A few weeks ago I wrote about how the Scottish Government had (in my opinion) got the solution to public sector planning badly wrong. (Local Authority Planning - How the government and the lean gurus got it wrong.) They had thought that the matter was merely about getting cases in clean. Whilst this is an issue (for most organisations) it’s really only the tip of the planning iceberg when it comes to making a change.
You see simply putting in a pre-application process actually means that for some, they are now looking at the application twice and therefore have more (not less) work to do.
The pre-app is important but so is the method by which it’s carried out. I believe the that government’s intent was to simply have a quick meeting or phone call prior to application being sent in, to make sure everything was fit for purpose. But that doesn’t seem to be the way it’s working. I’d be keen to hear from you if you either support or have an alternative view of our findings.
However the pre-app isn’t really the big problem. As I’ve blogged about before, the issue is the performance indicators combined with the volume of work pushed to the planners. As they (the planning officers) are trying their best to do a bit of work on all the cases in their queue, what actually happens is that everything takes longer. Some planners have openly told me that if an application goes over the statutory indicator they leave it, it’s already late so they’re better concentrating on the ones that they can get through in time.
The result of this is that two people suffer: the customer, who may have to wait an inordinate amount of time to get a decision and the planner, who is under a great deal of stress to do a ‘bit of everything’.
The fault lies not with the planners but with the government and management who refuse to see that setting an arbitrary target, pushing work to the planners and focusing on utilising and activity rather than throughput has actually made the system worse.
So what’s the answer? Dougal Mather one of our project experts in Vanguard (Scotland) has written a comprehensive report and made a video that lays out exactly what you need to do to fix the problem.
Also bear in mind that the solution here is not just for planning departments but any environment which has casework as the work method. You can get the video and report here.
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