Case Study: Improving the Resource Planning of an outsourcer’s homeworking advisors

Our client is a UK-based BPO operator, and employs all of its advisors as homeworkers. Its clients include leading UK insurers, retail businesses and logistic companies. Through its use of homeworkers, the outsourcer offers a high level of performance, including very close scheduling against client interval requirements.

The business identified that its medium and long term planning of resource required improvement. For example, each of the accounts used different planning methods to plan future staffing levels. Having such different methods led to occasions of overstaffing and understaffing that harmed profitability, and damaged client relationships. There was no reliable summary view of resourcing across all client accounts. The business invited us to collaborate with them to redesign and rebuild it.

A single standardised tool was created covering all clients, to maximise the accuracy and rigour of the resource planning. It included all proposed recruitment, with the ability for analysts to experiment with different recruitment strategies. The treatment of attrition was improved. Several checking mechanisms were placed within the model to ensure that all projected values were appropriate – taking into account historical values and also what is known about the future.

We challenged the client’s thinking in a number of areas, ensuring that every element within the model was defined precisely, maximising the model’s usefulness.

A number of clear visualisations were developed – both at client level and business level - to highlight risks and deviations, which allow analysts and operational managers to identify and deal with any issues immediately.

The tool enabled analysts and leaders to see the resource outlook for all accounts in a single place. The tool clearly demonstrated where overstaffing or understaffing was likely to occur, so that action could take place to ensure the future resource was a closer match to the requirement.

The client’s Operations Director said, “Phil brought a great deal of experience to help us redesign our planning tool and processes. He spent time developing the solution in collaboration with our support staff to ensure that it met our requirements and also that we were fully able to maintain it after the project.”

The result of the project is that the outsourcer’s resource levels are more robust within each account. Resource delivery is closer to client requirements, and client communication of resource matters is much improved. All of these offer opportunities to boost revenue and reduce unnecessary cost.

This project was performed by Philip Stubbs for Drakelow Consulting, which is now incorporated within Atlantic Insight.

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