Improving productivity in debt management for HMRC

The challenge

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Debt Management and Banking directorate (DMB) is a nationwide service, spread over 75 offices, tasked with processing UK tax payments and collecting overdue payments.

DMB’s goals were to raise productivity by 30% while ensuring its employees had the right skills to continue to improve their performance. In addition they wished this activity to be integrated with PaceSetter (HMRC’s efficiency programme that we had been instrumental in implementing).

How we helped

Our experience in our own company has shown that a high level of employee engagement is central to ensuring that any new way of working is sustained.

Our Practitioners began by engaging DMB employees in seven offices across South and West Wales in the process of analysing and improving their own work processes using Lean methodology.

Creating 'One Best Way'

Having identified variations in working practices and quality, standard ways of working were defined by the process experts and all team members trained to use them, increasing performance and minimising mistakes. The adoption of a range of meaningful performance measures allowed managers to ensure the right levels of staffing on each process. In some areas, the improvement in productivity alone addressed any lack of resource. 

We then engaged with all elements of Debt Management operations (in a further 10 locations) across the UK, from call centres to field collection teams and legal enforcement, ensuring that end to end processes were better aligned for the various types of taxes that HMRC has to collect.

The results

Over the course of our involvement, significant improvements have been achieved:

  • The stated goal to increase productivity by 30% was surpassed and in parallel the number of cases being dealt with first time improved by 54%
  • As a result of the productivity improvements, 230 employees were able to take on more cases speeding up the collection of overdue payments
  • At DMB’s East Kilbride call centre productivity doubled in 20 weeks. Its new processes were subsequently implemented within three larger call centre offices
  • In Wales, where the initial issue had been a lack of personnel, the teams not only cleared their backlogs but were able to take on additional work from three other offices
  • The 29 in-house Practitioners, trained by us needed no further external support, have trained new practitioners - enhancing the team to 48 in-house experts.  They are continuing to roll out the new ways of working to make DMB an efficient and continuously improving organisation.