Using research to shape our decisions

By Victoria Dufferwiel, Policy & Research Analyst, Thirteen Group - on 25/02/2020

Evidence-based decision making (EBDM) involves gathering information, facts and analysis about a particular policy, project, initiative or market so that informed decisions can be made.

This is done across Thirteen’s services using different types of internal and external information and in a range of formats – for example, using written and verbal reports.

A current example of EBDM is the major research being carried out on our behalf by HACT - the ideas and innovation charity for the social housing sector.

When we launched our new operating model in April 2018, we put neighbourhoods at the heart of everything we do. After allowing services to establish, we needed to understand the impact that these changes had made so we decided to commission research from a reputable and independent organisation to accurately evaluate and measure outcomes from the service changes.

HACT is carrying research into the effects of changes that Thirteen made to the way we manage our services for neighbourhoods. The research started in November 2019 and staff from HACT are continuing to interview influential partners and other stakeholders about their thoughts around the impacts of the changes to our operating model. This research will help to generate evidence that will allow Thirteen to make decisions about possible future service improvements for customers.

The importance we place on evidence-based decision making as an organisation naturally led us to HACT and we’re looking forward to seeing the research findings in April, as they will give us detailed and informed evidence to support our journey to continuously review and improve how we work.

Evidence-based decision-making

For Thirteen, EBDM means that we can make the best possible decisions for the business and for our customers, ensuring that we maximise the impact of our services while continuing to deliver good value for money. EBDM also allows us to consider areas of growth and ensures that we are well-informed about any risk involved in these growth areas.

Making good use of evidence as we decide on future changes to services also helps us to demonstrate good practices to our stakeholders and regulating bodies as we can clearly show why we have made specific decisions. Additionally, EBDM provides us with consistency when making decisions and evidence to back-up what we have done.

Another example of applying EDBM within Thirteen is the regular production of market reports from our policy and research team. These are primarily used to support our development and neighbourhoods teams to evaluate potential new areas in which to build and regenerate. The reports contain evidence such as average rents, house sale prices and crime statistics, and they provide detailed customer insight such as population characteristics and consumer behaviour so we can understand the needs of particular groups of people.

In developing EBDM within Thirteen, impartiality is of key importance in evidence collection to ensure that EDBM is of a high quality.

Although EDBM has many benefits, sometimes it’s important to accept what you can’t find! This lack of information can sometimes tell us just as much about a particular subject as vast amounts of data, especially when striving to be a leader and innovator in a particular area.

The joint research project between Thirteen Group and HACT will be publishing its final report in May.  

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