Strategic Review, Walbrook Group

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  • Walbrook HA was founded in 1966 as a charity.
  • They provided a wide range of accommodation and associated services to over 12,000 people.
  • Walbrook Group, the parent organisation, was a leading provider of housing and care services in Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
  • They have now merged with Rushcliffe Housing Association to form the Ashridge Group, which is part of the Metropolitan Housing Trust.

What did our client need?

  • Our client commissioned a review of ‘back office’ services and their operational contributions.
  • In particular they wanted to look at efficiency and effectiveness, and the cost of support functions.
  • We reviewed support functions and staffing resources in: administrative & clerical support; health & safety; HR; facilities management; finance; insurance; IT; legal; PR; procurement; and quality & performance.

How did we help?

  • We interviewed the section heads of support functions to clarify their roles, activities, service delivery and relationships with operational heads.
  • Through one-to-one meetings with senior operational managers we redefined the company’s operational support requirements.
  • We also benchmarked against comparable housing associations for arrangements and costs.
  • We used questionnaires and an agreement to share results with participating organisations.

What challenges did we face?

  • Improving support functions (some even seen as obstructive) to meet operational managers�?? needs.
  • We identified twenty-five problematic matters and discussed these in detail with the Chief Executive.  We submitted fourteen recommendations to improve overall effectiveness and encouraged support staff to identify more closely overall performance.
  • Helping staff to see how their roles contribute to organisational success.
  • We used performance management, with a structure of appraisal and target-setting, improved communications and periodic market testing of certain functions.

What benefits did our client gain?

  • We objectively assessed current processes, targeting problem areas; identifying and evaluating solutions.
  • Our onsite presence made the project reassuringly open, making it easier to hold progress meetings.
  • Staff-members accepted our neutrality and welcomed the professional review as a chance to discuss issues and problems, and to identify improvements.

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