Health care property and strategy - Linking property to strategy to avoid lazy assets

June 25, 2018

When it comes to aligning property with business strategy, most organisations underplay how they can be linked and aligned. Here is a four step approach to ensure your property assets become enablers of strategic value and maximum revenue.

Trusted disability care and accommodation specialist, Able Australia (Able), had no difficulty articulating their strategic intent. Able owns and manages numerous residential properties throughout Australia, supporting and accommodating people living with multiple disabilities including deaf-blindness and those in need of community support.

With a desperate Australia-wide shortage of ‘fit–for-purpose’ residences and a genuine concern for occupants’ wellbeing, Able wanted to ensure their property investment choices better responded to the needs of the business and the community. Pitcher Partners Consulting was engaged to help Able to develop an evaluation tool that ensured property choices were considerate to their community’s specific needs, as per their seven dimension business strategy.

Step one involved the establishment of a multi-disciplinary committee which included a cross section of leadership from across the organisation: CEO, board director, general manager, national facilities manager, service delivery managers, area managers and disability support workers. Bringing the right team together was critical in correctly framing the project purpose.

Step two was an information gathering exercise to better understand the current state, where Pitcher Partners facilitated several full-day workshops and subsequent discussions to understand the organisation’s strategy; also define what property meant to Able; and better understand the concerns and needs of its community. Through this inclusive process the group gained valuable insight into how property might enhance user experience and support the organisation’s objectives.

During step three, the focus was on the future and the development of a property-specific vision statement. Drawing from the existing organisational vision statement, the new statement is: “To provide access to property solutions that are innovative, safe, fit for purpose, community connected and that meet clients’ social and personal needs”.

The committee then identified how property would respond to the new vision, asking questions such as ‘how might property provide choice and service excellence for the people Able supports?’. The results included ideas and recommendations including more independent living, proximity to public transport and community services, and greater security. This process continued across all seven business strategies, culminating in a collection of possible solutions and aspirational ideals.

The third step also included an analysis of the data from workshops and discussions, where an affinity mapping activity was run to cluster like-concepts and ideas into a cohesive classification on both quantitative and qualitative measures. Within this process we also identified three broader classification criteria: physical (e.g. security, OH&S, technology, location, etc.), functional (e.g. condition, access to other services, affordability, accessibility, sensory, etc.) and emotional (e.g. improve relationships, facilitate wellness, colour, belonging, stimulative, etc.), which are drivers of value.

Step four entailed the development of an excel-based property evaluation model. The objective was to create a customisable, easy-to-use model that captured the key financial and qualitative information. The main features of the model include a summary reporting dashboard, property criteria inputs, adjustable assumptions, financial outputs and an overall property criteria score.

This tool now allows Able to make informed property-related decisions, which are sensitive to its clients’ qualitative needs and Able’s financial requirements, by using a weighted checklist. Management is using this tool to determine more accurately which property provides the optimal choice, and the outputs of the model form part of the business case to the Board. The result is an alignment of the property strategy with the overall business strategy whilst being sensitive to the most important stakeholders.

With health care providers holding significant property assets, is it time to ask the question of your organisation: Are we effectively utilising our vast property holding to achieve strategic priorities and avoiding underutilised assets? If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Rob Tigani.

Rob Tigani is a Client Director at Pitcher Partners Consulting, Melbourne. He leads the Consulting Property Sector Group and the Strategy & Change service lines.

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