Piloting a government agency to success.
Improving performance to hit payment targets.
Delay in payment cycle
In late 2007 a government payments agency was mid-way through the third year of operating a new payments scheme. After a difficult start, targets were being broadly achieved. Having reached operational stability, the agency felt it was time to review operating practices and seek out opportunities for process improvement, whilst continuing to raise the quality of customer service.
An analysis of the scheme’s operations was undertaken, and a two-fold approach agreed:
1) Review and analyse to assess the ‘performance gap’ and to clearly articulate the ‘size of the prize’ – what could be achieved in operational improvement, how it could be achieved, and in what timescales.
2) Implementation of some of the opportunities identified to provide tangible illustration of the benefits. Also to demonstrate the value of embedding learning and skills transfer during the implementation of operational process improvement.
It was found that one department in a payments site (a team of around 50 staff), was under operational pressure and lagging behind other payment teams. This was due to additional specialist task requirements, and had the potential to delay completion of the whole scheme’s payment cycle.
Operations improvement and skills transfer
Using the identified ‘lagging’ team as a pilot, process improvement solutions were developed at two levels, underpinned by:
- Improvements to basic Operations Management routines, primarily:
- Workload assessment
- Performance Management
- Team communications
- Basic process definition
- Capacity planning
- Coaching of line managers in the new routines
- Assessment of opportunities to improve processes and Work Organisation using a ‘process user group’ methodology to allow experienced front-line staff to develop the ‘one best way’ for core processes, removing waste and improving output and quality performance.
The work in the pilot also allowed interaction with internal specialist support teams and the transfer of process improvement skills to the staff directly involved in its implementation.
20% increase in capacity
The performance uplift led directly to completion of the payment cycle within the required target time.
The success in the pilot area was able to ‘bring to life’ the required ‘improvement journey’ for senior management. This led directly to the implementation of a comprehensive, self-funded, process improvement programme across the agency.