Challenge

The UK is in a housing crisis. With too few homes in the right places and ever-increasing house prices and rents, it’s time for a radical change in the way we provide housing. As the Government’s housing accelerator, Homes England is tasked with playing a bigger role in the housing market, intervening where the market is failing to support the government’s mission of delivering 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s and help more people get on the housing ladder.

To achieve this, Homes England has been on a journey to become an exemplar 21st-century public service delivery organisation. From October 2017 to August 2019, FutureGov worked with Homes England to co-design and foster transformation across the organisation, working together to help them achieve their ambitious goal through an agile and design-led delivery approach to change.

FutureGov has been central to the creation of Homes England. The public sector needs the capability to build 21st-century organisations.

Nick Walkley

CEO

Approach

The transformation programme covered three key strands:

  • organisation design and change - building strong change capability and uniform approach and management to change across the organisation
  • service design - driving the ambition to take a user-centred approach to change, led by service design
  • technology and data strategy - fostering a new approach to digital technology and data in the organisation, from diagnostic to team leadership, restructure and growth, alongside strategy development and support to the creation of a significant business case for change

Infusing FutureGovers into the Homes England team, we actively involved people across the organisation in new ways of working and established a consistent approach to digital and design-led change across the organisation. Embedding a 25 person digital and design team alongside the existing technology team, we provided interim senior leadership roles including Chief Digital Officer (CDO), Delivery Director, Head of Service Design, Head of Research, Head of Data and Head of Change Management.

Our agile change programme replaced a traditional waterfall change programme. Together we started to create an open learning culture, encouraging people to share their work, make decisions in the open and share lessons, and engage staff at every level through new approaches such as discoveries, show & tells and 2-week sprint rhythms across all aspects of change. Instead of just talking about change, we helped people experience it.

Under the leadership of the CDO, FutureGov tested a new delivery structure within the digital and change teams, supporting its expansion to over 100 roles, embedding agile ways of working and design-led approaches beginning with the digital team, before widening to the change team and wider organisation. To ensure sustainability, together FutureGov and Homes England put in place a “recruit to replace” process to ensure a continuation of this work following the end of our engagement.

Additional projects included:

Digital Maturity Assessment

As our first engagement, FutureGov assessed digital and change maturity across the organisation, engaging with over 400 Homes England staff across nine localities. It was complemented with interviews with 22 external Homes England stakeholders from small to large developers, registered providers and local authorities. Through this work, we set out a clear digital vision and design with three recommendations:

  • be end-user centred
  • be more deliberate
  • build digital capacity

End-user centred

We led a discovery to understand how internal stakeholders and external partners experience working with the organisation. Identifying pain points and opportunities to improve, we helped Homes England understand their services and reframe them in a customer-centred way, helping move to clearly articulated customer-facing services that reflect the needs of users.

Funding process

Employee experience

We looked at current staff journeys to understand the employee experience, from onboarding to offboarding across 400 staff. By understanding employee needs, we developed a business case demonstrating savings gains to introduce new collaborative technology and ways of working. We refocused the organisation’s approach to onboarding new starters, rolling out new tools to support this process.

Land & investment

Our research has helped Homes England understand the need to change the way services are delivered. Conducting land and investment service redesigns, involving over 200 Homes England staff, we mapped user journeys for all different user groups, including business and partner needs. The insights led to 88 recommendations for the Land, Investment and Affordable Housing Programme, and 15 recommendations for organisational culture. Homes England are now embarking on the journey to clarifying their services, helping them rethink how they are set up to approach service delivery.

Homes england delivery

Future technology, data strategy and delivery

FutureGov and partners led a technical discovery to identify technology gaps and risks. Going beyond technical applications, the discovery considered high-quality service design, data-driven decision-making, a future proof technical architecture and ways of working that enable the new operating model. It identified over 175 applications creating a web of complexity.

We developed a technology strategy including data pipeline, cloud data warehouse and application environment cloud reporting and analytics, IaaS, SoA, document storage and API Gateway. The strategy has been written and agreed in principle, which forms part of the overall Digital Strategy for the organisation and future business case for change.

From the technology strategy, we also supported product build and conducted the groundwork which led to Microsoft 365 being rolled out for collaboration across the organisation. We also introduced a Head of Data role at Homes England, who is standing up a data team. As part of this, we scoped user and business needs around external partner data, laying the groundwork for better tools and systems.

Digital dashboard

Capability building

To build digital and design capability within the teams at Homes England, we delivered a bespoke learning curriculum within the digital and change teams. This capability building approach focused on developing practical, applicable skills and leadership that can be deployed across the organisation, creating opportunities to evolve and meet user needs.

Impact

Working together with Homes England, we’ve been able to understand and start addressing the unique challenges to transform the organisation. Rethinking how services are delivered and described, putting people at the centre and enabling staff to join this journey have all been significant in starting to change the organisation.

By co-designing this approach, many teams now work in agile rhythms and adopt service design methods. By restructuring and reorienting the role of the digital team, the team is better able to work more collaboratively with colleagues across the agency as an enabler of change.

By the end of the engagement, we held responsibility for running all major digital programmes and the agency’s transformation programme and put in place the capabilities and plans for long term sustainability for change. Establishing and recruiting to the new roles of Service Design and Transformation Director, Delivery Director and Chief Digital and Information Officer have embedded change at the most senior levels of the organisation thanks to the strong support of the agency’s CEO during this period. By reviewing the “as is”, not just for technology but for organisational structure and methods, Homes England has an understanding of the challenges and opportunities like never before. This has translated into a series of costed options for change based on strong insight and a clear vision and strategy for transformation.

A strong foundation is now in place for leadership to scale design-led approaches for the whole organisation and continue building a 21st-century exemplar organisation, ready and able to disrupt the UK housing market.

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