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How to make result-oriented collaboration with maintenance partners a success

May 17, 2022

The so-called ‘Result-Oriented Collaboration’ method (or ‘RGS’ in Dutch) has become an integral part of the Dutch housing association industry. And that is not surprising: the painting and maintenance industry already started with a specific quality assurance approach about 20 to 25 years ago, which eventually led to the publication of a ‘Handbook of Result-Oriented Collaboration with investing and maintaining properties’ in 2013, a Dutch guideline on how to work together in a result-oriented way.

With Result-Oriented Collaboration, quality agreements are made about the end result with maintenance partners, which gives them more freedom to think along about how to implement maintenance as efficiently and effectively as possible. This way, there's emphasis on constructive collaboration, instead of conflicting interests.

This approach is no longer a luxury, but it is much needed in view of the major challenges housing associations face. Let alone if housing associations wish to modernize, such as implementing the use of predictive maintenance.

Why Result-Oriented Collaboration?

Challenges are piling up for housing associations. Result-Oriented Collaboration is therefore an answer to challenges like these:

  1. Maintenance must remain affordable and therefore be deployed efficiently. And of course, there must be as little inconvenience as possible for the tenant.
  2. Ambitious sustainability targets have been set by virtually all housing associations. In practice, it is most efficient to combine this with natural maintenance moments. But how can these be easily identified and planned?
  3. Housing shortage is a huge ongoing problem and the call for housing associations to create more houses is growing continuously.
  4. Liveability of neighborhoods is under pressure. How can the deterioration of neighborhoods effectively be countered?
  5. Circularity is becoming more important: how can we reuse existing materials in real estate portfolios?

And all this has to be done on a tight budget and with less available staff, which is quite the challenge.

Result-Oriented Collaboration helps solve these challenges more quickly. It taps into the expertise and manpower of maintenance partners to plan maintenance and sustainability initiatives together more efficiently.

Process change, mindset change

Result-Oriented Collaboration has been implemented for a while now. But does it work? This is a question housing associations regularly ask themselves. A change in process does not just happen, it also requires a change in mindset.

Yet we see many enthusiastic reactions from the field: maintenance partners are happy that they can add more value from their expertise and can enter into long-term relationships. Housing associations have noticed that maintenance costs are lower, while the quality of maintenance has increased.

Challenges of Result-Oriented Collaboration

But we're not there yet. We work with many Housing associations that apply result-oriented collaboration in their daily practice and often see some recurring obstacles. We’ve divided them into 4 categories: Data, Mindset, Tooling and Process.

1. The Data challenge: data (processes) are not in order.

A precondition for Result-Oriented Collaboration to actually succeed is to have your data in order. Problems that we often encounter in practice are:

  • The same data is measured several times by different parties, often with different results. This is not only inefficient, but also leads to endless discussions: who has the right measurements?
  • This brings us to the next point: different parties measure the same buildings several times because they only trust their own data and way of measuring. What does it take to cultivate this trust?
  • Data is scattered in different places and in different programs. The consequence? An endless back and forth of spreadsheets, resulting in data pollution.
  • Data is lacking: to be able to carry out proper maintenance, a good understanding of the state of the property is required. This is quite a challenge for large real estate portfolios. It is simply not possible to inspect every complex.

2. The Tooling challenge: tooling should make your life easier, not more complicated.

We still see a lack of use of good tooling in the field. This often stems from the reluctance to implement new tooling in existing IT landscapes, as many tools refuse to work together. When choosing a tool, it is important to look closely at how the tool can be linked to other tools.

3. This brings us to The Mindset challenge.

Once you have chosen Result-Oriented Collaboration, it is important that everyone in the organization understands the importance of this way of working, in order to get everyone on the same page. Why does the organization choose Result-Oriented Collaboration? What kind of consequences does this have for day-to-day work? And why is this going to make everyone's life easier? We still see resistance to a process change often enough, which puts the success of the implementation of Result-Oriented Collaboration on the line.

4. The Process challenge: where traditionally project-based work is the norm, Result-Oriented Collaboration requires a much more integrated approach.

For example, achieving sustainability goals is closely linked to maintenance cycles. People from different teams need to work closer together to tackle the many challenges. This can also mean closer collaboration with external partners with specialist knowledge.

How to solve these challenges?

Although Result-Oriented Collaboration has been around for some time in The Netherlands, the search for the best possible application continues. There is also no single golden ticket that makes everything better, but there are tips/solutions that can push the success of RGS in the right direction.

To start with the data challenge: the core of the answer to this challenge lies in storing complete, accurate and up-to-date real estate data in 1 place. This is an enormous task, especially for housing associations with a large real estate portfolio, and often not one that housing associations can solve themselves. Tools like Spotr can help with this. By making (visual) data enriched with AI available, all parties can work with confidence from 1 source of truth.

Tooling is frustration point for many housing associations. For example, when one tool does not work together with another tool, it creates a 'lock-in' effect. One thing is certain: there is no 1 tool that has all the answers to making Result-Oriented Collaboration successful. An important point to consider is whether tooling can integrate well with other tools. After all, good tech works together, not alone.

Which brings us to the mindset and process challenge. These are often closely linked. People can oppose change if they don't see the point of it, but at the same time strong processes can help with a change in behavior, which in turn can lead to a mindset shift. This quickly becomes a chicken or the egg dilemma. What is certain is that when people see the success of a new process/way of working, it becomes easier to change people's mindset. Starting off with a small pilot project can be a first step in the right direction.

What possibilities can correct data bring?

We say that good data is a precondition for the success of Result-Oriented Collaboration for a reason. It is not just about the data hygiene itself. As soon as there is complete, accurate and up-to-date information in one place, it opens the door to many new possibilities. Instead of just maintenance planning, you can also start answering more strategic questions, such as how can I more easily predict maintenance in the long term? At what ‘natural’ moments in time can I plan sustainability improvements & what sustainability possibilities are available in my portfolio? Where can we create more houses by, for example, upward extension? What about the liveability of our neighbourhoods? Where are risks or good investment opportunities in our real estate portfolio?

And all this with a lot less manpower. How to say no to that?