Having one version of the truth and putting data at the heart of our decision making is really important. What we also wanted to achieve is to get the right information to the right people when they need it. Qlik certainly helps us to deliver that.– Head of Analytics and
Customer Story: Anita Wright – Onward Homes
Learn how Onward Homes moved from static Excel-based reporting to deep understanding of rent arrears, void properties – and more – through interactive Qlik Sense dashboards.
Onward Homes owns and manages around 35,000 homes in the northwest of England. Operating across three different regions, in Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, Onward Homes work with 60 neighbourhoods and across 29 different local authorities.
Their vision is to make a positive difference in the communities they serve. Their aim is to deliver high-quality homes and first-class services that make a difference to the people who live in their neighbourhoods.
Watch the video below to hear from Anita Wright, Head of Analytics and Insight about their analytics journey. Or read on for an in-depth case study.
Watch their Customer Success Story
Why Onward Homes Chose Perfect Image As Their Solution Provider
We have a great relationship with all of the PI team. They keep us up to date on new developments and are always there to help and suggest ways to use Qlik (and more recently Alteryx) to enhance our current reporting, or to develop new dashboards and solve problems. It definitely feels like a partnership approach rather than just a customer/supplier relationship. Head of Analytics and Insight, Anita Wright
Challenges & Goals
Onward Homes is an organisation made up of five smaller organisations merged into one, causing a number of significant data challenges they needed to overcome:
- A lot of complex data about properties, customers, performance, and more to analyse and report on.
- Disparate data locked in different data systems and datasets.
- The use of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for reporting was not able to provide the level of insights they needed.
- A distrust in the quality of data and had no explanation for outliers and exceptions.
The goals they wanted to achieve included:
- Work from one version of the truth.
- Move from reporting and presenting data, to self-service analytics and insights.
- Improve data quality.
- Better insights and easier analysis.
- Dashboards: overviews for senior managers down to the details for operational teams.
- Better user interface to improve engagement with analytics.
Choosing an Analytics Solution & Solution Provider
After Onward Homes decided to replace Excel with a more robust analytics solution, they conducted a full procurement exercise and tender process. Through this process they chose Qlik as their solution.
Head of Analytics and Insight, Anita Wright, says: “Qlik really delivered all of our requirements. We particularly liked the Qlik community, the fact that Qlik supports understanding of data governance and quality – and of course the visualisations and other reporting functionality. We were also keen to move to a cloud-based approach which Qlik (and Perfect Image) were able to facilitate.”
Onward Homes chose Perfect Image as their solution provider.
Anita explains why: “We really connected with the Perfect Image team, particularly Clint [Account Manager] and Simon [Head of Business Intelligence], and felt they would be colleagues we could work well with.”
Would Onward Homes Recommend Qlik & Perfect Image
I would definitely recommend Qlik as a product and would not hesitate to recommend Perfect Image to others, especially to other colleagues in housing. Their experience and knowledge is invaluable when getting started with a new project like this. Head of Analytics and Insight, Anita Wright
Qlik Sense Implementation
During implementation, Anita was pleased with the service provided by the Perfect Image team.
“Communications were clear, we really liked the agile project approach, and they worked closely with us to provide us with the relevant knowledge and skills to become self-sufficient.”
Onward Homes were supported every step of the way by Perfect Image who provided consultancy, training, and ongoing support.
“Our team have very quickly picked up the software which reflects the quality of the training and support provided. As well face to face training sessions, we also had remote sessions.”
Tips for Analytics Project Success:
Here are some tips for project success from Onward Homes’ experience:
- Create a data strategy, to understand the business’s needs and how analytics and insights can support that. In Onward Homes’ case they developed a ‘data vision’ and some strategic objectives.
- Get senior management or an executive in your organisation supporting this. The Deputy CEO was on board as an ambassador for performance reporting.
- Adopt a project approach. Onward Homes focused on three strands: systems (the implementation of the analytics solution and integration with other systems), data (to ensure it is high quality), and people (training, roles, communication).
