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Ultimate Productivity: Professional Planning Forum July 2015 update





At the start of this month we announced our first winners of the National Planning Awards. 150 members of the planning community attended a fantastic gala dinner to celebrate all things planning and hear the announcement of the Analyst, Manager and Team of the Year.

The second round of workshops for the Productivity Journey were completed with 98 members from 58 organisations attending the 4 workshops. This mid-way point of the journey explored shrinkage forecasting and considerations for different shifts and work-types.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to close day one at this year’s Customer Strategy & Planning Conference taking about our conference theme “Changing Gear” and motivation. One of the references I used was a book by Jim Stovall called “Ultimate Productivity”. Appropriately titled, considering this year’s planning challenge, the book helps you to define what you are wanting to achieve and become more productive. I really like how the book states the difference between productive and active.

“Never confuse activity with productivity. As you look at your daily, weekly and monthly calendars review each item and ask yourself, is this activity or productivity?”

It can be too easy to confuse being active with being productive, if we are not producing results we are just being active. Our Changing Gear theme makes the distinction between going through the motions, or always moving up the gears to work harder and making the conscious decision to dictate the speed of travel and in some instance slowing down or even stopping.

“Learn to work smarter, not harder; quicker, not more hurried; and productively, not just actively.”

The National Planning Awards programme gives planners the opportunity to stop, look and listen, as you reflect over your own performance in order to complete the nomination form, before participating in the Finalists Day where you share your story whilst peer assessing other planning professionals.

This month’s newsletter announces our first National Planning Award winner, the National Planning Conference agenda and analysis techniques from the Productivity Journey. Also, the conference video's are now all live on the Forum TV, via You Tube



Phil Anderson
Senior Customer Contact Specialist
The Forum
01772 797 138

National Planning Awards 2015 – A night to remember

We have just enjoyed a fantastic evening celebrating our inaugural National Planning Awards, where we presented 12 awards to outstanding planning professionals. They were all very worthy winners, but it was tough making the call as the standard of all entrants was high. This resulted in an extremely rigorous and valuable assessment day, last month, involving members, finalists and experts, from which we all learnt a huge amount.

These prestigious new awards showcase excellence in planning and recognised individuals and teams for the first time. It was fantastic to be able to recognise the hard work and success achieved by both these individuals and planning teams. Thank you to everyone for entering and thank you to those who joined us last night. I was really proud to see so many members with us recognising our community’s achievements.

There is another opportunity to hear and see the award winners, at the National Planning Conference to be held later in the year on 8th October 2015. Please do join us there with other members of your team - these awards will become a vital part of the annual calendar of learning and best practice.

The winners and highly commended are:

Team of the Year

The strength of the team short-list was incredibly high, with 12 inspiring teams all making a huge difference in their organisations.

  • Team of the Year – Tesco Bank General Insurance
  • Team Award – Lifestyle Choice & Engagement, LV= Claims Planning Team
  • Team Award – Back Office & Business Partnering, RSA Regions Account Team
  • Team Award – Planning Best Practice Framework, Capita Life & Pensions

Manager of the Year

6 exceptional managers were short-listed for this inaugural year of the National Planning awards providing a competitive short-list who really have set the standard for future years.

  • Manager of the Year – Performance Impact - Phil Coole, LV=
  • Manager of the Year – Engagement & Cultural Transformation - Tracy Johnson, RSA
  • Highly Commended – Paul Rice, American Express

Analyst of the Year

There were 10 short-listed finalists for this year’s Analyst of the year all demonstrating the integral part they each play in their organisation. At the end of the Finalists day the judges were blown away by the standard and commented how they all should be proud of their contribution and difference they are making.

  • Analyst of the Year – Paul Jackson-Moss, Co-operative Banking Group
  • Highly Commended – Steven James, North East Ambulance Service
  • Highly Commended – Helen Smith, RSA
  • Highly Commended – David Van-Velhoven, Geoban
  • Highly Commended – Lucy Mitchell, LV=

Rising Star

Every organisation will have a star in the making, someone who exceeds expectations on a regular basis going beyond their job role and inspiring others with their role model behaviour. The Rising Star award is designed to recognise these people who otherwise may not get the recognition they deserve.

