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Premier IT Blog

  • Writer's pictureRobert Green

Time to Plan for Better Job Planning

Updated: Jul 6, 2023


Job Planning

It’s been almost two years since I took the plunge and started a job in the NHS. After four years of being an ‘outsider looking in’ (working for software companies supplying revalidation and job planning systems), I’d made a lot of assumptions as to how Trusts used the data our systems were providing them with.


To me, it seemed that job planning was the logical core component of EVERYTHING a Trust did, from demand and capacity planning to managing staffing levels and building rosters. Accordingly, I’d dutifully sit in rooms with some of the sharpest minds in the country, showing them all the pretty reports and outputs from their job plans, safe in the knowledge that they’d use this information to go off and make their departments work better.


Only now do I realise that in lots of areas of lots of Trusts, that isn’t the case at all.


Job planning for many doctors (and managers) has become a tick box exercise. A contractual hoop that has to be jumped through once a year, that is often completed largely in isolation. Even for those where the job plan has some basis in reality, the data either doesn’t go anywhere or it’s completed too late in the year to have any tangible impact on business planning.


The real-world equivalent would be me going to a supermarket, not knowing how many people I needed to feed, what they wanted to eat and how much money I had to spend on them.


The ‘traditional’ job planning software systems have enabled this widespread sleepwalking, by encouraging a largely disparate approach to the process. Users are sent off to build their own job plans based on what they’ve been delivering, or what they think they should be delivering, and then the Trust have to try to plan their services based on what comes out the other end.


To return to the supermarket analogy, this is a bit like me buying as many baked beans as I can get in my trolley because I like them, and I think most people like them, and then having to concoct every meal for the next year out of beans (which, interestingly, is exactly how I survived at university).

Baked beans in a tub, Job Planning

But there is another way!


Imagine if instead of buying beans on this industrial scale, I had simply made a shopping list before I went out. A list that allowed me to plan meals to meet everyone’s dietary needs.

Now imagine, using that same principle, that a team went into a job planning round knowing exactly how many hours of particular activities they needed to deliver in order to meet the demand on their service.


That’s exactly how the Zebra Job Planning system allows Managers to approach Team Job Planning. The system is built on the principle of effective capacity planning and making job planning an integral part of an end to end business planning process. This culminates in providing the Trust with visibility that this job planned activity is then being delivered, via integration with eRostering software.


This integration extends to local Business Intelligence systems, so the Service Delivery Plans created in Zebra can be supported by real-time data. For example, a Manager might use Waiting List numbers to outline the number of clinics that need to be delivered in the forthcoming year, and ensure that these numbers are allocated across a multidisciplinary team’s job plans at the point of sign off.


Zebra Job Planning is the only system that will support Trusts through ALL of the NHSI Levels of Attainment (whether they’re currently working at levels 0 or 1 or are looking to move to 3 or 4), and most importantly, it allows different areas of the Trust to work at their own pace.


Departments can still job plan the ‘old way’ if they need to, while the areas that are ready can enjoy a world beyond baked beans.

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