Performance indicators, quality benchmarking and cost/efficiency of emergency services Cost analysis of Emergency Call Answering Services

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1 Performance indicators, quality benchmarking and cost/efficiency of emergency services Cost analysis of Emergency Call Answering Services EENA Ref :2012-P06-DB-EENA TERA Consultants 32, rue des Jeûneurs PARIS Tél (0) Fax. +33 (0) S.A.S. au capital de RCS Paris B PRESENTATION at the EU Emergency Services Workshop 2012 Denis Basque Partner TERA Consultants 20 April 2012

2 Objectives (1/2) ComReg, the Irish Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, is required annually to review the maximum cost to be recovered by the provider of Emergency Call Answering Services (ECAS) from mobile and fixed-line operators. BT was selected as the Emergency Call Answering Service ( ECAS ) provider in Ireland by the Minisiter for Communications from TERA Consultants in association with O C, were mandated to conduct a review of the maximum Call Handling Fee (CHF) in the context of a decrease in the total number of calls and the recent change of service provider. In Ireland the CHF covers the reasonable costs associated with the running of the Stage 1 PSAP. Ireland and UK are the only 2 countries where operators support the cost of the Stage1 PSAP EENA 2

3 Objectives (2/2) TERA and O completed the review on the basis: Call centre site visits, Meetings with management, Review of quarterly accounting data provided by the ECAS provider, Benchmark information, Own modelling work. Several aspects discussed in this Operations Track Session (including indicators and quality benchmarking) are also discussed in this presentation but through the cost perspective. EENA 3

4 How the Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) works in Ireland Stage (or 999) calls are answered at a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). Emergency number 112 or 999 Caller s operator The specially trained call-taker asks the citizen the required service (i.e. Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service or Coast Guard) and checks the location. Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) The call is then transferred to the requested Emergency Service Control Centre based on the caller s location and handled accordingly. Regional emergency service Dispatch Operator The presentation focuses on the reasonable costs incurred by the ECAS provider EENA 4 Source : EENA PSAPS in Europe, 2011

5 General breakdowns of total costs of the ECAS provider The majority of ECAS provider costs is made of staff costs such as operators, managers and engineers. Our work consisted in reviewing each cost element. Type of costs Operator costs Pay costs Non pay costs CAPEX Financial costs Explanations The cost of call centre operator staff is the product of Hourly cost Number of hours requested Management (managers, engineers etc.) and support costs Accommodation, maintenance, administration, network services etc. Fixed assets (Assets enabling operational activities for ECAS provision e.g. hardware, software, fit out) Set up costs (Expenses to set up the new work centres for ECAS provision e.g. labour cost, premises) The cost of capital, the cost of funds to cover loss or gains incurred by ECAS, and under-recovery EENA 5

6 1 Assessing the call centre operators hourly cost The call centre activity is outsourced to a third party and an hourly rate is paid by the ECAS provider to the third party for operators work. TERA and ComReg reviewed the components of the hourly rate which are detailed below Components of hourly cost Analysis conducted Basic rate (for wages) Bonus Employers Pay Related Social/ Insurance (PRSI) Churn Uplift for unavailable hours Resourcing Call centre coordinators Trainers Agency and recruitment Overhead EBITDA margin Benchmarked against similar jobs Benchmarked against similar jobs (around 10% bonus appeared reasonable) % contribution is set out in law Recalculated by the ECAS provider Recalculated based on above changes No comment No comment No comment Bottom-up calculation based on number of recruitments, number of recruiters and cost of hiring a recruiter. This showed that these costs were unreasonable. Benchmark showed that % of overheads was deemed unreasonable. Recalculated based on above changes EENA 6

7 2 Assessing the number of hours required by operators: A unique benchmarking methodology Our investigation and assessment of staffing and resourcing for the operation considered each element of the workforce planning cycle in terms of: Workforce planning processes Linkage to other relevant operational areas Roles and responsibilities Tools and techniques Appropriate modelling applications Model logic and construction Parameters and assumptions Currency and accuracy of variables Levels of latent capacity Each aspect was reviewed against our bespoke set of workforce planning best practise criteria, referencing industry benchmarks and current emergency services data. EENA 7

8 2 Forecasting and capacity planning could be more effective and needed more transparency We observed that Forecasts were founded on historical call demand and but based on assumptions that were too general: Little or no input was given to other influencing factors, Resulting forecasts were regularly inaccurate, No short term forecasts or re-forecasting based on very recent data, Capacity planning was split between the operation and a 3 rd party supplier of staffing. 30.0% % variation 20.0% Daily Daliy Forecast forecast Performance performace 10.0% 0.0% 01/01/ /02/ /03/ /04/ /05/ /06/ /07/ /08/ /09/ % Time -20.0% -30.0% -40.0% Source : O EENA 8

9 2 Schedule production and management relied on manual processes A market-leading workforce application was employed to build and manage the schedules based on traffic forecasts, however: Staffing constraints and working hours meant that shifts were constructed manually The application was not linked directly to the telephony platform, therefore there was limited ability to use much of its functionality such as; intraday forecasting, real-time adherence. A further layer of contingency was manually added to the staffing levels by the 3 rd party supplier. Individual staff did not have direct access to the application so management of the schedules was very manual Adherence reporting and management was limited to recording time manually against significant activities e.g. meetings or training sessions EENA 9

