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Adding Value to a Stock Condition Survey

A stock condition survey is often seen as a stand alone piece of work. Commissioned by a landlord to identify the current condition of their properties and to provide a 30 year investment plan based on the surveyor’s recommendations. Outputs from these surveys are typically a Survey Report, a series of spreadsheets identifying future spend priorities and a copy of the survey data in either paper or electronic format. How do you add value to this process? How do you enhance your service offering whilst keeping your costs down and giving you best possible opportunity to engage with your client on a long term partnership?

  • Efficiency – clients always want their surveys completed yesterday! It is a rare treat to be given a relaxed timescale to deliver a survey with no pressure from other stakeholders all eager to see the results of the process. It is important therefore that you are able to react quickly once instructed and that the time from survey to finished report is as short as possible. Clients are keen to see survey results as soon as they start rolling in and so with the use of data capture software and associated survey reporting tools this can be achieved very quickly giving clients piece of mind that progress is being made and ensuring “buy in” to the final survey results.
  • Data is Power – In addition to the Survey Report and associated spreadsheets, many clients want access to the survey data as well. How this is provided can influence the decision making process when considering who to appoint and so it is crucial that the data is accessible and as transparent as possible. Providing a data file of all the survey information is one way but the real benefit comes when the data is linked directly into the survey outputs giving the client a live, interactive basis to carry out strategic planning, financial modeling and ongoing investment programming. This link between data capture and asset management software is where the real power of the data is shown.
  • What next? – Once the survey is finished and the reports are handed over, there is an opportunity to continue the engagement with the client to assist them in using, maintaining and updating this data. Getting the client to understand the real benefits of adopting asset management software linked to data capture should become self evident and the Surveyor can control the level of access given to the client on a “try before you buy” basis. Once in use, the Surveyor is ideally placed to be the main point of contact for the client for all future enhancements or development of this data and ongoing survey work.
  • Trust – Business is all about relationships and if a client trusts your opinion and respects your work then you are more likely to develop a long term relationship that will lead to further opportunities. By demonstrating your ability and fostering an open approach to the sharing of data and information, the client will feel engaged in the process and more inclined to fully trust the outputs. By providing a comprehensive data collection through to asset management process, the client is able to see and understand each stage and their relationship to one another

The right technology plays a vital role in ensuring you are able to Add Value to the survey work you do and in the current competitive marketplace, any additional benefits you can offer could be difference between winning a project or coming a close second. The stock condition survey should not been seen as a single piece of work but rather the start of a long term relationship. 

 

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Getting Value for Money from your Data

Collecting data is an expensive business. Whether it is via an external appointed stock condition surveyor or by using in-house resources, it takes time and money to build up a large dataset from which to develop a suitably robust asset management strategy.

It is therefore important to ensure that you are getting the best value out of the data you hold and this falls into two key areas:

  • Optimize the way in which the data is interrogated and
  • Extend the life of your data

If your survey template has been well constructed and sampled you should have a hugely valuable dataset from which to work. However, having the data is one thing, analyzing and making sense of it is another and so you need to ensure that your asset management software has the capability to produce the type of analysis and reports that meet your needs. Most systems will have a number of pre-set reports based on the developers understanding of what the end user requires. It is important though that the Developer has a knowledge and understanding of the sector and is able to develop appropriately targeted outputs. Many software providers fall into the trap of “more is better” and create hugely complex and varied reporting tools that show off their Developing skills but which are of limited use to the end user.

To get the most out of your data, the system needs to be flexible enough to allow users to specify the parameters but intuitive enough to avoid unduly complex and time consuming user input. Simplicity is the key here but do not confuse simplicity with inferior or unsophisticated as it is entirely possible to carry out complex and powerful analysis and associated outputs without overwhelming the user with IT speak. Ensure your Developer knows your sector, speak to other users and be clear about what you want from your asset management system.

By its nature, a stock condition survey is a snapshot in time of what the properties were like when the survey was carried out. One month on and that data can be out of date as works are carried out on the stock and building elements continue to deteriorate. It is vital that there is a system in place to update this data to ensure that it remains valid and reflective of the properties which it relates to. The asset management system needs to allow updates to be implemented from a desktop and from on-site data capture. The process needs to be simple and easy to follow, in order to encourage its use and by ensuring it is a continuous process the data will evolve and change with the stock.

This evolution of the data changes it from being reflective of a fixed point in time to becoming an asset management tool that not only provides a picture of the current condition of the properties but also what the future intentions are of the operating landlord.

A stock condition survey is considered to have a shelf life of approximately 5 years, after which, the data needs refreshed and a new core dataset produced. If the data has been updated and reviewed during its life, then the new core dataset should simply reinforce what will already be a sound and robust asset management plan.

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
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