Operating without a dispute backlog and speeding up our processes
We ended 2014 on a high note as we reached our goal of eliminating the dispute backlog in our case management area - not only has the backlog been eliminated, but the quality of our work was maintained.
We speak to Jamie Orchard, Executive General Manager – Specialist Resolution at FOS. He explains the work we have done in reducing our backlog of disputes at the Case Management stage.
- Describe FOS’s journey from project initiation to completion and what were some of the strategies adopted in bringing the backlog down to zero at the Case Management stage?
The independent review of FOS and other key stakeholder feedback highlighted the need for us to reduce our dispute backlogs to improve our timeliness and therefore our overall quality of service.
Project 500, launched in August 2013, was one of the first initiatives introduced to tackle the backlog and it introduced a number of productivity enhancing measures. The project was extremely successful and achieved the goal of reducing the number of unallocated disputes by 536 disputes by 30 June 2014.
From July 2014, we have been replicating the learnings from Project 500’s success as part of our ongoing backlog reduction strategy.
One particular aspect of enhancing the quality of our dispute resolution service involved reviewing the form and content of our Recommendations and Determinations. They now more effectively communicate the outcome of a dispute to applicants and financial services providers and can be produced more efficiently. All staff are now writing Recommendations and Determinations in the new style.
- What were some of the lessons learned?
We learnt a lot of valuable lessons through the various pilot initiatives, including:
- profiling matters at an early stage and dedicating specialist expertise earlier in the process
- reducing multiple touch points, resulting in quicker resolution
- expediting decisions for certain disputes, based on their profiles and criteria, and
- reducing the timeframes for obtaining information and recognising the importance of early consultation with financial services providers, and applicants to discuss the issues in the dispute and how the dispute would be handled.
- What are some of the key achievements?
We are now operating without a backlog at the Case Management stage, that is, no dispute is awaiting allocation for more than seven days. This achievement has been possible not only due to the efforts of our staff but also due to the ongoing cooperation of our key stakeholders.
The average time for allocating a disputes in our Specialist Resolution Group which looks after disputes at the Case Management stage is now four days (in July 2013 it was 89 days).As at 31 December 2014, the number of disputes awaiting allocation reduced by 98% from July 2013 with the few remaining disputes all awaiting allocation for less than 7 days.
Our new format decisions have also been well received and we will continue to enhance them as required.
- Where to from here?
One of our plans for 2014-2015 was to eliminate dispute backlogs across the Case Management teams by 31 December 2014. We have achieved that goal and our focus for the next few months will be to build on last year’s achievements and focus on reducing the current workloads in those teams as the new dispute processes are introduced. We will now also focus on reducing the number of disputes awaiting allocation to an Ombudsman.
- What does this mean for our stakeholders?
We are very excited about all of the dispute process changes that we are introducing. In the next few months, in the build up to the 1 July 2015 implementation date, we look forward to working closely with our stakeholders to ensure that the learnings from the initiatives mentioned above are effectively implemented and any future enhancements benefit all those involved in the dispute resolution process.