Edge Public Solutions appointed to deliver up to £5 million in efficiency savings over the next 3 years
11th June 2013.
Doncaster Council has recently appointed EDGE public solutions to assist in transforming its Transport and Construction Services operations over the next three years.
Positive long-term vision
The senior management team have a positive long-term vision for the Council and the will to tackle the tough changes required to optimise the efficiency of the organisation. To this end, Edge started working with DC on strategic improvement initiatives in March 2012 and over the intervening months has completed in-depth reviews in Transport and Construction Services to evaluate the performance of the current operations and to develop long-term improvement plans aimed at delivering multi million pound savings across all the key elements of the two services.
The EDGE reviews comprised a ‘root and branch’ evaluation of how Doncaster delivered transport and construction services and was undertaken hand in hand with the DC management and operational teams. Staff at all levels were fully engaged to ensure that no detail was missed and that the proposed solutions had full ‘buy-in’ across the Council. This means that the improvement plan generated by the review is robust and the Doncaster senior management and directors have full confidence that it will deliver real, tangible cost reductions with no loss of service or adverse impact on service quality.
Substantial transport responsibilities costing £15 million annually
Doncaster is the largest metropolitan borough in the UK and has substantial transport responsibilities ranging from Special Educational Needs home to school transport, through wider Social Care transport, to fleet procurement, vehicle maintenance and a new pool car scheme. Providing these services costs the Council over £15M per annum. EDGE looked at all these elements in a holistic way, generating a list of improvement options at both individual service / function level and at an overall management and integration level.
Key initiatives agreed for the transport arena include the introduction of electronic tendering in passenger transport – a step change given that all tendering to date has been paper based – along with new specialist systems to improve processes, led by a new Fleet Management Information technology (FMIT) system which will both reduce manual administration tasks and provide vastly improved data to support better fleet management. These major changes will be supported by a reduction in overall fleet size, streamlined procurement processes and an improved pool car scheme. To bring all these initiatives together effectively, an Integrated Transport Unit will also be created to provide a single point of responsibility and oversight for transport operations for the future.
In-depth review of construction services
Similarly, the in-depth review of Construction Services embraced all core department operations from the management and delivery of construction projects, delivery of professional services (including building design, structural and mechanical engineering and surveying) and the effectiveness of a substantial in-house trade workforce. Whilst costing less than transport, at some £10M per annum, and being impacted by the uncertainty of pressure on traditional income streams, the construction services review nonetheless identified the potential to introduce a number of positive changes including; integrating the management team to align capability with real demand, rebalancing the skills mix within the trade workforce, potential integration with the housing maintenance operation and stores consolidation. Again these major initiatives were supported by a range of cultural change measures such as improved performance management, more accurate income forecasting and better use of information technology.
Responsibility to deliver
The EDGE partnership with Doncaster has not ended with the completion of the service reviews however; EDGE does not simply generate a schedule of potential improvements and walk away. Core to the EDGE philosophy is that the EDGE team should be directly involved the delivery of the initiatives they identify. The advantages of this ‘partnership’ approach include providing expert resource to cover the peak in workload always required by a major transformation and providing ‘hands-on’ support for the change program to ensure long-term, sustainable improvement and guaranteeing effective delivery.
But this is how we’ve always done it
As always, the key to success in major change projects such as those underway in Doncaster is to gradually move away from the ‘this how we have always done it’ mind-set and to embrace the positive impact that flows from a fresh approach, new systems and innovative thinking. This approach however takes time; introducing sustainable change is not a ‘quick fix’ that can be introduced overnight, but is a gradual process than needs a new perspective on ‘business as usual’ at all levels in the organisation, supported by key structural and systems changes, to be effective. All members of DC staff need to adapt to new ways of working and need support, in both technical and capacity terms, to complete that adaptation effectively.
Integral to the change programme
EDGE has a team based on site, working hand-in-hand with Council managers and staff, to introduce changes that will deliver between £3M and £5M worth of sustainable revenue spend reductions over the next three years. EDGE staff are integral to the change program, providing resource to enable key initiatives to be introduced and co-ordinating the change process. EDGE managers also work with council managers to drive the financial progress of the projects, which are currently ahead of target and on track to deliver as planned.
Fundamental change guaranteed
The DMBC management team have identified that a deep fundamental change will be essential in taking the Council forward from a challenging start point and in preparing for the financial and service challenges that the future holds. They see the partnership now in place with EDGE public solutions as the most effective way to achieve that fundamental change in a way that guarantees real, tangible results and creates effective and flexible capability to deliver efficient Council operations well into the future.