Everyone loves a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' story right? I remember discovering Goosebumps books in the school library and being amazed that my choices and decisions could impact what happens in the story… plus if you get eaten by the monster you can always turn back a few pages and make a different decision to see if things would turn out better!
Our new demand and resource scenario planning tool is a similar idea; a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' for Adult Social Care. It allows you not only to project what might happen over the course of the year, but also to interact with the forecasts and trial different potential outcomes. The aim is to support planning for social care teams by predicting the volumes of demand we would expect to see in the year, how much work we expect to complete, and what this might mean for our backlog of work waiting to be completed.
The fun bit is that instead of looking at this as a one-off piece of work (helpful, but quickly out of date) we built a dynamic version with opportunities to interact and test different scenarios.
This means three things:
- Forecasts are always 'live': By using a combination of live data and trends as the base for predictions we are able to show an adaptive forecast that automatically updates based on our current position. If we make progress or see unexpected demand during the year then this will automatically be reflected without the need for extra work
- Outputs are customisable: By enabling interactivity in the report, it’s possible to test different potential outcomes and consider how we might manage the incoming work and what level of backlog is acceptable. Quadrants and teams can access a view tailored to their needs and assumptions without us needing to create multiple pieces of work for different customers
- It is team and work type specific: Because it is based on actual trends at a granular team level the forecasts reflect the fact that teams focus on and prioritise different types of work, providing a picture specific to each team and how they manage their demand.
It has been a fun challenge figuring out how to use PowerBI in new ways and trying to build a tool that both works smoothly and is easy to understand and use. Something I've really appreciated is the teamwork aspect of the project. It has been so valuable to have different perspectives and skills on the same problem, not only have we ended up with a better product, I feel I've also learned a lot in the process.
There have been many iterations (and file versions!) and this has enabled us to evolve our ideas and incorporate feedback as part of the development process, collaborating with the service to focus our efforts. And that iterative approach doesn’t stop here; now that the dashboard is live we want to continue to collaborate and learn from the teams as they use it to ensure that the tool is as useful and useable as it can be.
Our colleagues with Adult Social Care have commented: “I really enjoy when I’m in a meeting with someone from data and analytics because they know how to explain things clearly and concisely,” and that’s exactly what we aim to do when we create outputs for others and the beauty of customisable products. The work is now being used to help set operational plans in quadrants and we hope this becomes a key tool to support future ASC planning in a smart and efficient way. In the words of one service manager who is choosing their next adventure; “This will save us so much manual working out!"