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Getting on top of demand surges and disruptive change

Shamil Ganatra Director, Operational Restructuring, PwC United Kingdom 05 April, 2022

For organisations grappling with short-term bursts in demand, it is important that they not only look to manage immediate capacity challenges, but also plan to emerge stronger to be able to deliver longer-term sustained outcomes.

It’s difficult to operate in anything like a ‘steady state’ right now. We’ve seen how demand can surge, fall back and rise again over the space of a few months. The travel sector is a clear case in point. We had a burst of cancellations as the Omicron variant took hold and restrictions were reimposed, only to see holiday bookings spike following the easing of testing rules a few weeks later.

We’ve also seen how backlogs can build up as key people are called away to deal with more immediately pressing demands. A prominent example is hospital waiting lists. It’s not just medical staff who have been reassigned to emergency duties because of the pandemic, but also the administrative teams who schedule appointments and arrange post-hospital care following discharge. These teams have a critical role to play in reducing waiting lists by managing the efficient throughput of patients and freeing up beds, but can often be stretched by staff shortages and the sheer weight of demand.

Travel and healthcare are not alone. Almost every sector is now facing mounting operational stresses. Many businesses have faced regulatory changes, leading to operational challenges ranging from implementation and retraining to the repapering of existing contracts. As digital transformation gathers pace, many have also had to re-evaluate customer engagement, experience and delivery, while rethinking what is core and non-core to future plans. This rethink has in turn led to a wave of acquisition and divestment, with resulting demands on operational integration and how to create value from the capabilities-fit.

The operational challenges have been exacerbated by labour shortages and increased talent mobility as part of what’s come to be known as the ‘great resignation’. As people reassess their working lives in the wake of the pandemic, many are leaving in search of a better work-life balance or more fulfilling opportunities elsewhere. Talent gaps are growing as a result.

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On track now, stronger in the long-term

The need to deal with capacity surges in the short-term, while adapting to continual change opens up complex, unfamiliar and potentially unexpected operational challenges. Businesses don’t just need advice, but also action to deliver results.

Execution managed services (EMS) is our unique approach to operational delivery where we work side by side with organisations to not only help run and improve existing processes, but also to strengthen agility, resilience and value creation over the long-term.

This means more than just looking to deal with a particular time of crisis in isolation. It’s also about looking more broadly for opportunities for greater efficiency and process improvement. For example, making sure the benefits of any new systems that have been implemented are fully harnessed - to make sure they produce better information and are user friendly, or, if required, encourage greater user adoption by changing ways of working. It could also mean looking for other areas where an organisation may feel they are experiencing revenue leakage from poor processes or mitigating other impacts of staff shortages.

Referring again to the earlier example of challenges faced by the healthcare sector, this approach could help providers to develop a systematic pathway for continuing post-hospital care. They could safely discharge patients sooner and hence free up hospital capacity, while improving the quality and continuity of long-term patient care and reducing the risk of readmittance. As NHS trusts begin to tackle the COVID-19 backlog of elective care, we want to work alongside them to determine the best way forward.

The approach is built around partnership and flexibility, mobilising teams on- and off-site at short notice, bringing together sector experts and hands-on delivery specialists - with innovative commercial models that can be fully contingent on success in certain areas. It also involves looking at how data and technology can simplify complex processes and enhance existing operations in areas such as robotic process automation, machine learning, and potential collaborations with technology partners.

If you would like to know more about our EMS solutions or discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please get in touch.

Contact us

Shamil Ganatra

Shamil Ganatra

Director, Operational Restructuring, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7852 191622

David Morris

David Morris

Health Services Sector Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7841 784180

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