By Steve Ellard, Director of Assets, Yorkshire Housing.

Call it an asset management strategy or a strategic asset management plan, it doesn’t really matter – the objective is the same: to set your organisational objectives for the next three to five years in the ever-uncertain world of asset management.

Let me tell you, it’s not particularly difficult to write one –but it’s pretty difficult to write a good one. You can write one independently from the comfort of your own home office, but I suspect it wouldn’t be a good one. You could write like Hemingway and have the design skills of Jonny Ive, but that wouldn’t necessarily deliver an effective strategic plan.

Whilst it pains the creative individual in me to say this, when it comes to asset strategy, process and collaboration is important. Nay, it’s fundamental. So is challenge and constructive criticism; and, thankfully, we’ve had plenty of that.

Beyond Housing was created in October 2018 and last year we developed our first Strategic Asset Management Plan. It’s a document that supports our overarching business strategy. I’d describe the process of completing this strategic plan as intense, frustrating, and one of
the biggest learning curves I’ve had in my asset management career to date. I’d do it again tomorrow.

Over ten years ago I started working in asset management. I developed my first strategy in the halcyon year of 2014, which on reflection probably wasn’t a good one. After this amount of time there’s a tendency to think of yourself as an expert in the field. In fact, I’d convinced
myself I probably should be with a title such as Strategic Asset Manager.

Leave that ego at the door, though, friend. If this is going to be worth the paper it’s written on, expect more talking than typing. Expect more collaboration than individual creativity, and expect more persuasion than publishing. Consider it a journey with a number of stops. The train direct to Kings Cross this is not.

You could’ve spent years perfecting the integrity of your stock condition data. You could produce a financial forecast from your asset management system that relies on zero extrapolation and really accurate data. But if the pounds and pence you’re quoting don’t match directly to the figures that your finance team are providing for the life of the plan, then why bother?

Finance are your key allies when writing this strategy. Working well together and having trust in each other is imperative.

This is just one of many key relationships that need to blossom as your plan is in development. Health and safety, maintenance, development, compliance, sustainability and facilities are others that you’ll want to align your objectives with.

But there’s one relationship that separates the good plans from the excellent ones – and that’s executive leadership. It’s so important that I intend to dedicate an entire instalment to it. But I’ll save that one for later.

There are some key themes that I’ll explore over the forthcoming editions from a, shall we say, practitioner’s perspective. We’ll explore the key priorities, key sections and key challenges of a strategic plan. That said, it’d be somewhat hypocritical of me to assume that’s how I can make these instalments most useful.

Whilst I look forward to sharing more detail with you about our own strategic plan over coming instalments, it’s worth saying that it isn’t perfect. I’ve never seen one that is. In fact, I’m not sure perfect exists. But I think it might be a good one, and that’ll do for me.