throughput standards for assessors

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    I’m a very grumpy Benefit Manager today!

    We have been trying to convince some of our assessors that they need to be able to maintain a minimum standard of output each day in order for us to keep on top of things.

    easy argument you would think! – 9 items of (non weighted)post per day each when all in, rising to 13 if resources down to 70% – they do phones as well so feel this is fair in comparision to Capita who ask for 20 items with no phones

    Easy my team leaders tell me, they should be doing more! – they have monitored the output and it can be done by everyone

    Well it can’t be b***d* well done by all of them cos some of them arent managing 6 items per day! we do have performance mgt in place and we will follow the process through but it’s all excuses, excuses ……..

    Can anyone let me know what targets they have in place for individual assessors and if they work?


    Kevin D

    Targets? Ok, for once, I’ll *try* to be constructive….

    The following info will greatly help:

    1) Which benefits computer package does your LA use?

    2) How good are the response times when keying info into the system? (i.e. when info is input and “entered”, does the screen react very quickly, or take absolutely ages?)

    3) How well do other systems interface with the benefits system (e.g. rents / council tax / overpayments etc)?

    4) Are you using workflow / DIP; or good old fashioned real paper files?

    5) Is there a “pre-assessment” team?

    6) How many checklists are the assessors required to complete (and what are they for)?

    7) Are the assessors working on all types of claims (e.g. u-60 / 0-60 / new claims / changes of circs / interventions etc / private tenants / council tenants / owner occs etc)?

    8 ) Do the assessors deal with backdates?

    9) Do the assessors deal with overpayment management?

    10) How easy is it to get things done by other sections / departments? (e.g. rents / council tax)

    Depending on the answers to the above (and several other factors), it is quite conceivable for a “reasonable target” to be anything between 5 and 35.

    In my actual experience, targets are only of any use as a guide to compare one assessor against another (doing like work). Even then, weight has to be given to the accuracy and error rate of each assessor. I’d argue that an assessor doing 20 a day, but wrongly, is doing very little useful work when gauged against an assessor doing 10, but all correct.


    Angeline Smith

    We have a target of 12 cases per day for full time assessors. This is for completed cases i.e. cases that are acutally assessed or cases where no assessment is required but, for example, you have to reply to a letter written by the customer. Cases that have to be queried for info are not included in the 12. Our assessors do take telephone calls, and usually the more complex cases, as the easy calls are dealt with by our contact centre.

    Initially, there was some grumbling, particularly regarding cases that have been queried not counting towars the figure, but as with most changes, once it had been up and running for a while, things settled down and as an office average, the target has been met this year. Of course some assessors are pushing through much more than others but I think that has always been the case (in my experience).


    Oh Kevin I couldn’t possibly get you to *try* anything but thanks for all the typing anyway!!

    Ozzies Mate

    [quote:5c67aab066=”Kevin D”]

    In my actual experience, targets are only of any use as a guide to compare one assessor against another (doing like work). Even then, weight has to be given to the accuracy and error rate of each assessor. I’d argue that an assessor doing 20 a day, but wrongly, is doing very little useful work when gauged against an assessor doing 10, but all correct.


    Oh Kevin, if only you could come & tell our management this!

    😉 😛


    You need to get rid of the excuses one by one – and get them to help in this. You will soon find out which ones are happy with “mediocracy” because they can hide.

    Only once the excuses are removed can you go down the performance/competence route

    Working harder is rarely the solution because you are likely to be just creating next weeks work and phone calls


