raw pound note value of UK social housing stock assets shows it is worth at least £750bn in the UK. In reality, it is likely much more. As a result, surely as a sector we should be at the cutting-edge of asset management capabilities?

Our experience at Osborne is that this is not yet the case. We recognise the crucial importance of excellent asset management to social landlords and, as a result, have been active members of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) for the past five years. Although social landlords have taken several steps towards becoming expert asset managers, they lag behind the more detailed approach taken in other sectors such as energy production and transport, where assets attain a greater level of average maturity.

Our work with the IAM has shown us that, if modern asset management standards are implemented, organisations can expect to see perhaps a 20% reduction in the lifetime costs of assets. So what are the key lessons for social landlords?

The standards are, by their nature, sophisticated and broad reaching, covering many scenarios, methods and techniques. However, the basic principles are simple to grasp and implement. Yet, in the main, social housing has not yet fully grasped them.

Firstly, assets aren’t simply stock! The assets are also the people who live in the property, the rent they pay and the enclosing ‘place’ or community they are a part of. According to the IAM, asset management isn’t so much ‘doing things to stock’ as ‘using the total asset to achieve the organisation’s aims’ and add value.

Few will deny the various functional ‘silos’ that exist in various guises are part of our landscape and history; developments, housing and property maintenance. The great performers in asset management are those who have eradicated the silos.

Secondly, it is worth highlighting that ‘people’ do asset management and so their skills, motivation and direction all need to be aligned to a common vision for the organisation. Technologies and systems, while helpful, are no substitute for clarity of leadership.

Finally, truly effective asset management is a long-term venture that needs long-term budgeting.Yet how many organisations regularly produce annual budgets driven by short-term necessity rather than long-term goals?

The true leaders in asset management are honest in their assessment of short and long-term consequences of decisions, rather than perhaps just today’s or tomorrow’s performance figures.

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