Sharing more resources
27 May 2015
Anthony Singleton, Executive Director for Services
Across public services resources are tight. Local authorities, like many state organisations, are reducing the number of staff they employ. Logic dictates that if service levels are not to fall, then efficiency must increase. That is the fundamental challenge that most of our clients face.
Sharing resources is a commonly considered option. And this strategy works particularly well where staff are performing tasks that do not provide a constant workload, for example Single Person Discount Reviews. Using business service providers to undertake the reviews ensures that where data suggests claimants may not be eligible they are contacted to confirm their current circumstances.
Keeping appropriately trained staff for such irregular activity is often not possible and as a result many authorities don’t chase as often and as hard as they could. A report from the Audit Commission suggests that over £90m is claimed incorrectly across the country, which points to the fact that many councils are struggling to find time to run effective checks on claimants.
As a business service provider, we are able to share resources across multiple clients and charge clients for only what they need. Services are delivered from our business hubs that specialise in particular activities, so results are often better than authorities would achieve on their own.
An additional benefit is that payment can be linked to results, with risk effectively taken on by the provider. If the estimated volume of savings can’t be found then the cost to client is reduced accordingly; not something that is possible when it’s your own staff undertaking the work.
Pay as you go
Another key role for business process services is automating manual processes. On their own, local authorities struggle to find the investment needed to fund the large scale IT solutions required to automate manual processes, even though the benefits can be huge.
The handling of inbound and outbound post provides a case in point. Many authorities spend considerable time and resource on unpacking and scanning incoming mail, and printing and packing outgoing mail. Document Management solutions can reduce the manual involvement in these processes, but the investment required is beyond many authorities.
Business service providers can spread the investment across many clients and provide electronic mailroom services on a transaction-based model. Inbound mail is scanned and indexed, outbound mail is securely printed and packed in order to provide a digital records and archive of all mail items.
Using shared infrastructure and processing centres through a transaction-based payment model can provide the savings without requiring the upfront investment. For example, one of our clients, a Metropolitan Borough Council, was able to save on £2 million pounds by reducing the manual involvement in mail processing. Payment is based on the number of mail items being processed so that the authority can clearly see the link between the activity and the cost.
Working with business service providers can allow organisations to deliver high quality services, get costs down and keep revenue high, relieving the pressure from growing demand and shrinking budgets.