Surviving an IDA pilot

Wakefield & District HousingWith our G1-V1 status we were very keen at WDH to put ourselves forward as one of the 10 registered providers to undergo the HCA’s pilot in-depth assessments (IDAs).

This approach, which is the HCA’s new way of assessing providers with 1,000 homes or more, gave us the chance to rigorously test the important areas of governance and viability.

Our assessment started with the notification and scope at the end of April, desktop review ‘preliminary work’ during May, on-site talking to senior managers and Board members undertaking ‘detailed fieldwork’ in June, and feedback ‘reporting and closure’ in July.  This was 79 days in total.

We created a system to manage the IDA in the most effective way possible, including:

  • Understanding the scope of the task at hand.
  • Engaging the Board and other relevant people.
  • Managing the request list, allocating responsibilities and setting up an easily understood and shared template.
  • Being very clear on the timescales required and managing information flow to meet the deadlines.
  • Being prepared for the results and feeding back to the rest of the business.
  • Learning and improving as a result of the experience.

What did we learn?

You need to create a team that knows your business, always responds to deadlines and answers the questions!

You should also prepare for the unexpected. This could be key players missing at vital times, information retrieval left wanting, working on different systems, and with different people. In short, make sure your records are up to date.

We know that to have effective governance we cannot stand still and have an action plan to implement the outcomes.  Since the IDA we have reviewed some of our key governing documents, adopted a revised Code of Governance and are undertaking a Board skills and effectiveness review.

So will you be prepared for the HCA to delve into your organisation? What does it include and what do you need to know?

WDH’s IDA in numbers:

  • 57 initial requests.
  • 78 documents were originally submitted.
  • 1,682 pages were submitted.
  • 19 follow up questions from the assessors.
  • 11 clarifications were needed.
  • 79 days from starting to finishing the IDA.

 WDH’s IDA Top Ten Tips:

  1. Embrace the process and treat it positively – it is helpful consultancy!
  2. Brief your Board and relevant employees in advance.
  3. Make sure you have the right people with the right skills, who know where to find things!
  4. Nominate a project lead and roles. A lot of information is needed and you need a coordinator and team to ensure this is managed effectively.
  5. Accurate record keeping is essential and even more so during the IDA. Make sure yours are up to date, accessible and stored correctly.
  6. Keep to deadlines.
  7. Prepare for the unexpected – unplanned things may also need to be dealt with alongside the IDA.
  8. Learn and improve from the findings and feedback.
  9. Identify tangible outcomes, take it back to the business and update your Business Plan.
  10. Never become complacent – keep raising your standards.

Kevin Dodd is Chief Executive of WDH, which owns over 31,000 properties in the Wakefield district.

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