- Limit the number of professional users and experts. It gives you a level of control over the dashboards and how they are used.
- Focus on a specific business area first, then expand. Don’t try to implement analytics across all areas of your business in one go.
Of the support received during the project, Anita says: “The majority of our training and consultancy has been provided by Simon who is extremely knowledgeable about Qlik and how we can use it. Having a background in housing means he understands what we are looking to achieve.”
How to Ensure a Successful Analytics Project
Benefits: Go-To Place for Planning, Forecasting, Analysis & Insight.
Onward Homes’ Qlik solution is their go-to place for reporting and information. It is a single interface for planning, forecasting, dashboards, analysis and insight.
“Having one version of the truth and putting data at the heart of our decision making is really important. What we also wanted to achieve is to get the right information to the right people when they need it. Qlik certainly helps us to deliver that.”
Other benefits include:
- A huge improvement in value and insights over what was possible when reporting previously in Excel.
- Improved data quality – they can more easily understand why they have any data quality issues like outliers or exceptions which they find very important.
- Instead of waiting for complex Excel spreadsheets to refresh, the dashboards update overnight from their data warehouse.
- Easily provide visualisations, reports and dashboards to their users
- A very user-friendly interface that has improved engagement
- The reports range from high-level strategic overviews, to very detailed operational information.
- Added value and insights over Excel – new types of charts and visualisations and geospatial/mapping functionality
Perfect Image’s ongoing analytics support
Perfect Image has partnered with Onward Homes to ensure their analytics solution continues delivering value, and to help them extend and develop their solution going forwards.
Anita says of the ongoing support: “We have a great relationship with all of the PI team. They keep us up to date on new developments and are always there to help and suggest ways to use Qlik (and more recently Alteryx) to enhance our current reporting, or to develop new dashboards and solve problems. It definitely feels like a partnership approach rather than just a customer/supplier relationship.”
A Quick Tour of Onward Homes’ Dashboards
Feedback from Onward Homes Colleagues About Using Qlik
Some of Onward Homes’ colleagues share their thoughts on the move to using Qlik:
“I like how I can easily get from headline position to operational details.”
“I love using Qlik as it means I can include new functionality in my reports.”
“Dashboards are updated overnight so it’s great to have the latest information when I log in.”
“The Qlik dashboards allow me to understand what’s going on in my area, meaning I can manage performance more effectively.”
“Qlik has really helped us access information quickly, easily and all in one place. The visuals are great!”
Onward Homes’ Plans for Future
Even with their successes so far with gaining business insights, the Onward Homes team are excited for the next stages of their analytics journey, which include:
Extend reporting to different business areas
Rolling out Qlik into out to other business areas to enable them to gain value from analytics. Also incorporating new and different datasets for a deeper understanding of customers and properties.
“Qlik dashboards are giving people an understanding of what’s going on in their area, so they can manage performance effectively.”
Improve customer retention
Developing a ‘tenancy sustainably model.’ They will incorporate customer feedback from social media and surveys and incorporate that into reporting to see why customers leave and find ways of improving retention.
“It really helps our operational team to have more insight and to then take action.”
More geospatial analytics
Improve mapping usage to extend information. By using more geospatial analytics using Qlik GeoAnalytics they can analyse risks, and whether buildings are listed or within conservation areas. This helps them when identifying new development sites.
Extend advanced analytics
Forecasting and predicting future performance based on historical data by investing in Alteryx software. By doing this for repairs they will be able to analyse trends with certain types of property (by type or age) or similar repairs, to become more proactive and efficient.
Anita says: “Clint has supported us as we have requested more licences and explored new products such as Alteryx and he is always keen to keep in touch to ensure things are progressing as planned.”
Share analytics externally
Sharing their rich data with customers and contractors. With Qlik the users can dig into their relevant region, area or neighbourhoods. This will personalise and add value to the service Onward Homes provides.
Anita concludes: “I would definitely recommend Qlik as a product and would not hesitate to recommend Perfect Image to others, especially to other colleagues in housing. Their experience and knowledge is invaluable when getting started with a new project like this.”
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