You hear consultants talking about making savings through Transformation and using Lean techniques but its quite unusual to have practical examples of how savings have actually been achieved. Last week at SOCITM East, we heard a great presentation from Laura McGilivray, Chief Executive of Norwich City, talking about how they had recovered from a £6m deficit and a cut in CSR of £8.9m. The required saving was £13.5m from a spend of £55m.
Laura made specific reference to Revenues and Benefits. Average time to process benefit claims was 37 days. To save money 2nd class post was used. Frequently this led to an exchange of correspondence before all the evidence was gathered to process the claim. Using Lean techniques, the claimant was contacted direct by telephone and asked if the could come in the same or next day and could they please bring items A and B etc. Overall a much quicker turnaround and the public welcomed the change. As a result average processing time was reduced to 11 days and more significantly, the change saved 7 jobs.
Introducing change is all about changing attitudes. Everything was translated into jobs - not providing tea and biscuits at meetings? How many jobs will it save? Diaries for members when everything is published in-line? Sharing City Hall with other public sector bodies?
Significantly, the cash office has closed. What about the disadvantaged without bank accounts, and Norwich's share of the 8.7m who have never used the Internet? Well Norwich turned the negative into a positive. To achieve the saving required a plan to help the cash office users. First requirement was identify them - who were they and when did they use the service. Once identified, they then provided a focused service - advising them of the change and hand holding them through the on-line alternatives. So a double-header that not only saved money but also took on digital inclusion.
Laura explained the Norwich vision is to develop the 'knowledge economy' (Norwich is already one of the top 10 UK economies) building on the strong enterprise in the City. It was good to hear such a strong advocate with a vision and drive to make things happen. I blogged back in January (see earlier posts) of how the economic downturn was not all negative and should be treated as an opportunity to re-invigorate services. Norwich appears to have taken this on with a vengeance. Its not all positive - there is a further £8.3m to save - but I kind of think they will get there.