Much later than anyone expected, we are now beginning to plan our returns to offices. For operations leads, while the focus is inevitably on people’s safety and wellbeing, plans should also include Recovery Planning – what do you do with the work that hasn’t been done and what should future operational priorities be?
Virtual piles of outstanding work won’t make anyone feel better, so sharing business recovery plans with your people is an important way to reassure them as they return to work.
Before you can plan, you need to know the size of the problem. A pandemic lessons learned and decisions log will be a good starting point. But inevitably, low value, less contentious activities such as diary chasers, queries, claims updates and low value endorsements may not have made it to the to-do list. More critically, financial activities such as credit control and aged debtor management may have slipped. You will also have internal processes such as mid-year performance reviews which may have been suspended during remote working alongside new projects that have been informed by recent experience. Specifically, you now need to know what work is now outstanding and how much of it – ideally by volume, effort required and value (to your business).
What’s the priority?
Once you know what work is outstanding and how much there is of each type, you can start to prioritise. You may have hard stops such as regulatory requirements or financial year-end that will inform decisions but otherwise, complete an impact assessment of each work type to inform ranking. Don’t forget to consider the people and reputational impact of work undone as well as the monetary value. There are then two schools of thought – tackle the most impactful issues first or reduce the number of individual backlogs, eliminating the white noise so you’re only left with the real issues.
Assuming day-to-day work volumes continue at expected levels (so people are busy doing their day jobs). What are your options?
- Do nothing (for now)
It may be appropriate to deliberately defer (or indeed not action) some activities. This could be a very valid decision for things such as internal projects and processes or BAU aged work such as static claims.
- Be more efficient – get more from your people
It’s quite possible that your pandemic planning and working has revealed a great deal of cross-skilling and collaborative working. Capitalise on that when things revert to business as usual – sharing work across teams allows better use of cyclical troughs. Alternatively, you may want to implement improved technology or processes to improve efficiency and mitigate any future remote working challenges. The idea and opportunity may be a good one, but any changes will require proactive change management to avoid change fatigue – 2020 has been hard yards for everyone.
- Get more resource
Again, use recent experience to inform how remote working increases options for additional resource – either overtime, short-term or permanent.
Overtime may or may not be an option – a positive impact of pandemic working has been a greater focus on employees’ wellbeing, but discussion with your teams may reveal they’re more open to it than you may think. Consider being creative and reward based on outcomes rather than time.
If your own people can do no more, additional resource can be sourced as contractors or a managed service. Consider the location and day-to-day management of any extra people though – you may well not have space in your office so how would they be clear on objectives, gain traction and engage with business owners? If you are outsourcing the management, be clear on timeframes and expected outcomes as well as cost.
r10’s capabilities help our clients to shape technology and managed service solutions to address specific workload or backlog activity. Get in touch if you would like to find out more details.
Author: Helen Dines