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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 for further assistance.