In-house developed templates in Excel are in common use for staff and salary planning. However, for larger organizations with more diversified and geographically widespread business operations, these types of solutions often become rather complicated to handle and involve a lot of manual validation work. This was exactly the problem faced by Medical Service at Region Skåne.
Working together with Advectas, Medical Service has implemented a standardized solution featuring user-friendly processes that are simple to follow and use, even for people without a financial background. Other positive results include more reliable and accurate forecasts.
Medical Service is part of Region Skåne and supports the health care sector in southern Sweden with services and functions in areas such as clinical laboratory, medical technology and ambulance operations. Medical Services has 2100 employees working in a variety of operations and in many different parts of the region. This imposes high demands on coordination of staff and salary planning.
Previously, the planning was done using in-house developed Excel templates that were sent to the relevant managers. One big problem with this approach was that the results varied considerably due to the lack of end-user competence in Excel. There were often errors in the forecasts, often due to incorrect input data or errors in the formulae used.
The result was that the Excel sheets needed to be rechecked. This was a time-consuming process as the same document often needed to be sent back and forth many times before the forecast was correct.
Medical Service decided to look for a new tool for its staff and salary planning needs. The goal was to find a solution with a simpler user interface but also a more efficient tool.
This appeared to be an easy mission but it turned out to be more difficult than they thought.
– “Paying out a salary seems easy, but when you go into detail it can be very complex. Issues like parental leave, absence due to sick children, vacation, and changes in salaries are all factors that make a solution more complicated. Making a forecast on this basis can really be a challenge,” says Thomas Risberg
– Our goal was to find a basic level with a simple model, instead of trying to get as much as possible out of the solution. With a simpler, standardized model we also gain greater confidence in the results.
One of the demands on the solution was that even people who use it less often should be able to work in it without making mistakes. It was therefore important to be able to lock the user interface as much as possible, unlike with Excel.
– “You have to remember that not all users are accustomed to working in financial systems,” says Thomas Risberg.
The technical requirements for the system related mainly to dependability and response times.
– “When you open a program, it has to start up quickly. People are used to the Internet and opening this software shouldn’t take any longer than accessing the Web. Today people do not have the patience,” says Thomas Risberg.
Together with Advectas, Medical Service finally chose Cognos Planning Analytics, a tool offering considerable possibilities. Once again, starting with a simple and user-friendly model was key, and was one of the success factors with the greatest value that Thomas identified in the project.
Today all the line managers work with one standardized model which has processes that are easy to follow. The users can now easily and in real time do their work and also monitor changes in different variables.
Start-up and training of the end-users was fast in the new environment. Carrying out a demo of the tool for new users takes about 15 minutes. Today most users feel confident with the tool and its usage rate is high.
– “Most of the end-users, including those not working in the financial sphere, feel the tool is easy to understand and work with. Today they can quickly answer staff-related questions such as the cost of parental leave or whether they can afford to take on summer temps. They trust the answers as they can easily type in the right questions,” says Thomas Risberg.
With a standardized tool that simplified and secured staff and salary planning within the whole organization, Medical Service sees new possibilities for the future.
The solution can grow with the organization’s needs and evolution. Some areas that Medical Service is looking into for the future include income forecasts, production planning and staff schedules.
– “We previously had great information about what had happened in the past. Now we will be able to forecast what will happen in the future. This is highly interesting since history remains static, whereas we can definitely shape the future,” says Thomas Risberg.