The AA is the UK's largest motoring organisation and provider of roadside assistance and other services. Following its flotation on the London Stock Exchange the directors embarked on a sustained transformation programme to improve the company's financial results. Collinson Grant was asked to support specific elements of the initiative, to monitor its progress and to provide additional managerial resources as the transformation progressed.
Using our 'Leonardo' organisational database, we investigated and analysed the structure of the business, the operational and managerial headcount, and the total costs of employment. This generated a report summarising headcount and costs, which was used to support decisions on restructuring, recruitment and the use of contractors. We led a number of targeted projects:
- to manage continuous improvements in the three large contact centres (employing almost 3,000 people). First, a project to improve customer service and reduce costs at the West Midlands call centre. Better coaching and empowerment of Advisors along with structural changes to calls generated savings of 40 full time employees. Secondly, we examined synergies in the two other centres to enhance transferrable skills and develop common processes
- to evaluate processes, activities and tasks in back office functions, particularly HR Operations; Health, Safety and Environment; and Pensions. A review of hotel services and an analysis of managerial layers and spans for all the indirect staff
- to provide support on organisational design, the assessment of productivity projects and other initiatives focusing on costs and the management and reporting of costs.
The primary objective was to improve productivity and reduce headcount and other staff and non-staff costs whilst maintaining and, wherever possible, enhancing operational effectiveness. A substantial reduction in headcount was achieved – in the order of 7% across the total organisation. Savings in staffing and costs were achieved largely as the result of:
- changes to the design and structure of the organisation, coupled with careful management of recruitment
- better manpower planning in the contact centres – essentially managing and removing excess capacity sensitively but robustly
- the impact of successful productivity improvements in the contact centres
- the group-wide exercise to reduce the size of the indirect staff
- focused initiatives to reduce non-payroll costs and control them better.
Our work benefitted from close engagement with managers and robust collation, analysis and reporting of data related to costs and employment. We used a number of 'tools' to generate reliable information and to inform important decisions on restructuring.