thisisleicestershire.co.uk reports that the City Council got a bad report from the Audit Commission and if you believe the article fully it does sound like their is room for improvement.
But to tease out some of the targets for the next 18 months in the article:
- Cut phone waiting times from 9 minutes to 1 minute
- Average time to complete a claim to fall from 22.5 to 16 days
- Stop over paying people to the tune of £6m over four years
For the sake of the people of Leicester I wish them the best of luck, because they are going to need it. I am pessimistic because of the quote right at the end of the article from council leader Ross Wilmot, “This set of targets will put us on the path to excellent performance.” But also because “The money will be used to bring in more staff and to open phone lines and buildings for longer, to cut waiting times and speed up claims.”
Having targets and getting more staff isn’t going to help. I would bet a lot of money that the service has massive failure demand. They will have people calling to chase and complain about claims all day. That is why the phone lines are so jammed. If they would study their demand and have a purpose to pay people the right money as quickly as possible, they could then design their service against that demand and I bet they could get rid of most of the calls, visits and letters that they are currently getting, drop the processing times way below the targeted 16 days, to more like 2 or 3 days, and reduce the mistakes in payment to almost zero. And they could do it in a lot less than 18 months.
Thing is they seem to be stuck in the old way of thinking. “We have too much work so we need to spend more money to get more people and we will set targets and that will get the people to do what we want them to do.”
As Deming said, “There is a better way.”