The Not so Mad Scientists – Back Office Planning for All

For our Guest Blog, this week we welcome back Keith Stapleton, a resource planning specialist and founder of Select Planning Limited. Over to Keith..

The Not so Mad Scientists - Back Office Resource Planning from Keith Stapleton Select Planning

I have observed and helped those involved with life and death situations, within the emergency services, as well as those helping customers with their finances, home utilities and more besides.

Just when you think you have seen it all, an opportunity arises that sits in “left field” that you know you can’t say no to.

This happened recently when I was approached to help a scientific laboratory with their long-term resource planning, or to be more precise their lack of it.

Now when I say resource I need to explain that I mean people and machines not just the people resources.

Upon my first visit it was obvious that this was a very alien environment to me, with not a telephone in sight, instead huge machines with pipes emerging from every angle and every so often, a glimpse of a white coat, as it swept round the corner at the end of one of the many long corridors…..

What was familiar, was the need and desire to understand the long-term resource challenges so the business could take steps to manage their workforce and workload better and more consistently. Enabling them to deliver a more efficient and cost productive operation.

 The challenge:

To implement both work based forecasting and resource planning, using the information and data they already had. (It would be very easy to inform a client what the ideal data set and its availability should be).

The important information needed was identified as being:

  • Historic work completion volumes
  • Historic staff numbers and availability
  • Historic machine utilisation

The solution:

Caution Effective Back Office Resource Planning Blog Douglas Jackson Keith Stapleton

The forecasting model and resource plans used the analysis of the data as a basis to create the assumptions for work volumes and resource requirements.

The initial modelling could be challenged as it didn’t include the particulars of each test type. This is a familiar challenge within back office resource planning and can lead to the need for the aforementioned ideal data set before any planning can commence.

It is a common assumption that the more detail you add to a forecast and resource plan the more you get out, but the reality is you invite more challenges ( which is an ideal cycle for the detractors to invite the ‘eager to please’ planner in and a difficult one them to break out of.

Working with such an exact profession such as scientists, you can be excused for assuming they expect their future to be as precise as their test results, but through this exercise were they able to move from ‘just coping’ to a position of having much greater control across their resources (both man and machine).


Through a proven, tried and tested formula of data analysis, insight and trend identification, an effective resource model and future work-flow forecast was created and resource planning tools implemented, which has given this customer the  means to plan their business using the right knowledge and intelligence.

My experience left me asking, if scientists can accept a future built on understanding and accepting the inconsistencies of the past, why can’t other organisations who could equally benefit from effective back office resource planning?  Perhaps the scientists are not the mad ones, after all their back office planning has made a strong start….

What do you think? Have you seen effective resource planning in play in a back office environment, or, are you considering planning for a team, or department you may not have previously considered a forecast for? Do let us know by leaving your comments here.

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.

About Douglas Jackson Executive Search and Recruitment Consultants

Douglas Jackson are an Executive Search and Independent Recruitment Consultancy offering professional executive recruitment and managerial appointments on a permanent and fixed term contract basis. We work with customer and experience focussed organisations, who want to develop, or, improve their operation, sales, strategy, service, experience, or success. We recruit for Chief Customer Officer, Director, Head of Department, Manager and skilled strategists for; Customer Service, Customer Experience, Customer Contact, Resource Planning, Operations, Strategy, Insight, Analytics, Sales, Success, CRM, Data, Programmes, Transformation, Continuous Improvement, and Contact Centre. We work in partnership with our customers across the UK and internationally, many of whom are FTSE 100, blue-chip brands but also challenger, fintech and start-up organisations, to design, develop, deliver and manage your Customer strategy. Revolutionise your Recruitment and Retention of New Hires. Douglas Jackson Search takes the guesswork out of your hiring. Sourcing Exceptional Talent….Define your Customer Strategy. Lead your Operations. Design your Customer Experience. Direct your Digital and Customer Contact. Transform your functions. Develop your Customer Insight. Manage your Data/CRM, Deliver your Sales and Customer Success. Differentiate your business and brand.
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