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> Resources > The Human Services Professionals > Web Pages > MaximiseOutputs  

Maximise Outputs v. Inputs
Given a Limited Budget, Delivering as Much Service as You Can.
The purpose of this page is to offer some of the theory and detail that sits behind our Best Practice (BP) Rostering Folder, which contains all the major BP rostering headings that matter.

The core purpose of the typical organisation is to:

  • Convert its inputs (for example, its allocation, and how that allocation is cut up for management, rostered staff, works & services, operating costs and so on)

  • Into as much output (for example, the amount and quality of services delivered to its clients) as possible.

The tools that can assist you to do this are numerous. With respect to the rostering input specifically (noting that rostering is almost always by far the largest of all inputs), tools include RosterCoster.xls,, our Best Practice (BP) Rostering Folder and our Cost Projection App.

What Sorts of Orgs might be Most Interested in These Sorts of Projects?

For a start, funding bodies like government tend to be vey interested in the ratio between outputs and inputs.

And for government (and accommodation services alike) we propose that the best output-based funding model is our Greenfield Rostering Process (a 'virtual' exercise, where you get to 'start again' with a green field, with your buildings not yet built, and your staff not yet hired), for reasons including the following:

  • In the past we have worked on and had exposure to various output-based funding models developed and commissioned by government.

  • These 'other' methods have tended to go into great detail in their assessments of need, on a client-by-client and setting-by-setting level, but have then 'batched' the results into broad-brush 'categories' (for example, low / medium / high need with, say, adjustments for behaviour and medical) and broad-brush 'roster models'.

  • This broad-brush approach may be due to the fact that in the absence of the right technology to do the 'grunt' processing of data to properly model the input dollars, rosters and so on that are implied by so many assessments of need, needing to be updated so frequently, would require an army of project workers.

  • Our Greenfield Rostering Process, on the other hand, accepts assessments of needs, pushes them through a 'black box' (to be discussed on other screens*) that 'runs' the service as a virtual service for 12 months, as if this were an input-based method, and produces a dollar amount at the end for rostering, and allowances for all the other inputs the service may require, management, operating and so on ... for one of the organsations that we work for, a 'farm setting', we even made allowance for hay, gas bottles and so on.

*This black box, as a by-product, happens to produce a set of greenfield rosters, effectively, a different roster model for every house, and every one of them having the same overall 'pattern' (consistent roster lines), even though every roster may be different.

Even we, who have been doing little else other than rostering for nearly two decades, could not achieve this by hand. And compare this to other methods, which may have just five or ten roster models ... such a useful by-product ...

So useful, in fact ...

... that this by-product is often the thing that managers want more than the modelling benefits previously discussed. For example, managers who need:

  • A point-in-time baseline. The rationale for the funding of one high profile org we once worked with, which was 7 years old, had never been written down. There was talk of a whiteboard session. Then, client numbers and complexity increased, but there was no 'original' client count / client complexity baseline against which an argument for an increased allocation could be launched. And the funding body, of course, stated that the allocation was 'sufficient', even in the absence of evidence. So, the manager called us in, just so he could have a point-in-time baseline at date X, so he could be armed from then on.

  • To support a funding submission. This is perhaps the most obvious use of a greenfield rostering exercise. When you are tendering for new services, a greenfield exercise is not 'as if' you were starting again: you are starting again.

  • A benchmark. A benchmark roster pattern to just 'have' as a benchmark. 2% over the benchmark might then be seen as efficient, but 10% over might be seen as unacceptable. That fact real rosters might never achieve the ideal is not the point.

  • Coal face roster improvement. Greenfield rosters, laminated on the wall, so to speak, are something to work towards every time you review a roster for changing client need, or staff attrition. And the closer you get to the ideal patterns, the more the various roster lines between your houses will start to look the same. Great for flexibility, and industrially, and in terms of not disrupting the family life of staff, if a person can shift from one house to another without getting a whole new roster line!

  • Healthy checks and balances. Between, for example, direct service areas ('WeSay') and finance teams ('FinanceSay'). Or even between your costing tools (nearly every org has these, whether they are spreadsheets or multi-million dollars systems purchased) and ours. This is not a game of either-or, nor is it about the more expensive tools being necessarily the best. It's about evidence, and the more evidence you can get your hands on, the better.