16 May 2012

Murphy's the name; Customer Services is the game

Sent: 11 May 2012 12:18
To: Local Taxation Group; Housing Benefit - All Staff; Revenues Control Group; Coles, Paul
Cc: Burns, Robert; Gregson, John; Burgess, John (Unison); Taylor, Julie; Travers, Andrew; Hooton, John; Hamilton, Iain; Doody, Lauren; Cox, Andrew
Subject: Update on the Revenue and Benefits Review
Dear Colleagues,
As part of the ongoing commitment to making sure you are up to date with what is happening within the service, there are two important pieces of progress that I would like to make you aware of:
Firstly: having now undertaken a number of one to one meetings with staff, Trade Union meetings and dealing with questions that have been raised in the drop box, one of the key messages to come from you was that many of you felt strongly that Team Leader-level support with service skills should be put in place in the parts of the service transferring to the Contact Centre. I have therefore reconsidered this and agreed to revisit the original structure, with as a result two additional Team Leader roles now being introduced into the Contact Centre. The question is will any manager really want to work in a call centre or will they all be up the job centre?
Selection to these roles will be on an application process, since assimilation using Managing Organisational Change principles will not reasonably apply, and this process will be ring-fenced to those in Team Manager and Senior Officers roles that are displaced through any reductions at these levels. Hopefully the staff can work out if they are allowed to apply for their own job back or not.
More details will of course be made available to those directly affected, but the current expectation is that to support the transferring teams with subject area knowledge that one person from each of Revenues and Benefits will likely undertake these roles. Maybe they will apply and maybe they won't.
In addition, I have asked John Gregson to re-look at the span of control in relation to the revenues structure. Put your spectacles on John when doing this please.
Secondly: As you know, following the opening of consultation on 3 & 4 April respectively, we have commenced individual consultation sessions to discuss the change proposal with the Revs & Bens team in more detail.
We have approached these sessions in a way that ensures that those at risk of potential redundancy have already had an early opportunity to meet with us. As part of this process we have discussed the proposed approach to reaching informed decisions and confirming how and when we intend to move forward with these. The outcome of these meetings is that there is agreement that we should seek to confirm decisions on roles as soon as reasonably possible so that we minimise the period of uncertainty. Stop jerking us around may have been the real thought.
We are therefore now in a position to confirm the appointments to both the Transition and Senior Operational Management teams (below). Over the coming weeks these roles will start to take shape and I ask that you please offer any support that you can through the transition period. I will let you know the precise change over date towards the end of next week. Please can someone explain to Mr Mustard if the transition team end up jobless at the end of the transition?
Operational Managers
· Revenues Operations Manager – Maxine Kirby
· Benefits Operations Manager – Patricia Driver
· Control & Support Operations Manager – Jonathan Wooldridge
 Transition Team – Project Implementation Managers
· Mick Bradburn
· Ann Buchanan
· Rowena Gates
· Steve Langley

Consultation meetings are currently being undertaken with the Team Manager & Senior Officers, and meetings with members of the Officer team, if they haven’t been already, are being diarised to take place over the coming 10 days.
We have now lodged answers to well over 100 questions that you have raised via the questions box and the OneBarnet email box. The consultation meetings that are now under way provide the opportunity for you to raise any remaining questions directly with your line manager. I have therefore decided to discontinue the questions box and the use of the One Barnet email address as vehicles for answering questions, and rightly place this responsibility with line managers.
I am aware that many of you have raised pertinent questions (the people who raised impertinent questions will be found and punished) regarding detailed organisational responsibilities in the new structure, and the management workshop on 17 May will address these matters (because I missed them as it's all new to me). I have asked managers to nominate relevant subject matter experts to participate in this workshop and to extend the invitation to them. (as otherwise I won't be able to answer)

I would like to remind colleagues (surely that you haven't forgotten) that the objectives of the transformation of Revenues and Benefits continue to be:
· To meet the financial challenges that have been set for the service and that all in the public sector have been charged with achieving,
· To ensure that our service to the citizens and businesses of Barnet is maintained and approved, and (oh dear Bill, I think you have codded this up, should "approved" be "improved". Do you spit out so much buzzword bingo that this didn't get noticed)
· To ensure that the service is set up to respond well to external initiatives including localisation of Council Tax support, Universal Credit and the NSCSO

I am determined that we will succeed in all three of these objectives and we are making good progress towards them (proof?). Over the coming weeks and months we will be transferring parts of the service into the Corporate Contact Centre, bringing increased flexibility and resilience in dealing with peaks in customer demand, starting a pilot of a new benefits claims process aimed at reducing average process times from 18 days down to 5 days, and implementing new continuous improvement processes to embed learning from experience in the service.
I know this is a challenging time – with lots of change and uncertainty – however I would not be doing this unless I had confidence that collectively we had the skills and experience to see it through. If I am wrong I can just move on to another council at my eye-popping daily rate and leave the whole sorry mess behind me and not be penalised one penny piece for bad management..
Bill Murphy

Assistant Director, Customer Services
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Mobile 07847 188 983 (do please telephone me with absolutely any query about your council tax or your benefits claim- I am here to help)

1 comment:

  1. I love the "Buzzword Bingo".

    Just string the words together into meaningless sentences, and you have Barnet's strategy.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.