The focus of Lean Government 2011 – Raising Public Sector Productivity will be to bring together ‘Lean’ initiatives in the NHS, local government and central government.
Funding for the UK public sector will shrink in the next few years. However, the demands on it will remain and the challenge for all organisations will be to deliver a first-class service with fewer resources. This will mean an increase in productivity achieved through streamlining work and organisational structures. ‘Doing things differently’ will be a constant theme – as will ‘improving quality’ and ‘getting things right first time’. The latter is particularly important as it can mean a big reduction in wasted effort. New technology and better use of IT generally, and mobile working in particular, can lead to much greater staff productivity, a reduction in travelling time and, through staff needing to spend much less time in the office, to more efficient use of space and reductions in energy, maintenance and building servicing costs. Managing demand for services is an important means of maintaining a steady workflow and can lead to greater efficiency and better service.
Applying ‘Lean’ techniques can deliver savings of up to 40% and thus help public sector organisations manage within tighter budgets. Equally importantly, ‘Lean’ can contribute to the delivery of better, more personalised services.
Organisations that have been recognised as being in the forefront of ‘Lean’ include the NHS, the Department of Work and Pensions and Revenue and Customs. Many initiatives in local government are being brought together through the Local Productivity Programme. Linked to that is the ‘Lean and Systems Thinking Community of Practice’, which is a database of opportunities and a means of sharing best practice. Public Sector Nomads is a project that has successfully introduced mobile working; it enables staff to write reports on the spot, obtain information on the spot for clients and make appointments for them (thus representing a step-change in service quality and much increased productivity). Technology generally has the means to facilitate ‘Lean’ working in ways that could not be imagined 15 years ago.
Many local authorities are also taking a radical look at how they are structured and how services are provided. There is the development of a social enterprise market by Suffolk County Council, and the rigorous examination by Barnet Council of which services should continue to be provided as a matter of course and which should be charged for – different and interesting models. The proposal of three West London councils to join up service provision will provide a much leaner service delivery model. The potential for more joint working between local authorities and the NHS will also create the opportunity for ‘leaner’ working.
The public sector has many initiatives relating to ‘Lean’, but these could be better coordinated. There exists an opportunity to bring together the various experiences, learn from them and apply them more generally.
At Lean Government 2011 delegates will benefit from the practical knowledge of the speakers, and hear about the many opportunities to introduce ‘Lean’. Delegates can identify which of the existing knowledge networks they can join in order to facilitate their better understanding of how to create and take advantage of ‘Lean’.