    We have targets for our assessors, 20 documents a day to be dealt with.This reduces to 15 a day if they are covering appointments ( we arrange appointments for all new claims and for where we have asked the claimants to bring in documents).
    Every day the assessors complete a tick sheet toi show what they have done and what type of documents they have dealt with and what the outcome was ( claim assessed, letter sent etc).The following day the team leaders collate the figures and then send an individual feedback to each assessor by email.
    At first no one was happy with being set targets, but the daily feedbacks have changed things.It gives the team leader the chance to give praise where it is due and we try to give positive feedback.If the target hasnt been met for example the assessor has had a difficult claim to deal with or a long reconsideration letter to do or has had a lot of long phone calls, then that is recorded and acknowledged.
    On the whole, everyone is meeting their targets, ( there is the odd blip now and then but that happens less and less). The positive feedback has helped enormously, people who before were maybe producing less in a day have increased their work rate as it were.And for the first time we are up to date at closedown with our work and we are seeing our PI’s move into the middle and upper quartiles. The assessors are also encouraged to be responsible for meeting our turnround times and weekly team meetings encourage them to discuss the targtes and they come up with new ways of working to help us achieve targets.
    Mind you, we are a very small authority, each of our two teams has only 4 assessors so maybe this wouldnt work in a larger authority.
    I just wanted to say that targets do not have to be negative if they are handled in a positive way.


    Thanks Sally – nice to hear a positive response


    Good luck with the target setting!

    Andy Shanks

    We have a ‘target’ of 15 per day or 2 per hour [if people work less or more that the standard hours], it is more of a guide that a target, my latest worry is that even though people are hitting the ‘target’ the amount of work outstanding does not really reduce, I am now wondering about the live case load to assessor ratio. the assessors do everything apart from stuiff like S/E + Fraud which are done by a senior assessor. We are working on nearly 600 live load cases per assessor [averaging it ] but 6 staff are newly trained members of staff and are still finding their feet. Is this a reasonable number or am I being horribly cruel and exopecting too much. We use DIP + Academy and most calls are dealt with by a contact centre [we get the tricky ones]

    Any Comments ?


    In 2003, our benefit assessors were set a target of working on 95 cases a week (pro-rata’d for part-timers, obviously).

    At the beginning of 2004, I removed these targets, much to the astonishment of staff and yet their productivity and accuracy increased and we reduced our turnaround times for new claims by 20% during the next 12 months (this was achieved with less resources as staff who left we not replaced).

    Targets are meaningless. What matters to assessors should be the customer’s needs (i.e. I want my money!). Our assessors are encouraged to complete claims and make decisions as quickly as possible – not meet targets that encourage mistakes through carelessness or writing letters for evidence and information which are not needed.

    Assessors need to be encouraged to see things from the customers point of view!


    Starting a couple of years ago we did a thorough review of what happened to the claims from start to finish and worked out where we were wasting our time. We decided the best thing to do was to switch off targets and trust officers to think what was the best way to get claims done. We ‘phone where we can and see people on the counter in the belief that we get a better response. The idea is that it’s better to spend an hour visiting than 2 hours writing out letters. If you set targets, you’ll get people ticking the boxes by sending out some letters that are unnecessary or unlikely to get a response.

    Staff work from start to finish on individual claims.

    It seemed to be working. The staff were involved in the research and by and large it was a triumph of common sense and trusting the staff.

    But then we got Pericles. In much the same way that Europe got the Bubonic Plague some centuries ago.


    I know the grumpy feeling. Having been an assess in the past and whilst yes things have changed, I certainly did a lot more than most of our staff even reducing the figures to allow for more verifying and recording etc (not that it’s changed that much in the last 6 years???). We have regularly have peeple who only do 2 -3 new claims a day and we have targets and these are rarely met. So unless you are going to have a process as to what you will happen if these are not met then I would say what is the point????

    And it is not even Friday afternoon!


    we have targets – 35 items per day or 30 if you are a trainee + 95% accuracy. we have prp and they get a fully acceptable grade if they achieve this or higher ones if they achieve more than the target. Everyone moaned at first but generally they all meet or exceed the targets now.
    good luck

    michele darlington

    each assessor is given an individual target based on completed items produced in the last 8 weeks. an average weekly figure is then calculated and an extra 5% is added as an attainable improvement in productivity. This is monitored together with a quality requirement of 90%+.

    On the whole it becomes self regulatory, staff check that they have met the requirements each day, and team leaders check with staff weekly if there is a noticable drop in performance.

    By having measurable performance you can see if staff are struggling, and nips in the bud potential problems

    seems to work well for us and have been using this method for several years now.

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