Project title: Service reorganisation to save costs

What was required

Wiltshire Council had a strong commitment to change. Rather than simply delivering services, it wanted to put customers right at the very heart of everything that it does. With our support, employees completely redesigned processes for community services and introduced new job roles to enable them to better meet customer needs. Wiltshire Council engaged us to provide consultancy to support their development of a four-year Business Plan that would explain how the authority would reduce costs at the same time as protecting front line services.  The Plan contained a four year £100m cost reduction target to be delivered between 2010 and 2014.  A key component of this cost reduction exercise was the application of advanced systems thinking as part of a comprehensive review of Adult and Social Care Services. We carried out exploratory work to identify where we believed the most significant cost reduction opportunities existed, whilst trading this off against the needs of the council’s customers such that the council could both cut costs and improve services in social care.  Following the successful completion of a customer trial, the council transformed all areas of its Adult and Social Care department to create a truly customer centric business.

What we did

This workstream covered Children’s Services (0-18), Adult Services (18-65), Autism, Health, Housing, Voluntary Sector and carers, Highways and Transport. This was aimed at refocussing activities on the needs of the customer, creating more efficient ways of working and improving the customer experience.

Our role was to guide employees to evaluate their own roles and processes, communicate the goals of the change programme to teams and senior managers and to support staff to design and implement new business processes and organisation structures.  This was all carried out in line with Customer Centric Business Change (CCBC) methodology, which in this case deployed:

  • Customer Driven Thinking (internal VOC & external VOC);
  • Transformational Change:   challenging preconceptions on our part and on the part of the Customer, and taking advantage of the current ‘Climate of Change’ to do this;
  • End to End Analysis:from Customer Need to Front Line Services through‘invisible central activity’ to    Commissioned Services, removing departmental boundaries;
  • Wiltshire Systems Thinking as the Toolkit for Analysis;
  • Proactive Communication to engage and ensure buy in;
  • Determining the appropriate/measured/optimum spend for services;
  • Building pace and sustaining momentum;
  • Joining up Initiatives already in progress.

We organised a series of workshops and investigative interviews, involving employees from all levels and areas of the department. The consultants analysed the outcomes of these sessions and compiled detailed diagrams and reports on the council’s as-is processes. Next, we helped the council to communicate the benefits of change to employees, senior executives and partners.

We then helped the council’s staff to design new processes for Adult Social Care by facilitating a series of workshops and guiding employees to consider what the best processes might be from a customer’s perspective. Our approach was centred on the customer and inclusive of employees.

One of the most significant changes was the creation of a new customer coordinator role. Employees in this role provide a single point of contact for customers and coordinate the delivery of all of the services and equipment they need, across all community services teams. The physical location of teams was also changed, to group professionals with multiple skill sets together according to real customer needs.

We then helped the council’s staff to design new processes for Adult Social Care by facilitating a series of workshops and guiding employees to consider what the best processes might be from a customer’s perspective.

We dealt with cultural differences, managed attitudes and expectations, allowed for the uncertainty over the nature of the Government spending review, overcame change fatigue and doubts about credibility of delivery, absorbed statutory requirements and dealt with the short timescale for this engagement by accelerating the pace of change.  Implicit in all of this work was the need to have WCC take ownership of the strategies and solutions we developed and to leave them with firm buy in from officers, elected members and representatives of the public.

The end result (how this helped the client)

  • Positive attitudes towards change at all levels of the organisation
  • Efficiency gains across the department, including a 50% reduction in the time needed to perform assessments
  • Positive feedback from customers, who are receiving a faster and more personal service
  • By taking a level of technology dependency out of the council’s existing processes, we greatly simplified them. This, in turn, has enabled the council to dramatically speed up its delivery of community services.
  • At the end of the trial period, the project steering group committee reported that the time needed to perform assessments had been reduced by 50%.
  • Wiltshire Council subsequently made further productivity improvements of over 30% right across the departments.
  • These efficiency gains allowed the council to invest in more preventive measures.
  • Working with the council’s managers and staff we successfully transferred knowledge of our method and tools through workshops and formal training and by coaching and mentoring of project and programme managers during the programme and then through subsequent service reviews.
  • We left WCC with an improved set of methods, tools and approaches to carry out future business transformation exercises.
  • Through our consultancy WCC was satisfied that it had developed a sustainable plan for social care, adaptable for future policy changes.  We greatly enhanced the council’s ability to respond to change.

Client’s assessment

This project demonstrated a tangible understanding of the project scope and clear transferability of tools, approaches and methodology for application to the project requirements. It demonstrated clear and tangible delivery of targeted savings in the first year of at least 5% in each function. There was a clear methodology and plan for knowledge transfer and future enablement (e.g. training etc.).