Vacancy Tracker – Improving Management and Understanding of Establishment

Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, East of England, Acute

The problem

As an organisation we need to have a better understanding of our vacancies and post holders because otherwise our control of expenditure may slip, and the financial position could become more challenging.

The challenges

How might we have a single version of the truth so there is a better understanding of vacancies across divisions?
The solution should triangulate with budgets and recruitment panels and, therefore, allow for improved financial control.

What were/are the outputs?

• At budget holder meetings, the financial management team can add notes directly to the tracker rather than typing them up separately afterwards.
• Summaries of individual cost centres can be extracted and sent to budget holders. These contain the detail behind what manual pay re-codes have been actioned by financial management. Budget holders are then encouraged to complete ‘change forms’ which action the recodes at source.
• TRAC and Hornbill (HR online ‘help desk’ systems) approvals – the information in the tracker (such as which staff are on fixed term contracts or maternity leave) is used to support the review of financial recruitment requests. Noting staff changes and requests all in one place enables easier monitoring and stronger financial control.
• Although not directly used in budget planning, the tracker is fed from the same data source, and the added business intelligence layer contains relevant information that may impact budget setting, for example, identifying posts that are externally funded.
• An error will be flagged if new staff are added or if changes are made to existing staff.
• Assignment number can be used to easily search for staff, to find where their cost and/or WTE is sitting.

What were/are the outcomes?

• The management accountants (who are aligned to specific divisions) are now able to provide cross-cover for each other (for example, during annual leave); this is because they are now all using the same tracker template.
• Improved financial control as it helps to give budget holders and senior managers a better understanding of where vacancies or over-establishment sits in their teams.
• Can be used in the monthly accountability meetings to understand the frequency, locality and drive behind the use of bank and agency staff.
• Feedback from users has been that the tracker output makes it clearer to understand what staffing and, therefore, financial positions there are.
• It supports better control of staffing as users are able to see ‘change forms’ and TRAC requests that have gone through.
• The tracker reconciles with the budget shown in the ledger, which is an opportunity to investigate any discrepancies and aids the budget setting process.
• Provides ‘live’ information; this is because the tracker is fed by a ‘staff in post’ report that on average is refreshed each week. This means adjustments made by the workforce during that time are captured. This is an improvement compared to only having the fixed month-end staff lists to refer to which can be up to a month out of date.
• A single version of the truth – different finance team members can add notes to the tracker for various divisions. This means that all team members will be able to see what has already been discussed/ requested/ approved with colleagues. This means less time is wasted in repetition/ checking with colleagues and reduces budget holder frustration as communication is significantly improved.

The Innovation

Read the full innovation on Vacancy Tracker – Improving Management and Understanding of Establishment

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What the peer-reviewers said

“Demonstrating a finance team that works as one to develop solutions that work for all.”

“A great example of pulling data from non-finance sources to solve issues rather than relying on the ledger.”

“Use of information from a hr helpdesk is a great idea for collation of real issues not just those seen when talking to budget holders.”

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