Powered by Spotlight: Dwell Housing Trust

Dwell Housing Trust is a Not-for-Profit organisation born out of a need for more affordable housing. Over the past 40 years, they’ve provided rentals to struggling individuals and families, expanded home ownership across the region through a co-ownership scheme, and created supportive communities for their tenants.

Highlights at a Glance

One of their biggest challenges is that they are a small team of four, meaning their time, money, and energy are all thinly stretched. By using Spotlight Reporting for their financial reporting and forecasting needs, they’ve been able to save incredible amounts of time and money, making them enthusiastic supporters of our product.

“It’s amazing, the reporting. It’s just so professional!” says Renee Cowley, Finance Manager.

Moving to Spotlight

Dwell began its life as the Wellington Housing Trust around 40 years ago. Their motto is to be "more than just a landlord", providing housing and related services to people who find renting difficult, for whatever reason.

“We care,” says Renee. “We work with our tenants to help them resolve any problems they might have. We want people to be able to live well, be well, and do well in our homes.”

As with most Not-for-Profits, Dwell has to make sure their limited resources stretch a long way. During a recent business improvement exercise, one of their board members, who is a partner at KPMG, suggested they try Spotlight Reporting.

“Renee does have quite a big role, so we were really looking at ways of getting some efficiency and reducing the time she spends on creating financial reports,” says Alison Cadman, Chief Executive. “Business improvement was a big driver.”

Finance Manager Renee Cowley, Chief Executive Alison Cadman, Tenancy Manager Sue Clarke, and Projects Manager Ingrid Downey

Flexible, Professional, Accurate

Since moving from Excel reporting to Spotlight, they’ve been able to save an incredible amount of time.

“We save a day and a half every two months on preparing board reports,” says Renee.

But time isn’t the only draw for them.

“The flexibility of the report is fantastic,” says Alison. “It’s such a powerful tool and it’s going to grow with us. When we get bigger, or do different things, we won’t need to get another tool. We can see the flexibility in it, and how it’s going to suit our changes as well.”

Outside of their internal reporting, Dwell primarily use Spotlight to report to their board. Also as a registered community housing provider with the Community Housing Regulatory Authority, Dwell is required to annually provide them with a budget and a three-year forecast and Spotlight Reporting is key to this.

“Our budgeting is pretty good, and when it comes to forecasting, the tool takes away any guesswork,” Alison says. “We’re much more informed using Spotlight.”

“We’ve made a huge leap,” says Renee. “If I showed you what we used to present to the board, compared to what we present now, it’s just miles away!”

“Before we started using Spotlight, we used Excel and it was time consuming, not as comprehensive, and had a higher chance of errors,” agrees Alison. “We’ve been able to step up so much.”

Engaging for the Board

The board, in particular, are loving this new way of reporting. One huge benefit is that Dwell’s board has been able to get more engaged with the numbers since moving to Spotlight Reporting.

“A perfect example is the Cashflow Waterfall,” says Renee. “The board love it! They think it’s amazing. Simplicity. Not too overcomplicated.”

“They spend so much more time talking about the reports. I’m like, move along, move along,” laughs Alison. “No, but while I don’t want to oversimplify it, our reporting not only looks so much more professional, and we’re providing more data than we used to, so they’re taking a greater interest in it. It’s a big difference.”

Sample Report (Multi)
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