Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #8

Tip #8: Analyze results through reports.

Production

Create a report listing the reexaminations actually completed on time per team, per housing specialist. With this data, on-time percentages can be established. The manager needs to monitor progress to determine whether the reexaminations are on time and, if not, take action.

The results tie back into performance standards. The manager can then make performance decisions based on facts.

Accuracy

Results are usually divided into two types: files with errors affecting HAP, and files with errors not affecting HAP. Errors affecting HAP have dollar consequences and are the most serious because, if they’re caught in an audit, the PHA will be required to make restitution.

Files with errors not affecting HAP, such as those missing a signature on a form (or missing a form entirely), should be tracked because they’ll fail a HUD audit, and will probably count against the SEMAP score if they’re part of a SEMAP factor.

Although identifying individual errors is an important element of quality control, it’s not the only aspect. Using reports to look at performance and production over time (that is, trends) can provide important insights that lead to error reduction.

The most useful information to track depends on circumstances at each agency. Generally, tracking is valuable for looking at variations in:

  • The number and percentage of errors by error type, staff person, and team (or department)
  • The improvement in error rates

Gathering the right data enables your analysis of errors, as well as your decisions about how to address the errors, to be efficient and factual. All of the data should tie back into the individual’s performance standards and, if there are performance problems, they can therefore be addressed objectively.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #9

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #7

Tip #7: Gather data using tools to clearly and quickly identify problem areas.

Performance measures should be created for all functional areas of the program from intake to finance, and these measures should tie back to the individual performance standards for each staff position performing that function. Managers should measure both the level of production (i.e., are deadlines met) and the quality and accuracy of the work performed.

Production

The HCV manager must create tools and methods to track production. For example, the annual reexaminations to be completed each month can be projected on a spreadsheet by team and by individual for the entire year. By doing this, the manager can evaluate deficiencies in production or variances in caseloads each month and make any necessary adjustments. (See Tip #3.)

The status of all annual reexaminations should be checked on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The manager should gather and track data on progress made on the reexamination throughout the four-month reexamination cycle. The sooner that the manager is aware of a backlog of reexaminations, the sooner steps can be taken to correct it.

Staff should be required to complete a caseload status report if they’re behind in their production. Daily, weekly, and monthly production charts will assist the manager in detecting a major problem before it may be too late to solve it.

Accuracy

If the files are completed on time, but they have errors, the reexamination was not a success. If the inspection was conducted on time, but HQS fail items were missed, then the inspection was not successful.

File reviews are essential to performance measurement because they provide quick access to maximum data. File reviews will help you to:

  • Evaluate the accuracy and timeliness of your housing specialists’ work
  • Determine if required documents and documentation are present
  • Evaluate compliance with PHA policies

Files for this purpose include not only paper files but also automated 50058 records.

An annual reexamination housing specialist procedures checklist could be used for the level 1 and 2 file reviews noted above. The quality control staff may use a checklist that’s part of an automated quality control program. Many PHAs use the HUD Tenant File Review Checklist, Appendix A, for this part of the quality control check. Some PHAs have rolled the results into a spreadsheet for analysis.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #8

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

If you find that you need help with quality control, NMA can provide your agency with customized training and consulting, technology solutions, and more. Email sales@nanmckay.com for further assistance.

Friday news roundup 1/18/13

HUD: RAD at a glance

New York Times: One of America’s most vexing problems

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #6

Tip #6: Design a quality-control system.

In the first five tips, we talked about ways to define and communicate your agency’s goals and how you plan to get there:

Now, let’s discuss the next step: monitoring results. This is crucial to driving performance excellence throughout your organization, and it starts with designing a quality-control system.

An effective quality-control system provides the manager with the status of production, accuracy, and compliance with HUD requirements. It clarifies expectations in terms of both individual and organizational performance. It enables managers to identify leading and lagging indicators in production and accuracy, and take steps towards improvement. And it helps managers to identify underperforming staff, as well as to identify and reward improved or excellent performance.

Maintaining program integrity goes far beyond reviewing tenant files; it involves monitoring all areas of program operations. This requires designing a program integrity schedule, which is a comprehensive document that includes all the performance areas you want to monitor. It defines the acceptable performance standards for each area and includes the designated frequency of the reviews for each area. The methodology and forms to be used can also be included in your plan.

Committing staff resources to perform quality control has an associated cost.  However, the cost of errors found through an audit can be far greater than the staffing cost. Effective quality control should be performed at three levels: first, by the staff person who performed the work; second, by the immediate supervisor of that person (both prior to HAP payment); third, by the quality-control staff assigned to review the work after the payment has been made.

