As Assistant Director Transformation at Westward Housing Group, Mick Capern was keen to be one of the first in the social housing sector to undertake the new ICT Good Governance Assessment from Golden Marzipan. With an eye on consistent evolution, he felt the maturity tool would provide some invaluable insights, particularly around data management, that would help inform future improvements.

Describing himself as someone that has “data quality as part of his DNA”, Mick Capern is an experienced transformation and ICT professional with a solid grasp on ICT governance. He says: “Whilst ICT governance is broader than just data, I believe that data sits at the heart of everything as there’s no point having a fantastic infrastructure if your data is rubbish.  

“Many housing associations take data seriously, but some underestimate it’s value. Whilst it’s right to use data from a risk or compliance perspective, many still overlook what accurate data can do and how it can be used to inform operational and strategic decisions. Many exec teams still make decisions on a gut feel and not data-led insight.

“We’ve done a lot of work on the quality of data at Westward Housing having considered the Five Steps to Data Maturity Model. Whilst we thought that we were in a better place than most, we were looking for some sort of accreditation or indicator that provides an impartial picture of where we are. The Good Governance Assessment provides that tool, so we were keen to try it out.”

ICT assessment test

Around 12 Westward Housing colleagues took part in the assessment. Colleagues of various seniority represented different parts of the business to ensure they captured a rounded and accurate picture of where things were at. In addition to data management, the assessment also reviews; strategy, value for money and business alignment; ICT service management; programme and project management; resources, partnerships, and procurement; and risk management and business continuity.

ICT Good Governance Assessment looks at six specific areas of ICT provision
The assessment provides housing associations with feedback on six key areas of ICT Governance

Mick adds: “The assessment reaffirmed where we thought we were, but it also highlighted some differences of opinion between colleagues and a lack of understanding in some areas. It was interesting to see the differential in what people thought as some thought we were better than we are and vice versa.  More often it demonstrated that people aren’t seeing what we’re doing to improve things, so we need to get better at communication. It also identified areas for improvement, and this was invaluable.”

As a result of the assessment Westward Housing were able to pull together an action plan for improvement based on the areas where they scored medium to low. Their CEO, Barbara Shaw is also keen to run the assessment again in 12 months to measure the impact of any plans and investment.

“I’d definitely recommend the assessment to other housing associations” says Mick. “But it’s essential to have a range of stakeholders to complete it to ensure you capture an accurate picture of where your business is at and it’s not just one person’s view. The assessment provides you with a benchmark and a framework to identify improvements in a broad range of key areas. The housing sector could really benefit from this as there is a real disparity between RP’s approaches.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the ICT Good Governance Assessment and how it could benefit your organisation, get in touch for an informal chat. Email steve@goldenmarzipan.co.uk or call us on 0333 210 7531

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