From deficit to balance with operational focus

Based on qualitative and quantitative analyses, the consulting team developed a series of measures together with the client to address a galloping deficit in the meals business.

The client: The customer is a medium-sized Swedish municipality, with high ambitions both in terms of quality and growth.

The client's challenge: The customer was struggling with an ongoing and growing budget deficit within the meal business. They entered the covid pandemic with relatively good finances, and during the pandemic itself the conditions were very favorable as costs decreased with essentially unchanged revenues. The municipality also has a culture and self-image of serving high-quality food. Suddenly, the municipality found itself in a situation where the cost per meal had increased by 100% in 10 years. Rising raw material prices and falling student numbers formed part of the background. It was also difficult to manage the business due to many units and a complex management structure.

Our solution: Ekan management staffed the assignment with a project manager and an analyst - both with a clear strategic perspective. Initially, problems and challenges were defined, and guidelines for the solutions were defined. This was, for example, about wanting to avoid compromising on food quality, not wanting to exceed 30 employees per manager, etc. Data was then collected from the municipality's own systems and from open sources. Furthermore, a number of people were interviewed and we compiled all the information into a complete picture of the situation.

The consulting team analyzed the problem based on:

  • Economic development
  • Production conditions/logistics
  • Personnel structure and management

Finally, a series of coherent action proposals was developed together with clients and key personnel in the business to achieve balance in income and expenses. A forecast showed that if the measures were implemented, the business's budget would be balanced within 12 months.

The result: The effort resulted in a strategy where the customer chose to carry out the measures and the change work themselves. A selection of the measures:

  • Simplify and streamline the production structure and logistics. This included, for example, what type of food was prepared where and where it was transported.
  • Simplify and clarify the personnel and management structure. The focus was that everyone in a workplace would have the same manager, that staff groups would not exceed 30 people and that the costs of work management and administration would be reduced.
  • Improved conditions for staff growth when high staff departures are expected. This through more decentralized decision-making, as well as more focus on production and less on administration.