  • Rising Star, Small Operation – Louise Atkinson, Yorkshire Housing
  • Rising Star, Large Operation – Diane Norton, RSA

The following awards were also given to recognise both excellence and contribution to the industry:

The Planning Hero award aims to recognise individuals who are helping to build the planning profession and who are advocating the benefits of planning widely in the industry. Contributing to best practice in planning above and beyond the necessary.

  • Planning Hero Award – Patrick Dinsmore, npower

Central to the development of this community which these awards are representing is Continued Professional Development. We want to recognise those who are displaying role model characteristics of a planning professional who is not only committed to their own professional development but who actively contributes to best practice development and is always willing to help others across the industry.

  • Professionalism Award – Aaron Gourlay, Eurostar International
  • Professionalism Highly Commended – Gavin Symons, LV=

During 2014 the Professional Planning Forum took 162 members, from 52 organisation on a journey to understanding their Volatility & Flexibility. This 12 month programme of activity included 3 workshops, course work and a final statement of completion. We want to recognise those who we feel made a huge contribution not just to the workshops they attended but also in driving change and doing things differently back in their organisations.

  • Challenge Award – Alexander Banks & John Price, Shop Direct
  • Challenge Highly Commended – Steve Barker, British Gas Services
  • Challenge Highly Commended – Sarah Oxer, Concentrix
  • Challenge Highly Commended – Michael Brace & Gemma Cottrell, Motability
  • Challenge Highly Commended – Mark Henderson, NHS Business Services Authority
  • Challenge Highly Commended – Jane Vickers & Kate Gornall, Worcestershire Hub

Contact myself directly or one of my colleagues at or 0333 123 5960 to find out more about how to enter the 2016 awards or for more information about the National Planning Conference on 8th October 2015.

National Planning Conference

This one day conference, to be held on Thursday 8th October in Warrington, is focussed on getting the best out of planning. Directly addressing the needs of planners and managers as well as business leaders, the day offers an inspiring mix of networking, presentations, case studies, round tables and workshops. Depending on your travel arrangements, start late, finish late or join us for a full day of outstanding opportunities. Business Leaders are invited to join us for the 1600 sessions as well as the Leadership Forum event from 18:00.

Fantastic speakers & an outstanding choice of sessions:

  • Unique chance to see all the winners and those highly commended in the National Planning Awards
  • Find out what is new from community experts and learn new tips from practical workshops
  • Specialist streams on Planning for Digital, Back Office and People Planning – as well as new material on Volatility & Flexibility, Field Operations and driving productivity
  • A great opportunity to learn from other professionals, visit the expo and network with other like-minded delegates

See the full agenda

To find out more or book your place contact us or call 0333 123 5960

Innovation Award Site Visits

Have you booked your member place on one of the Innovation Award finalist site visits?This year the range and balance of case studies offers innovation in planning, insight, quality and customer experience – all with the focus on raising standards and meeting increased customer expectations. The level of impact demonstrated by specialist support teams in these organisations is astounding. Confident skilled professionals make innovation a reality.

  • Motability Operations, 8th September. Bristol
  • LV= (Incentives), 9th September. Croydon
  • LV= (homeworking), 16th September. Croydon
  • HMRC & IVR Workshop, 15th September. Cardiff
  • NHS Business Services Authority, 15th September. Newcastle
  • Hughes Insurance, 17th September. Newtownards

Learning & Development: Training

We specialise in professional development for those involved in resource planning, analysis, customer insight or quality in customer contact centres. We offer a range of learning and development programmes to suit the needs of our wider community.

You can choose to enter one of our university accredited programmes, available at a number of entry points and study this as a single programme or work towards the our full BSc degree programme in Customer Contact Planning and Management in association with the University of Ulster. Alternatively, you can select one of our specialist workshops below to address your skill gap.

