Something we can always count on in life is change. And the world of social value is no different. Whether it’s stricter procurement legislation, the new WELLBY approach to wellbeing, or a global pandemic shaking up our priorities, social value has undergone some big developments in recent years.
And even for housing associations – whose whole existence revolves around generating social value – keeping up can be difficult. The challenge lies in measuring and reporting the impact you’re having. How do you capture the essence of all the social good you do when the goalposts of social value measurement are always changing?
It’s only natural that your approach will have to evolve. But how do you know when to start exploring your options? Today, we’re looking at three big signs it’s time to switch up your social value solution.
You’re having to shoe horn measures
Building the full picture of your HA’s social impact requires visibility of every action. But when you’re trapped in a restrictive, inflexible solution, this is easier said than done.
Social value looks different to every organisation and community. Reducing carbon, homelessness, and boosting employment are pretty standard measures that most frameworks will cover. But you also want the freedom to get creative about your priorities. And how you plan to give back to your tenants and local communities.
You might start hosting drop-in sessions to educate local residents on ways to combat rising energy costs. But if your existing framework doesn’t have this measure or one similar, how can you track the social impact it’s having? Do you miss it out of your reports entirely? Or do you force it to fit into a different measure and risk the calculations being unreliable and inaccurate?
At a time where people are demanding more transparency from organisations, neither of these are ideal. So whether you’re using a rigid, third-party framework or have grown out of something you built in-house, take it as a sign. Rather than sacrificing data integrity, or having significant gaps in your reporting, start looking for alternative solutions.
It’s eating into staff time and resources
Many organisations take a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset when it comes to their social value solution. It’s an argument we hear a lot from organisations who still use ad-hoc spreadsheets. You can use them to visualise your social value (just about), so why not keep things as they are?
With housing budgets tight, it’s understandable why some associations think this way. But what about when your inefficient process starts eating into your staff’s time and resources? When it actually wastes your money and holds you back from unlocking further funding? If this is the case for you, it’s definitely time to look at investing in a more robust solution.
The same can be said for using a patchwork system of tools. You could keep your social value data siloed off in different platforms. But imagine how much easier your staff’s lives would be if everything was in one organised place.
Social value software can perform nearly all your data admin in a more efficient, reliable way. And in doing so, it frees up your team’s time to focus on bigger responsibilities, like developing new services, speaking with local residents, or responding to tenant concerns.
You’re stuck at the surface level
You’ve offset 3,000 tonnes of carbon by installing solar panels on many of your homes. 800 people are now off the streets and in secure, stable housing. And to top it all off, you’ve launched an employment skills initiative at the local community centre that helps 2,500 local residents every year.
This is all great work. And they’re incredibly valuable insights. But they only tell half the story. By focusing too much on the outputs of your actions, you overlook the real human impact your efforts have had.
To have a deeper understanding of your impact, and to prove your full value to housing regulators, you’re going to want qualitative insight. Not just pounds and pence figures. And you want a social value solution that makes gathering these impactful stories simple.
By capturing the tangible outcomes of your efforts, you can inject human stories into your reporting. Speak with tenants directly to hear how your interventions changed their lives. And weave these quotes and stories into your reports to show regulators and funding bodies that you’re committed to putting the community’s needs front and centre.
Nobody can predict how the world of social value will evolve over the coming years. But we can confidently say that it’s only going to become more important to your organisation’s daily operations. So if any of these challenges resonate with you, now might be the perfect time to start exploring your options.
Impact is an intelligent, framework-independent platform for all things social value. Decentralised data capture, automated conversions, and impressive survey functionality make it easy to prove your impact, make better decisions, and continue to change lives. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.