How to efficiently plan and manage a housing association project
Housing associations are a lifeline for the most vulnerable people in society. In addition to providing secure, affordable homes, they offer valuable services to the broader community – from registered care and sheltered accommodation to driving regeneration projects.
In England alone, housing associations are responsible for more than 4.4 million properties. Their management teams have a busy and varied workload, from planning and building affordable homes to repairing and renovating existing properties. Regular tasks include maintenance work, retrofitting heating, plumbing and electrical systems to ensure properties are safe and energy efficient, and adapting homes to the needs of users with physical disabilities.
All this work comes at a cost, however. And while demand for social housing has increased, funding has reduced. This situation has put housing associations – and the construction companies they contract – under pressure to deliver programmes on tighter budgets.
Fortunately, there are steps that building companies can take to manage housing association programmes more efficiently, using planning and project management software like Powerproject by Elecosoft.
Here are five ways in which construction firms can ensure they deliver housing association projects on time and within budget using Powerproject’s capabilities:
1. Plan project resources up-front
Tight budgets mean housing associations need to run lean construction projects. Making economic use of people, equipment and materials is critical to minimising outgoing costs.
The best way to avoid unnecessary spending is to plan project resources up-front, identifying time- and cost-saving opportunities. Project management software allows building companies to create detailed programmes during the planning stage, acquiring all materials and tradespeople within budget.
Powerproject features built-in budgeting and resource management tools to ensure building companies allocate time and materials efficiently. Our solution models cost using multiple data sources, including quantities, people hours and work rates.
Powerproject also helps construction companies to stay on track by analysing planned costs against actual spending. Tracking this data prevents unforeseen expenses from snowballing into a significant project overspending.
It can even help building companies exceed expectations: Durkan used Powerproject to deliver two out of four blocks ahead of schedule when building a 354-home scheme for Southern Housing Group.
2. Factor-in compliance checks
Housing association projects are subject to a wide range of regulations – from health and safety laws and building codes to environmental rules and tenant standards agreements. Failing to comply with these laws can result in complex, time-consuming and expensive reworks.
Project planning and management software enables building companies to factor in crucial compliance checks and meet all requirements. For example, Powerproject features include a Schedule Quality Check module that analyses programmes against industry or company standards to identify any areas of non-compliance.
Construction companies can either define their quality control parameters within Powerproject or use pre-configured industry metrics developed in partnership with the CIOB and DCMA.
3. Create clear lines of communication
Like any building project, housing association programmes involve multiple stakeholders – from contractors and subcontractors to local authorities and tenants. Communicating with everyone can be challenging, especially when building companies run numerous concurrent projects.
Construction management software makes communication a smoother, more transparent process by sharing information through a central platform.
A solution like Powerproject can store essential documentation and checklists digitally. Individual programmes can be extracted and shared so everyone can view their daily workload – even if they’re not licensed Powerproject users. This level of visibility cuts back on questions and reduces basic errors.
Stakeholders can also add progress reports to keep people from stopping work to attend update meetings. By enabling two-way communication, Powerproject keeps everyone on track and helps to resolve issues that could impact productivity.
For construction companies ready to level up their communications, Elecosoft has also recently launched Asta Connect – a lean construction collaboration tool.
4. Identify problems early on
One of the key concerns for housing associations is the impact of setbacks; contingency budgets can quickly disappear.
Digital project management software provides a real-time view of how programmes progress, identifying any timeline or budget slippage. It also helps to identify potential risks, such as labour shortages and missed milestones, which could cause schedules and costs to overrun.
Early detection is the best way to minimise overspending and limit the impact of setbacks on overall progress. Powerproject helps building companies to recognise issues quickly and mitigate risk from day one.
Watch now: an introduction to Powerproject and how to avoid common problems.
Powerproject’s built-in risk analysis tool identifies the tasks most likely to cause delays and overspending, helping construction companies closely track performance. Project managers monitor progress against the original project plan, highlighting missed milestones or major concerns.
When a problem occurs, project managers can use Powerproject to model ‘what if’ scenarios, finding the best method to overcome setbacks and accelerate delivery.
5. Make future maintenance easier to manage
While the initial brief may be building new homes, cost management is an ongoing concern for housing associations. Construction companies can use digital software to help not-for-profits to maintain buildings and make it easier to repair and replace structures, fixtures and fittings further down the line.
We’ve already mentioned how Powerproject’s Schedule Quality Check tool helps building firms meet housing association standards. In addition, Powerproject can provide further transparency by recording the materials and equipment used throughout new or renovated buildings.
When tradespeople need to perform repair or maintenance work, it’s easy to look up premises using Powerproject and check the original materials used, replacing them like-for-like. It can also help housing associations to create a scope of work if the law changes – we saw this issue when many UK high-rise tower blocks needed to replace their outer cladding following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
Powerproject ensures compliant, high-quality delivery of the initial project and good standards in subsequent maintenance programmes.
Delivering quality work on a stringent budget
For housing associations to continue providing vital services, building companies must find ways to deliver quality work on a stringent budget. This objective means seeking every opportunity to save on time, labour and materials and avoiding any setbacks that could result in spiralling costs.
Powerproject provides construction companies with the budgeting, collaboration, compliance, resource management and scheduling capabilities to run projects efficiently. It also creates a platform for maintaining high repair standards throughout the building lifecycle – so not-for-profit organisations like housing associations can provide safe, robust housing to people who need support.
Start your free 14-day Powerproject trial to see how our project management software streamlines costs without compromising delivery standards.