  • MI & Performance Analysis, Manchester 16th/17th September
  • Planning Insights, Newcastle 17th September
  • Introducing Speech and Text Analytics Workshop, London 23rd September
  • Advanced Certificate, Manchester 24th/25th/26th September (then 5 month programme)
  • Advanced Planning Techniques, Manchester 7th/8th October
  • Real-Time Master Class, Location TBC 21st/22nd October

For more information of our learning & development opportunities please click here

To book on any of these training courses please email:

Planning Challenge 2015: The Productivity Journey

Used at workshop 1 to start the benchmark process and create an easy to read and understand view of 100%.


First published in the Best Practice Guide 2015 (page 16 & 17)

Easy to create to Excel, quite simply all you need is to highlight a data table then select “doughnut chart” from the Pie Chart options.

This type of illustration is easy to read and understand, especially that each category is just one part of a bigger pie. Having sight of 100% was definitely a big take away from workshop 1, and this definitely gives you the whole picture.

Caution is still required when using these method:

Clearly title the chart with the time frame, e.g. monthly, weekly or daily along with if the data being used is actual, forecast or budget, etc…

Be very careful the first time you present this as it can be misinterpreted. I remember the first time I showed a senior manager this view, and their reaction was shock with how little time was spent with customers and immediately wanted to improve this.

Stacked Column Chart

Used for the pre-course work, prior to workshop 2, I choose the stack column chart to visualise the shrinkage forecast; in this example 12 weeks. A stacked column chart is great to compare parts of a whole. Use it to show how segments of a whole change over time.

Having sight of 100% and understanding the break down has been identified as being critical. Using the stack column chart helps us to not only see one time horizon (a single month, or day) but multiple series. For the pre-course work I deliberately started the forecast in a bank holiday week, as experience has told me that these weeks are very different to a typical Monday to Sunday business as usual.

Bridge or Waterfall Graphs

Bridge, or water fall graphs are an effective form of data visualisation. Typically used for understanding how an initial value is affected by a series of intermediate positive or negative values. Usually the initial and the final values are represented by whole columns, while the intermediate values are denoted by floating columns. The columns are colour coded for distinguishing between positive and negative values.

Not quite as easy to create as the pie-chart of stack column chart, a small data table is required the first establish the values before editing a column chart to end up with the above.

These graphs were mentioned during discussions so I will be investigating the best way of using these and how I could incorporate unpaid time and overtime.

Workshop 3 of the Productivity Journey will take place in early November:

  • Manchester, Marriott Victoria & Albert – Tuesday 3rd November 2015
  • Glasgow, Abode Art House Hotel – Thursday, 5th November 2015
  • Newcastle, Marriott Gosforth Park – Tuesday, 10th November 2015
  • Dublin/Belfast*, location/venue tbc – Wednesday, 11th November 2015
  • London, Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre – Thursday, 12th November 2015

If you are already part of the challenge please confirm your place with our events team: Remember if you need to influence and engage with the operation why not bring them along – if we have space they are invited, just let us know as soon as possible so we can confirm their place.

Best Practice Update from around The Forum

Find out what members are up to and what’s new in the Planning Forum world - online, in training or in our events and activities

Sign up to these regular monthly updates here.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming events and training for the Planning Forum.See the websitefor more details:

10th Sept

Innovation Awards Site Visit:HM Revenue and Customs


15th Sept

Innovation Awards Site Visit:NHS Business Services Authority


16th Sept

MI & Performance Analysis


17th Sept

Introduction to Planning Workshop


18th Sept

Innovation Awards Site Visit:LV= (Homeworking)


22nd – 23rd Sept

BSc Year commences


22nd – 24th Sept

Advanced Certificate in Customer Contact Planning and Management


30th Sep - 1st Oct

University Taster Day at Customer Contact Expo



Latest Jobs

For more details on these and a wider range of available positions,look online.

  • Real Time Analyst, Berkshire, £25-£30K + bens
  • Resource Planning & MI Manager, Southport, £30k
  • Resource Planning & Chance Manager, East Midlands, £40-£50K + Bonus + bens
  • Interim Reource Planning Analyst, Bradford, £400-£600pd
  • Senior Resource Planning Manager, South Coast, £54K +bens
  • Resource Planning Analyst, South East £30k +bens
  • Resource Planning Manager, South East, £60K +bens






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