Monday 20 February 2017

Housing Benefits - Long-term data and improvements in performance.

I’ve helped quite a number of Housing Benefit departments in the last 15 years, including helping Darlington move from 60th in the national league table to the top 10 - where they remain (based on customer end-to-end time).  I also helped Milton Keynes reduce their end-to-end time from 60 days to 20.  Likewise Middlesborough.  And quite a number of others.  And all during a time of cuts.

I’ve been undertaking some Housing Benefit research lately, analysing some of the government data that councils have to lodge - and it’s not been easy!

I trained as a Chartered Accountant, and was soon brought in to the fold of month-ends and year-ends.  Fine, the accountant needs to draw a line in the sand, but back in operations, it’s just another day.  Long term performance in operations requires an understanding of how operations have performed repeatedly over long periods of time.

The Benefits performance data that the government logs are quarterly, and split into geographic region, making it difficult to see performance over time, and difficult to compare similarly sized departments.

I’ve now pulled together all of the long term data into a database to make it easy to compare performance.  This covers:
  • 6 years of quarterly data, and
  • 379 councils.  

It makes for some interesting analysis - those that do well, and others that seem to struggle - and it enables the real questions to be asked:
  • how are some performing well? - what’s special about what they’re doing?
  • others are struggling, why is that? - what could they be doing differently?
  • why isn’t everyone sharing what they’ve learned to offer great service?

And it’s not because of budget cuts - good performance in systems of the this type is cheaper, because it eliminates the waste work:

I also have considerable experience of similar improvements in Finance, HR, Payroll, Council Tax, Planning, Housing Repairs, Streetscene and others.  And in the private sector, including IT help desks, billing performance, claims and banking.

Want to know more, drop me a line:


Wednesday 8 February 2017

Learning by experience

I came across this little gem - a fantastic reminder of how people learn.

I've seen many people (and experienced consultants) tell people how and what to change - and they always seem surprised when things don't quite 'stick' in the weeks to come.

Combining a "whole system" approach, together with an active "working-together" ethos during the change process, will always increase the changes of success and lasting change.

It's a good reminder of the difference between Change Management and Work Design.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

The keys to a system of work

It was a busy 2016, with a really mixed set of clients, including, amongst others:
  • a London-based lightning-conductor design, engineer and install business
  • a large southwest-based firm of solicitors, and
  • preparing payroll systems for one of the world’s largest car rental business
It couldn’t have been more diverse  - so what do they have in common?

They were all having problems with their “system” (not IT system) and were all scratching their heads.  And all required changes to thinking to enable a different approach to the work.  

My belief is that different systems have a ‘key’ - a focal point if you like, that is at the heart of the issue, which then helps the rest of the business/process to fit into place.

For the teams of engineers who were spending a little too often parked-up outside the office rather than on site delivering and earning, we discovered:
  • they were often being sent to site with incorrect or old design drawings
  • the site said they were ready for the works, but actually were not, and
  • the project managers didn’t have time to be pro-active (because they were fixed stuff that had gone wring before)

For the legal firm:
  • encouraging more team work
  • a little more formal communication, and
  • ensuring the whole team, from top to bottom, understood a little more about how the whole business worked.

The car rental company:
  • considering the end-to-end data flow from the employees perspective
  • ensuring the various data flows are all collected right-first-time - collecting payroll data for hours worked, commission due, and
  • eliminating the failure demand at the end of the process by ensuring accuracy at the start.

Where I’ve studied the work in business systems, the ‘keys’ are often the same, and that’s because “the system” is same.  An insurance claim, looks like a benefit claim, looks like anti-money laundering event, looks like a planning application, looks like an engineering install.

A few of the most common 'keys':
  • ensure a common purpose for the whole team, from the customers' perspective
  • put the effort in upfront to make sure you start with clean data
  • only do the value work, and
  • do it right-first-time.

Want to know more?  Give me a buzz.