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Efficiency and Productivity
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TOPIC: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced?

Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 11 months, 2 weeks ago #1

How do you work within tightening spending limits while maintaining quality and service to the customer?

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 11 months ago #2

There are really only two choices: do less or get more efficient. The first of these seems to be the most common response; “budgets are tighter so we need to decide what to cut”... but it doesn’t have to be like this. Although hard-pressed staff might not feel like there is anyway maintaining services with reduced numbers, inefficiencies are often a result of poor scheduling and deployment of staff. It is not the staff’s fault if time is not well used. Often improved planning and time management can allow more to be done – without putting people under any more pressure.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 11 months ago #3

This is not a new conundrum although the current economic situation makes it a more difficult one as cuts deepen. The motto of Hoover, the vacuum cleaner maker, used to be 'Quality is rememberd long after cost is forgotten.' That is true in procurement also. The secret of success is a successful balancing act between these two seemingly mutually exclusive drivers. Quality is driven by innovation, efficiency and tailored services delivered by a motivated workforce backed by forward-looking management. Within the public sector there is often waste and bureaucracy which is not present in private companies. PFI is a prime example of what can be achieved. Norman Rose

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 3 weeks ago #4

It can be maintained for a while, however it gets harder as products are changed and then there is no where else to go, so what happens next?

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 3 weeks ago #5

As you use up your reserve then I think the quality of services will be greatly reduced.
Last Edit: 10 months, 3 weeks ago by Scott Buckler.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 3 weeks ago #6

A dilemma with known limits of resources and user base. There appears to be little lleeway with resources ... as total resources are more or less fixed while competition and demand for the resources remains fierce.
Yet can demand be reduced in qualitive and quantive terms and what would be the result over time when we compare the resource cost of reducing demand against using that same resource cost to meet existing demand?

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 3 weeks ago #7

This government said they wouldn't cut money to the NHS but I believe they are trying to free up the amount being wasted.

How about putting a proper fee system in place for foreigners which must be collected on discharge. They will get the service free at the point of entry but must either leave their credit card or supply a guarantor. I understand something like this is in place but money is rarely collected. Is this because someone can't be bothered? We live in an age when just about everyone is being tracked. The NHS loses millions in this way.

The biggest cost to the NHS is manpower - let's get some innovative, and competent human resources people in who can streamline that department with logic and common sense.

How about employing all our own graduates before bringing in expensive freelance doctors from Europe and employing less agency nurses should also be looked at.
Whenever taxpayers money is the sole income of any organisation, people tend to treat it with less respect. Anyone supplying services to it will increase their prices and look for long term tie-ins. We need good negotiators who understand the need for efficient use of tax payers money.

Start using the co-operative business structure to separate certain parts of the NHS which can be supplied locally by ex-professionals from the NHS.
There are many departments which could be run independently resulting in more accountability and manageability.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 2 weeks ago #8

Emma, I agree totally. this is an educational issue within both the public sector anc private service providers. Not enough has been done to change the perception which you mention. The same is true across Europe. Hopefully the conference will address some of these issues. You may be interested in the EP4 LinkedIn group which is addressing tehse issues. Norman

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 2 weeks ago #9

By thinking of a new ways of working efficienties and reviewing costs, innovation can be harnessed, this can bring a qualitive element to service review.Added new ideas and approaches can enhance the quality element of the service.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 1 week ago #10

Operating in the print industry, I will give my point of vue from this angle.

People often stumble at the first hurdle when they purchase print. They have a budget, they get a quote and they choose the lowest price to pay for their print, which is then delivered and stored in a stationery cupboard. The process seems simple when you take it at face value however how much money could be saved if a little more attention was paid to what is being purchased, how it is purchased and why?

We make recommendations which save our clients time and money – it sounds clichéd but we look at the procurement process from order right through to delivery and beyond. Now more than ever public sector organisations are dealing with tighter budgets and with a simple print audit they could identify where further costs could be saved.

As an example, one central point of procurement could result in better economies of scale. A good printer should also ask what each printed document is used for, as it may be more economical to create a simple online document, eliminating the need for printing altogether.

During difficult times and when budgets are scrutinised it is important that people work smarter – not necessarily harder. At Paragon we support our clients during this process and would advise any company that has a print spend to break down their budgets in order to make sure they are getting genuine value for money.

Remember it isn’t always about unit cost, but more about the money and the time that you can save through a smarter approach to procurement.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 1 week ago #11

Very good point made by Emma about how improved planning and time management can help imporve efficiency. Asta have produced a Resourcing white paper which is available to download in the Resources area of this website in the Local Government section which addresses this topic in detail that could be of interest.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 10 months, 1 week ago #12

Interestingly that by improving quality you will reduce costs, thus the posed question is perhaps the wrong way round. For instance a failure rate of one in a thousand missed collections for waste collection, can add 10% to the total cost of collection. It is far cheaper to do the correct job in the first place, than have all the hassle of going back to correct errors.


I've been invited into this group as the Operations Director of the Deming Alliance, not an organisation that is set to revere Deming, but to ensure we translate all that is possible for the benefit of society today.

Look at highways and pot-holes, a London Borough was spending £3/4M a year on insurance claims, so they worked out how to fill eight times as many holes a day, we retained the size of the workforce, spent more money on highways, thus improving infrastructure, while paying out less for claims, and ambulance chasing solicitors. A solid win win. There are many more examples, BUT my experience is that Quality can be improved, infrastructure invested in, and budgets can reduce.
Last Edit: 10 months, 1 week ago by Dave Gaster. Reason: Spacing

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 9 months, 3 weeks ago #13

Ask the people on the front line what stops them providing a quality service.  You may find that they will refer to processes imposed upon them by people who do not understand how to deliver.  They can help to redesign their roles in a way that saves money, improves quality, and gives them greater job satisfaction.

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 9 months, 2 weeks ago #14

@Richard, actually a bigger issue in Local Government services is not simply processes designed by people not doing the work, its the fascination with seperating Strategy from operations. In LG you also have Whitehall strategy written with little or no linkage to local needs.
Creating some useful information and enabling a positive feedback loop between strategy and operations makes massive differences. Take Parking Services for instance, if the Strategy is written blind (or nearly so) of operations, Traffic Regulation Orders are drafted without cognisance of how they are enforced, then every stage of the way will be 'sub-optimised'. If the right information is created, shared and acted upon, then net income could improve by £100,000 a month. Yes done that, been there, have the tee shirt! Look at the question at the top of the page. Its perfectly possible to improve quality and reduce costs, by learning to work together! Simples!

Re: Is it possible to maintain quality and service if spending is being reduced? 4 months ago #15

Some very good responses above. Yes, it is perfectly possible.

My background is in manufacturing (for 30 years) and the changes that have been made across the industry are astounding. Essentially it's about process improvement - not doing less, just doing what you do as efficiently and smoothly as possible. As others have said processes MUST be designed by the people doing them, given the freedom to implement a system that works.

"Right first time" does save an awful lot of rework, and every time you're re-doing the last job the next lot are piling up awaiting attention. It's a downward spiral from there.

Two popular terms in manufaturing are "VOC" - the Voice of the Cuctomer, and "Value.

VOC constantly asks "How does this process deal with the customers problem effectively and efficiently?" and Value constantly challenges "Is there any added value in what I'm doing?" Yes, there are some non-value-added tasks but legislation and regulations/traceability mean they have to be done, but make them seamless and simple.

If I can help let me know, I spent a lomg time on process improvement and value-added teams
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