The selection of QC staff who perform the third level is vital to the success of your QC efforts. The person(s) you select must be knowledgeable in HUD regulations and PHA policy. They must have the ability to provide constructive feedback and the discipline to follow QC protocols consistently.

A quality-control plan helps you schedule all the tasks necessary to meet department or agency goals and objectives. Developing your QC plan should be a collaborative effort of the management team, because the need to perform quality control extends to all areas of operation, not just the day-to-day housing functions. Decisions, assumptions, and recommendations for continuous quality improvement should tie back to the strategic plan and your PHA’s mission.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #7

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

If you find that you need help with quality control, NMA can provide your agency with customized training and consulting, technology solutions, and more. Email sales@nanmckay.com for further assistance.

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #5

Tip #5: Create practical work systems and work processes to ensure consistency.

The term “work systems” refers to the way in which an organization aligns its internal operations and workforce with its key vendors, suppliers, partners, and collaborators to provide a high-quality, cost-effective service to its clients.

Our work systems include our communication protocol, our expectations, and our tracking mechanisms between our internal work processes and our external resources necessary for us to plan and deliver services to our customers. Examples of work systems are HUD regulations, your PHA’s administrative plan, and PHA systems such as housing software and the electronic filing system, call tracking system, criminal background check system, and data tracking system such as SharePoint.

Work processes are a subset of the overall work system. They create the internal structure of how the work is accomplished and involve all the activities needed to sustain the various program functions, including how staff is utilized and which tools should be created by the PHA to accomplish the work. Work processes include written procedures for the functional areas of the program, mini-procedures for a specific task, workflows, automated reports, meetings, and checklists. Data entry and transmission of the HUD-50058 are other examples of work processes.

What should your agency keep in mind when setting up work processes?  Most importantly, they should be:

  • Easy to reference
  • Simple to understand
  • Designed in a step-by-step process
  • Tied into procedure checklists

When HUD regulations and forms and PHA policy, systems, letters, and forms are referenced within these processes, it allows staff a better understanding of how the work processes are integrated. The more clearly the overall work systems and work processes are defined, the more sustainable your organization will be.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #6

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #4

Tip #4: Create a caseload and accuracy plan with specific performance standards.

Your caseload and accuracy plan should provide a permanent distribution of caseloads so that staff are assigned a caseload and so that the distribution results in equal caseloads for each level of staff. The following plan also provides for a graduated caseload and accuracy plan for new employees to ramp up to a full caseload. The overall objective is to have matching, accurate data between PIC and your housing software, with no backlog in either PIC or the housing software.

Staff identified below are in Housing Specialist positions managing a caseload which they’re assigned after initial lease-up through termination. They prepare the initial paperwork and data entry for moves, inspections, and rent reasonableness, but the activities for those functions are handled by other staff. Their primary responsibility is reexaminations and interim adjustments. They will also handle terminations.

The recommended annual caseload for experienced staff for reexaminations is 450. Since they don’t have to handle moves, they’re expected to handle up to 45 cases per month. The number of reexaminations per month may vary due to the geographical split of the caseload. Reexaminations should be assigned only to the reexamination staff, regardless of whether there’s a reexamination in conjunction with a move.

This plan outlines at what point a newly hired staff person is expected to take on the full caseload.

Level 1: Initial Training Plan with Small Caseload

The first full month after hire date, the employee will be working on sample cases. During this period, they will receive additional classroom training and be paired with a more experienced staff person to assist them in completing their sample cases. Their “mentoring partner” (the more experienced staff person with whom they’re paired) is allowed to assign them various duties to assist in processing their own caseload as a learning experience. These duties can include everything from observing an interview to copying paperwork. The training coordinator and the supervisor will also begin providing on-the-job training.

The new employee is assigned sample cases from a library of 30 cases. Test databases are set up for new employees to use. Each case will have housing software data entry, calculation, and forms to complete, so that the entire function is performed on each case. Answers to the case will be included. New employees work on these cases on their own, and may request assistance from the mentoring partner if they’re having trouble completing the case and getting the correct answer. The employee must complete the 30 test cases at this level. Because they’re for learning purposes, all cases must be completed with 100% accuracy.

Level 2: Caseload of 15

The employee will be at level 2, with a caseload of 15, for one month. During this time, the accuracy of the employee’s cases will be monitored by the supervisor, and the employee will be provided with feedback and instructions on corrections where needed. An accuracy rate of 65% is required for cases completed this month. All cases will be quality-controlled prior to HAP payment.

The mentoring partner will still be available for assistance on cases, as will the training coordinator and the computer trainer (when they’re not engaged in training activities). The employee will be encouraged to complete their own active cases and assist others with their cases, participate in training, or otherwise be effectively utilized with the supervisor’s direction.

