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  • Planning the Pathology workforce

    How to use the model

    September 2009

  • Contents

    1 Introduction 1

    1.1 Who should use this document? 1

    1.2 What do the spreadsheets do? 1

    1.3 When should I use the spreadsheets? 1

    2 Gather data 2

    2.1 What data will I need? 2

    2.2 How are the data collected? 4

    3 Record data in the spreadsheets 6

    3.1 Initial data entry for main_model.xls 6

    3.2 Completing task_entry.xls 9

    3.3 Complete the data entry for main_model.xls 13

    4 Simulate different scenarios 16

    4.1 Changing the mix of bands for each task, and the mix of tasks for each band 16

    4.2 Changing the volume of work 20


    Appendix 1 Processes, activities and tasks

    Appendix 2 Flowchart for initial data entry

    Appendix 3 Quick step by step guides

  • Version 2.02 1

    1 Introduction

    This document explains how to gather data and how to use the spreadsheets. Collecting and analysing the right data lies at the heart of good workforce planning. All the analysis you will

    do depends upon the quality of these data. So it is worth spending time to get this stage


    This document makes reference to the ‘main guide’. By ‘main guide’ we mean the document

    entitled, Planning the pathology workforce – A guide for pathology managers, which came with your pack.

    1.1 Who should use this document?

    It is intended that this document should be used by the person responsible for overseeing the

    collation and analysis of the data. It should ideally be the person fulfilling the role of project manager (who is most likely to be the business manager of the pathology service). If you

    have not agreed on the structure of your project team, please refer back to Section 2.1 of the

    main guide.

    1.2 What do the spreadsheets do?

    There are two spreadsheets – task_entry.xls and main_model.xls.


    This spreadsheet is used to collect data on the structure of your workforce. You will produce

    multiple copies of this spreadsheet – one for each band of the staff in each department. In

    each copy you will apportion the time of the staff to tasks.


    This is the master document that performs the analysis. The data from task_entry.xls are recorded in this spreadsheet along with data that describe the volume of work done and

    some basic cost information. Outputs are then calculated so that you can see the structure, activity and productivity of your workforce and compare it with an optimum profile (an

    idealised profile of the workforce determined by you).

    At this point, you will be able to simulate the effects of changes to the service – increases and decreases in volumes of work – and the workforce requirements that result.

    1.3 When should I use the spreadsheets?

    You should turn to the appropriate section of this booklet when instructed to do so by the

    main guide.

  • Version 2.02 2

    2 Gather data

    This section describes the types of data you will need and how you should go about collecting

    them. Appendix 2 contains a summary of the steps described. Appendix 3 provides quick step by step guides for the project manager and department managers.

    2.1 What data will I need?

    You need to collect data that describe your workforce, its costs and activities and the volume

    of tests done. The types of data are described in more detail below. The sections that follow describe who should provide the data and how they should provide them.

    Data about the workforce

    Ideally, you should capture data for all the people who work in the departments you plan to

    review. You should include all scientific personnel, from trainees to senior practitioners. But you can also include medical personnel and those in managerial and administrative roles – if

    they work within a pathology department and not in the central pathology management function.

    For each person you need to record

    � Name

    � Department

    � Contracted hours of work per week

    � An estimate of mean overtime hours per week

    � Band under Agenda for Change (AfC)


    You do not need to collect detailed cost information about your workforce. But you will need an average or indicative cost for each band (£16,000 for band 1, £18,000 for band 2, for

    instance). You could use the value at the midpoint of the pay band, or use a real average.

    The latter will obviously take longer to calculate. You should ensure that the figure is ‘fully loaded’. In other words, it must include:

    � Basic pay

    � Employer’s National Insurance contributions

    � Employer’s pension contributions

    � Supplements (such as overtime, bonuses, benefits, London Weighting and merit awards)

    Time allocated to processes, activities and tasks

    The pathology service can, like any organisation or business, be described in terms of its

    processes. Each process is, in turn, characterised by the activities that define it. And each activity will comprise discreet tasks. So tasks define activities, which define processes, which

    define the service. The spreadsheets enable you to profile the work of your staff in these

  • Version 2.02 3

    terms. But you will not be expected to do this from scratch. A process, activity and task (or

    PAT) list has been defined for you and validated by colleagues in the service.

    The PAT list is presented in full with some additional explanatory notes at Appendix 1. It is advisable to familiarise yourself with this now. When you start collecting data, your

    respondents will apportion the time of the staff at each band to these processes, activities

    and tasks. The method for doing this is explained below.

    Please note that the PAT list is not intended to reflect the competences used in the Job Evaluation Scheme. These competences are generic in nature and used to determine bands

    in Agenda for Change (AfC). The PAT list relates specifically to pathology and has evolved

    through consultation with people in the service.

    Subgroups of the staff

    At any given AfC band, you are likely to have people doing different types of work. You will

    find it easier to allocate the time of the staff to tasks in the PATs list if people who do similar work are grouped together. For instance, suppose you have 12 people at band 4 in

    Biochemistry. Of these, 7 people do the same or very similar jobs. These 7 people will form a subgroup.


    You need to know the annual volume of work done by each department for which you are

    collecting data. You should count

    � the number of tests done

    � the number of samples received (for Sample Reception)

    Different labs have different conventions for counting volumes. The measurement of profiles of tests is a good example. So use whatever measure is most convenient for you. This is not

    a benchmarking exercise, so it does not matter if you count volumes differently from another


    If, however, you are using this tool to profile a network of labs, it is essential that you first

    agree on a common currency for volumes. Otherwise, comparisons between labs could be misleading.

    In order to add some differentiation of the types of tests done, you should subdivide your

    volumes into four categories:

    � Fully automated (including tracked systems)

    � Semi-automated (including some automation, but not tracked systems)

    � Routine manual

    � Complex manual

  • Version 2.02 4

    2.2 How are the data collected?

    Data will be added to the spreadsheets main_model.xls (the master spreadsheet) and task_entry.xls (one copy for each band of the staff in each department).

    Tasks for the project manager

    The project manager should be responsible for main_model.xls. He/She will also be required to record some of the data in the ‘Respondent’ worksheet in task_entry.xls. Gather the following information (as described in Section 2.1):

    � Data about the workforce

    � Indicative costs for each band in each department

    � Volume of tests done and, for Central Sample Reception, samples received

    Collect these data now and then refer to Section 3 for instructions on where to put the values in the spreadsheets.

    Tasks for the department managers

    The collection of activity data (time allocated to processes, activities and tasks, as described

    in Section 2.1) should be delegated to the department managers. They will be responsible for task_entry.xls. The pack contains a separate document called Guidance for department managers that summarises the relevant parts of this document.

    Department managers can respond on behalf of the staff in their department. Alternatively, they can discuss the apportionment of time to tasks with representatives of the staff. We

    suggest that you follow these steps:

    � Before any data collection starts, department managers should ensure that they are familiar with the PATs list. The list is reproduced in Guidance for department managers