Our guest blog this week is from Keith Stapleton, Keith is one of the co-founders of Select Planning; a team of award winning consultants, each with extensive experience and expertise in strategic and operational call centre and back office resource planning. Prior to Select Planning, Keith worked within resource planning at Aviva for over 10 years and has built up an extensive range of expertise and knowledge, as well as an understanding of what makes resource planning successful and of benefit to any business.
Here are Keith’s 5 tips to ensure you are managing the right things in your business planning to get the results you want:.
1) Having the right measurements for the planning team
Measurements across the operation are generally well understood within the planning team, however, the benefits of their integration within the team is less understood. Generally, people feel uncomfortable with measurements that they do not have 100% control over, so consider who in the team should have which measurement. For example; it is commonly accepted that a volume forecast should be accurate within a given % for a given % of the time, but who in the team should have that target? It may be more productive if the manager is ultimately accountable for that measurement, whilst the Forecaster’s targets are focused on them using the correct information, having the best models and the timeliness of forecast delivery.
2) When the numbers stack up but the results don’t, who is to blame?
It is not uncommon to see a plan that looked good on paper, with all the numbers stacking up, yet when the time came the results were not as good as predicted and blame is proportioned to those who provided the information. A ‘blame culture’ can stifles people’s creativity and their willingness to stand up for their beliefs and in effect they can become ‘yes’ people.
The creation of an open and honest culture where discussions take place about what happened and why, will help deliver the solutions avoiding future disappointment. It is important to understand that success looks different to different people, even if the circumstances are the same, agreeing what good looks like, can help people align their objectives. Sharing the successes and challenges brings people together with a common goal, rather than blaming one another, they look to each own and solve the problem as a team.
3) Plans without actions are….?
Your long term plans suggests that you will be under resourced in 6 months due to your winter peek and customer demand. Unless action is taken now it is likely to be too late to have the desired impact. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that you have regular time with the right people to discuss what needs to happen to secure customer service in the future.
Putting your point of view across is important and as you are centre stage, you need to make it count. Think about the key messages and what information supports them, tell the story yourself and use a presentation, or pack supported by pertinent facts and figures in graphical, or written form. If you need to paint an honest picture of what will happen if no action is undertaken don’t be afraid of rocking the boat, but having solutions ready will ensure that actions will not be far behind.
4) Opinions count for everything
We can focus on the statistics too much with numbers being calculated to fractional points, so when asked to give an opinion it is not uncommon to reply with numbers. Some people like, or even need to understand all the numbers, however, some don’t and this becomes more the case the higher up the chain of command you go within a company. Giving an opinion can cut to the chase.
As long as your opinion is supported by the numbers, a simple yes, or no, can reduce a prolonged and detailed reply. Of course, it is not often your opinion would consist of one word, so when sharing information summarise with recommendations and ask questions to keep the conversation moving and engaging.
5) Creativity engages the business
A deficit in the staff available required to deliver service doesn’t automatically mean recruitment is the only option available, with some creativity you can engage the business and deliver more effective solutions. If you look at each part of the business separately, it can be difficult to see the opportunities that exist between them. It is not uncommon for a business to have busier periods than others, so understanding the whole of the business allows you to utilise staff across different teams and departments before turning to recruitment.
It sounds easy, however the reality is staff knowledge and training will have to be developed in advance to allow this to happen successfully. If the ebbs and flows of different parts of the business are consistent you can build training and required development time in to your plans and costs.
What do you think: Do you have any tips that have worked well in your organisation or any thoughts on these tips? Please do comment here and let us know.