Level 3: Caseload of 30

The employee will be at level 3, with a caseload of 30, for one month. The same mentoring staff will be available to assist, but the assistance required should be minimal. An accuracy rate of 80% is required for cases completed this month. At least 50% of cases will be quality-controlled prior to HAP payment. The employee will be encouraged to complete their own cases and assist others with their cases, participate in training, or otherwise be effectively utilized with the supervisor’s direction.

Level 4: Caseload of 45

After the completion of the three-month caseload schedule described above, the employee will be assigned a full caseload of 45 per month. A level of 95% accuracy at the submission of the case will be expected. An accuracy rate of 95% is required for cases completed this month. At least 50% of cases will be quality-controlled prior to HAP payment for the first month at this level. After the first month, the employee must retain at least an average of 95% accuracy.

Accelerated Caseloads

If, in the supervisor’s and employee’s determination, the employee can handle an increased caseload during any period above, additional cases may be assigned to the employee. The employee may also act as a mentor to other new staff.

Certification

The employee will complete either a Housing Specialist class encompassing eligibility, rent calculations, and occupancy, or the employee may be assigned to complete online classes on these subjects. The employee must then achieve a passing score of 80% on the Housing Specialist test, either in the classroom or online, to continue employment. One test retake will be allowed within 45 days of the Housing Specialist test. This certification must be achieved by the end of level 2.

Case Assignment

Caseload assignment will be done by the (specify a position here). Only supervisors will be allowed to change a caseload assignment and must justify any changes each month.

Regular cases will be distributed by zip codes by team. Within the team, the supervisor assigns cases with the objective of complying with caseload levels identified above, and with the goal in mind of achieving a nearly equal staff caseload within each level.

Backlog cases older than three months will generally be assigned to level 4 staff as needed, and will be nearly equally distributed to this group of staff. Backlog cases due within the prior three months will be assigned to level 3 staff and above as needed.

Cases in housing software but not PIC will be assigned to PIC staff or to the supervisor to resolve. A supervisor will be assigned the responsibility of ensuring that these cases are completed in a timely manner. The most likely reason for cases to be in this category is that “hold” codes have not been resolved. If the family is no longer on the program, there must be an End of Participation (EOP) entered in PIC. If the family has decided not to move and has stayed in the same unit, or if the family has moved to another unit, the “hold” code will be removed and any required updating to the record will be completed.

Correction of Quality-Controlled Cases

The employee is responsible for correcting all mistakes in his/her quality-controlled files within three business days after the notification of the errors.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #5

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

Did you know that NMA is the only IACET-approved training and certification company serving the affordable housing industry? Read more on our website.

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #3

Tip #3: Create and assign realistic and equitable caseloads.

In Tip #2, we discussed how to choose a caseload model that will work well for your agency. The next step is to establish a realistic caseload for the model you’ve selected. The more activities in the caseload, the fewer cases are assigned.

For example, a housing specialist who handles the activities from initial briefing through termination (an example of a generalist model) will be able to handle fewer cases than a housing specialist who handles only annual and interim reexaminations (an example of a specialist model).

The amount and type of clerical support can also influence the size of the caseload. Many PHAs, as they attempt to reduce costs, choose to assign more duties that are clerical in nature to their clerical staff, allowing more experienced and capable staff to focus on the more difficult functional responsibilities.

It’s important to note that new staff should be given a graduated caseload until they’re capable of handling a full caseload. During the period of new employee ramp-up, both production and accuracy standards should be established on a graduated scale until full production and accuracy performance level standards can be achieved.

From month to month, there will always be variations in the distribution of caseloads between staff due to turnover and other factors. Some PHAs set a maximum number of cases to be handled and, if the caseload for a particular month exceeds that maximum, the cases are either redistributed or temporary assistance is provided to the caseworker.

Most staff do not prefer to have their cases assigned to another worker. Some PHAs use the buddy system effectively, or assign a “floater.” In a heavy month, the buddy (or a “floater” position that can assist any caseworker) will assist with some of the duties.

For example, in a reexamination, after the regularly assigned caseworker has completed the reexamination interview and gathered the information and documents required, the reexamination is processed by another caseworker. The original caseworker then quality-controls the work done by the other caseworker. With a buddy system, these tasks can flow easily back and forth. The advantage is that the family’s relationship with their caseworker is not affected.

The supervisor should ensure that caseloads for experienced staff performing the same functions are as even as possible. For instance, the supervisor can lay out the assigned reexaminations for the year to determine whether the monthly caseloads will be about the same, and can then make adjustments as necessary.

Creating a caseload and accuracy plan with specific performance standards will provide clear expectations for staff and enable the manager to measure performance. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #4

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

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