AmicusHorizon transforms performance management

Boosting business insight with IBM Business Analytics software

Published on 15-Apr-2013

"IBM Cognos Metric Studio has brought about a massive change in our performance management culture. Performance data is now up-to-date, accurate and in people’s faces." - Lance Henderson, Head of Business Intelligence, AmicusHorizon



Deployment country:
United Kingdom

BA - Business Analytics, BA - Business Intelligence, Business Performance Transformation, BA - Risk Analytics, BA - Performance Management, Transforming Business

IBM Business Partner:


AmicusHorizon Limited is a housing association based in London and the south east of England. It has gross assets of over £1.2bn, an annual turnover of £150m and reserves of £43m. With approximately 900 staff, the company manages more than 28,000 homes. AmicusHorizon offers housing solutions from affordable general needs homes to supported housing for people with care and support needs.

Business need:
To improve its overall business performance, AmicusHorizon needed to understand precisely where and how it was underperforming. Existing spreadsheet-based performance management systems were inefficient and costly to maintain.

AmicusHorizon has developed 19 scorecards to monitor 400 different performance metrics using IBM® Cognos® Metric Studio. Performance is tracked at strategic, regional and area levels, with a traffic-light system to provide at-a-glance visibility into performance against targets.

Reduces time and effort involved in maintaining company performance data, resulting in potential savings of up to £200,000.

Delivers more accurate, up-to-date performance metrics, helping to boost business confidence in performance measures and support smarter decision-making.

Case Study

AmicusHorizon Limited is a housing association based in London and the south east of England. It has gross assets of over £1.2bn, an annual turnover of £150m and reserves of £43m. With approximately 900 staff, the company manages more than 28,000 homes. AmicusHorizon offers housing solutions from affordable general needs homes to supported housing for people with care and support needs.

Tackling performance issues
In 2007, AmicusHorizon was placed under regulatory supervision by its housing regulators for weak governance, poor performance and lack of customer focus. In response the association underwent significant operational change and appointed a new CEO and board of directors in 2008 to turn the situation around. The new board launched an ambitious strategy, aimed at making AmicusHorizon “number one at everything we do”. It set out a number of goals to maximise business performance and increase customer satisfaction.

AmicusHorizon realised that meeting these targets would require significant changes to its performance monitoring. If it could not accurately and efficiently identify areas of underperformance, it would be unable to prioritize improvement plans.

Eliminating spreadsheet-based processes
AmicusHorizon recognised its existing approach to performance management was inefficient, and did not offer the level of insight senior managers needed to steer business change.

Previously, the company used a spreadsheet-based scorecard system to track key performance indicators, such as rent arrears, repairs, turnaround times for vacant properties and response to antisocial behaviour. This manual system was difficult to maintain, and offered a limited view of the association’s performance.

Lance Henderson, Head of Business Intelligence at AmicusHorizon, states: “We relied on 14 different spreadsheets to monitor performance data stretching back as far as three years. These spreadsheets were very complex and required a lot of management effort to maintain.

“We had a small team exclusively devoted to loading data manually onto each spreadsheet every month and to rebuilding the scorecards annually. These manual processes were slow, but the bigger problem was that the business had a limited, potentially inaccurate, and certainly delayed view of performance.”

Extending investment in IBM Business Analytics software
AmicusHorizon identified an ideal opportunity to extend its existing IBM Cognos 10 software to improve its scorecarding processes. It decided to deploy IBM Cognos Metric Studio and contracted IBM Business Partner EnterpriseBI to assist with the implementation.

“We worked with EnterpriseBI on some of our earlier Cognos Business Intelligence projects, so it was a logical choice to partner with them once again,” notes Lance Henderson. “They provided hands-on training and mentoring, which allowed us to get to grips with using the new solution fairly quickly. IBM Cognos Metric Studio is also very user-friendly and easy-to-use. We were really surprised at how simple it was to start developing scorecards.

“Moving to Metric Studio was a leap of faith for us, but we immediately recognised the value of the solution and its potential for transforming how we monitored performance. We had some senior executives take a look at the system – once they realised what could be done with Metric Studio it really took off.”

Keeping a close track on performance
IBM Cognos Metric Studio uses the company’s housing management data warehouse as its main data source. Additional information is sourced from a contact management system and the company’s existing IBM Cognos TM1 system. When these data sources are updated or modified, the changes are synchronised to the Metric Studio scorecards, ensuring that metrics are always kept up-to-date.

AmicusHorizon developed 19 scorecards, which monitor a total of 400 different performance metrics using Cognos Metric Studio. Performance is tracked at a number of levels, mirroring the association’s governance structure, with metrics monitored at strategic, regional and area levels.