10 3 Resourcing assumptions were increasing the cost to serve Multiple layers of contingency and uplift were added at each stage of the calculation, making it difficult to appreciate or measure the exact amount being applied e.g.: Multiple service levels, Fixed FTE allowance for not ready time, Minimum staffing levels per site, Levels of offline activities (meetings / training / etc.) An independent capacity planning reference model was therefore developed: Alternative assumptions were identified, based on actual levels, QoS targets, best practise and more pragmatism This model and alternative assumptions provided new weekly resource hours (including adequate contingency at 10% more than needed to deliver service levels and to cover unexpected periods of high demand) EENA 10 Workforce Planning element Application of Erlang formula for 97.5% service ECAS provider assumptions, observed actual levels and proposed assumptions Current assumption Applied to offered level volumes Not ready uplift 7% Observed actual level Service level is applicable to Alternative assumption 3% reduction in volumes calls answered 2.0% 2.0% (approximate) 30min paid break per 7.5 hr 10% 7.1% 7.1% paid shift Team 0.6% meetings 1.0% 1:1 0.3% 0.5% BT Huddles 7% 0.7% 1.0% Shrinkage Coaching 0.7% 1.0% Refresher 0.5% 0.5% training Percentage reduction of % 10.4% hours from Not Ready and shrinkage Shift efficiency - 65% 75% The assertion that there is too much contingency is demonstrated with staff utilisation levels of 27% (work time / time logged in to take calls) which is below industry averages

11 3 The levels of management were appropriate to the importance of the service Our review of the operational processes and structure considered management structure, roles & responsibilities and impact on the overall cost base. Main roles were: First Line Managers One per PSAP Responsible for service and staff performance Coordinator Staffed by the 3rd party resource provider and part of hourly rate payable Distinct role between FLM and coordinator Responsible for resource management Additional roles included: Lead Operators and administrators Management processes dealing with staff development and performance were equivalent to industry best practise. Levels of management created a very robust operational environment, consistent with the critical nature of the service. EENA 11

12 Non pay, CAPEX and other costs were reviewed We found that several non pay costs were not reasonable and recommended a reduction as a result of disallowing these costs using benchmark information (network services), detailed analysis (lease interest, set up costs and assets) or recalculations (cost of capital, past under recoveries). Non pay costs CAPE X Financial costs Components Accommodation HR services Hotel, mileage, canteen Premises and related Maintenance Administration Network Services Lease interest Set up costs Assets Cost of capital Sinking fund Past under recoveries Reviewed and found reasonable EENA 12

13 Recommendations and results: Some costs were recommended to be excluded or reduced Operators: Reduction in cost per hour Reduction in the number of hours required Both recommendations were made under strict respect of service quality and discussed with the ECAS provider CAPEX: CAPEX depreciation represent around 10% of annual costs. CAPEX are depreciated over the contract lifetime (5 years). However, same may be reused after 5 years and decisions on how to treat the residual value of such assets will need to be taken by the Ministry as a Contractor. Breakdown of total costs per annum Operator costs Pay costs Non pay costs CAPEX Financial costs Labour costs: Direct labour costs: Several roles should be phased out after operations set up. This was proposed by the ECAS provider Non pay costs: Some costs in the sub-contractor contract are excessive and therefore disallowed Using conservative assumptions on volumes forecasts, cost evolution and CAPEX depreciation, the CHF was set at 3.35/call (like before, despite volume decreases) EENA 13

14 Model can be reused for forecasting and measure economic performance Our estimate of future trend in call volumes and costs is based on rigorous analysis with: Technical elements Accounting elements Benchmarks It can used to follow the evolution of costs easily This forecast can therefore serve as an ideal tool to verify the operator s performance for the rest of the contract s lifetime This tool is useful not only for the regulator but also for the operator This is also useful to carry out sensitivity analyses Cost elements Forecast by EENA 14 Q4/2011 Q1/2012 Q2/2012 Real figures Forecast by Real figures Forecast by Real figures TERA TERA TERA Call volumes (thousands of calls) Operators hours requested Direct labour Pay (managers, engineers) costs, Direct support k (finance, legal) Other support Non pay costs, k Accommodation HR Premises Mantenance Network services Figures are for illustrative purposes only Higher costs compared to forecasts

15 Main findings When reviewing ECAS costs one must keep in mind that maintaining service targets, and hence access by the public to the 999/112 service, is of paramount importance. Key learning for this project are: There is a steep learning curve for new ECAS operators It is critical to carry out comprehensive forecasts for the volume of calls/workload in the short, medium and long term as it forms the basis of accurate staffing levels Subcontracting and tendering for network services, premises, operators, etc. may provide best value for money however ongoing benchmarking of the cost is required When planning resources, multiple layers of contingency can generate a level of staffing above that required to meet service targets When ECAS is subcontracted by the government, treatment of the residual value of the assets at the end of the contract must be anticipated The level of cost highly depends on the structure of the organization: Number of PSAP Stage of PSAP EENA 15

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