The 2016 Planning Challenge Update

How do we engage our stakeholders and forge new approaches? See the benefits and learning gained by members of the challenge this year, building up credibility and confidence – with real impact on the business.

“It’s been really useful talking with others”
, explains Sue Durey at the AA. “It helps to see solutions … things not originally part of our problem statement … and demonstrate the value of the changes we make”. Read on to see some of the key themes emerging from Planning Teams completing the 2016 Challenge – a year-round programme of comprehensive support for teams tackling their major issues in making planning more effective and value-adding. Caroline Bradley EOC Team Leader at Yorkshire Ambulance, also valued the chance to speak with others “picking up ideas and best practice.” 

  • Yorkshire Building Society – We created 2 week’s worth of capacity within the team by taking time out to improve what we do; that's before we look at what has been saved in the operation, where the benefits of better planning take a bit longer to roll out. For instance, before sending reports we stopped to pull out the “top 5” insights – and the managers said ‘wow’. They could focus on what they needed to do. It's a two-way street. They don’t know what they don’t know and we didn’t spend enough time being really clear with our insight. We have the info but we need to make it really clear and easy to use. 
  • Geoban – Our work is in the back office and we are starting to see improved forecast accuracy now, as a result of what we’ve done through the challenge. We also know where the benefits are flowing from and now I can track these. For us, the key step was getting the right people engaged; I sometimes felt I was spending all my time talking but this is what made my challenge project a success. It’s important to allow enough time for engagement. When this was in place, everything else came together really quickly. 
  • BGL with brands like Budget Insurance & GO Compare  Stakeholder relationships were the focus of our challenge. We started with the May workshop and at times it was ‘start stop’ with a complete change in leadership soon after (within planning and outside). However, we’ve made real progress: any ‘blame culture’ is vanishing and our daily call is now half as long because people have the right information. We do a monthly operations engagement; its off-site and that works well. We also have ‘planning champions’ in every team; we get feedback from them and they’re brilliant for communication. There is more accountability all round, not just planning. Everyone has more defined roles and accountability. 
  • Eurostar – Our challenge was to roll out our new Telopti workforce management system. We were lucky because we had to do it. We put together a change group who worked very positively and the project was a really good success. We implemented preference based schedules, moving our fixed shift to fully flexible, with a 9pm finish … which wasn’t for everyone! People can book preferences from home or at work. We thought it would reduce shift swaps (it hasn't!) but it has cut our resource gaps and the time consuming micro management of time off has saved us 1 person in the planning team. It’s also vastly improved visibility of real time. Engagement has to be the first thing we do, that’s what we’d ‘bake in’ to everything going forwards. 
  • Direct Line Group  We changed our ‘shrinkage’ process because of the challenge. Because we’re a very large planning team, we each specialise (forecasting, scheduling etc) and we’ve focused this year on everyone understanding the end-to-end planning process. We’ve had lots of learning & improvement on handover of each process – planning is easier and this really helps with issues like ‘shrinkage’. Our forecasts are better – our shrinkage forecasts as well. 
  • RS Components  Our challenge was taking planning into our warehouse, where they calibrate electrical equipment. The first issue was the lack of recorded data. You can’t just take averages because the equipment is so different – a ruler, microscope or life support machine have totally different requirements. We’re working alongside a green belt who is measuring and standardising processes; 50% have been finalised so far. 

The Challenge Programme gives people a structure of support to focus on their key problems, capture ideas that have worked in other places and avoid common pitfalls. Feedback from participants highlighted the benefits of meeting others facing similar challenges, but at different points in their journey, and the resources provided by The Forum: the case studies, problem analysis methods, Best Practice Weeks, on-demand learning materials and individual support. Find out how to join the 2017 Challenge

Find out more from the following case studies: Co-operative Bank and Staples

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