The scorecard application enables the company to track actual performance against its goals and objectives. A traffic light system indicates how well performance objectives are being met, with metrics appearing as either poor (red), average (yellow), or excellent (green). For each metric, it is also possible to view if trends improve, maintain or worsen.

Increased efficiency and cost savings
AmicusHorizon has considerably streamlined how it creates and manages scorecards. With Cognos Metric Studio, the technology team has automated 70 percent of the metrics that it monitors. While some manual intervention is required to manage the remaining metrics, the process is now far more straightforward.

The team no longer has to devote valuable time and energy to manually load data onto numerous spreadsheets every month, or to rebuilding individual scorecards each year. This has significantly reduced the administrative effort required to prepare and maintain scorecards and has also delivered significant cost savings.

“Moving away from manual, spreadsheet based processes has saved us significant amounts of time and money,” remarks Lance Henderson. “In addition to improving efficiencies, we estimate that the total savings generated by adopting the Cognos Metric Studio solution could be as high as £200,000.”

Instilling greater confidence
Confidence in performance figures has also increased as the Metric Studio scorecards are synchronised with the company’s main data warehouse. Changes to the source data are reflected in the metrics.

“We’ve really boosted confidence in the performance figures, as everything is highly automated and integrated with our source systems,” says Lance Henderson. “We no longer second-guess ourselves about the accuracy of our data, which is a huge plus. We’re also no longer reliant on manually re-keying data, vastly reducing the risk of human error.”

Radical culture change
The new Cognos scorecard system has brought significant changes to the way AmicusHorizon manages performance data. Every single one of the 400 metrics tracked in Cognos Metric Studio is assigned to a specific owner. This provides greater clarity about ownership of performance data and instils a greater sense of individual responsibility to the task.

Lance Henderson explains: “There’s much more accountability now we can challenge individual performance metrics. It really encourages staff to focus on making improvements and helps us build a better organisation. This is an incredibly powerful capability and, in our opinion, one of the best features of Cognos Metric Studio.”

Reaching a wider audience
The user-friendly graphical interface of the Cognos solution has also made it easier for AmicusHorizon’s business intelligence team to promote its new scorecard system to a wider audience than before. The comparison functionality of the software enables senior management to easily identify areas of best and worst performance, and make more targeted plans for improvement.

“The solution focuses attention on critical areas and enables the business to view performance in a way that we were unable to before,” says Lance Henderson. “Management can now see which metrics are in the red, whether they’re worsening or not changing at all. We can also target ways to boost our performance.”

AmicusHorizon has plans to drive greater adoption of Cognos Metric Studio across the organisation, and provide employees at all levels with access to relevant performance figures. As part of this strategy, the company is developing a series of reporting dashboards using IBM Cognos Workspace. It is also introducing service-oriented functional scorecards to track metrics on a range of services.

Turning the tables
AmicusHorizon has seen dramatic changes in the last four years. It has moved out of regulatory supervision to become one of the top performing housing associations in London and the south east.

The ambitious transformation introduced by the company’s new executive management and board of directors has delivered impressive results. AmicusHorizon was awarded “co-regulatory champion” status by the Tenant Services Authority in 2011. It won Investors In People gold status in 2011 and swept the board at the 2012 HR Excellence Awards, picking up six awards.

AmicusHorizon also achieved the highest performance amongst its benchmarking peer group in the following metrics: lowest rent arrears, quickest re-let times, highest satisfaction ratings for overall satisfaction, repairs satisfaction, complaints handling and outcome satisfaction, antisocial behaviour handling and outcomes, best percentage of repair appointments kept, lowest staff turnover and best time to answer calls.

The organisation recognises the value of IBM Cognos software in helping achieve and maintain these high standards.

Lance Henderson concludes: “IBM Cognos Metric Studio has brought about a massive change in our performance management culture. Performance data is now up-to-date, accurate and in people’s faces. Our senior management can track business performance in real time and can react with greater agility to changes. This keeps the organisation on track to meet its strategic and operational goals.”

To see an additional case study with AmicusHorizon please click here.

About EnterpriseBI
EnterpriseBI specialises in the delivery of performance management solutions with a particular focus on the UK social housing sector. An expert in data warehousing and IBM Cognos performance management solutions, EnterpriseBI provides total support for its clients’ performance management projects. With over 10 years’ experience of building data warehouses and implementing IBM Cognos performance management tools, EnterpriseBI can ensure that your performance management project is implemented quickly and effectively.

EnterpriseBI has successfully partnered with many UK housing associations, giving it an in-depth understanding of the key financial and operational factors affecting the sector.

To learn more about products, services and solutions from EnterpriseBI please visit

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organisations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management.

Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualise trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organisations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals.

For more information
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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos Business Intelligence

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. BM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. April 2013. IBM, the IBM logo,, and Cognos are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: IBM and Enterprise BI are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Enterprise BI makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation.