How to save money in the public sector the right way

We were running a series of workshops recently and have been really struck by a few emerging themes about making savings well, and how this impacts on those who are required to manage through the turmoil. At one session, we were discussing some of the amazing things that they are doing in Manchester and the work we’re supporting on domestic violence. Assistant Chief Consultable Rebekah Sutcliffe has been leading this along with Chief Superindent Neil Evans (two of my absolute public sector heroes, seriously these people are inspirational and the work is among the highlights of my career!) with fantastic support from the PCC, Jamie Hopwood and funding from the Home Office. We were talking about how the new model that is being driven is a once in a career opportunity to build a brand new service from the ground up based on evidence and data that fundamentally changes the system and tackles genuine need, probably for the first time ever. Oh and it also happens to be substantially cheaper. Those at the workshop were truly inspired by this and quite right too (“Now I remember – THIS is why we came into the public sector – to make a difference to citizens, residents and communities”). But… in their context this wasn’t how it was. One comment was “great stuff, but for us we’re down to banning post-it notes and cancelling training courses”. Now this can work, after all British Cycling has transformed the sport by focussing on all the minor details (the 1% ‘marginal gains’ that add up to a big impact). We’re great fans of this model,...

Could chance factors be ending many a promising career?

For our own amusement we’ve built a simulator of the English football Premiership results (we’re like that) which very faithfully replicates the real results. The results should be a case study lesson in understanding events beyond your control. The chart shows the number of points scored by each team and their position in the table after 12 games in the season as the results emerged from one run of the simulation (blue line). So the team leading the table has scored 27 points. In contrast the bottom team has only scored 5. Meanwhile, in the real world the situation after 12 games this season is shown in the orange line. As you can readily see the simulation very faithfully replicates what has actually happened and it would be very hard to tell them apart. We also looked at the average points per game, goal difference, away and home results and they also look very much like the real thing. Looking at this, we suspect that the poor manager in team at the bottom of the table will be feeling a certain amount of heat. Maybe they will even lose their job in the very near future, if they haven’t already. In contrast, the manager of the leading team and the players will be looking forward to a richly deserved bonus cheque and a very healthy transfer fee. All well and good you might say. But there is a catch. The results from the simulation are generated entirely at random! Absolutely no skill, form, cunning tactics or mojo involved whatsoever. With all the money that rides on results in the...

How to get 57 percent more value from your capital programme.

  Download this blog as a pdf Introducing a better way to prioritise projects A tall order? Maybe, but we’ve recently completed work for a major UK Government agency and improved outcomes by 57% within the existing budget. The issue. The organisation was under pressure to deliver more from its capital programme despite severe financial constaints and a need to demonstrate that it was delivering the best value for money that it possibly could. The programme we were given is very complex; 3,500 projects and £1.8b spend. The question was which schemes to fund to delivery maximum value? As most people do, the current approach was to include the schemes that contribute most to the goals first and then keep adding more projects until all the resources are fully allocated. This is the ‘Big First’ strategy and it’s a good one. For simple programmes it can often achieve up to 70% of what is possible. But is there a better way? Imagine a list of 10 possible projects. Big First, says start with the two largest. But if these consume all the available resources then the remaining eight are left unfunded. But what if taking out one of the two largest projects frees up capacity to undertake three or four of the slightly smaller ones. And what if this was a better overall result? Or what if there were others ways to select schemes? With only 30 potential projects on the ‘to do’ list this becomes impossible ‘by hand’. If you tried a dozen options a minute, every minute since the Big Bang you would still not have scratched the surface....

Shared services are saving costs for Local Authorities, but not all are created equal UPDATED FOR 2016

Shared services in Local Government is big news. But who is achieving best results and how are they doing it? The LGA have published the latest results showing the savings being achieved already. We have analyzed this data to find who is making savings, what type of shared services give best results and what size of partnerships should be pursued? This an update  on the figures that the LGA produced last year and our analysis of it. There is clear evidence of continued impact, but more so in some cases than others. For last year’s results please see our 2015 slide pack, contact us or visit the LGA shared services map at  www.local.gov.uk/shared-services-map. For information on training to improve your shared services and collaborative leadership contact our good friends at Shared Service Architects. We are very grateful to the LGA for providing the data and sense checking the outputs for us.     Share...