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Cost Architecture

Welcome to the Cost Architecture Community Site

CemsdiThe Cost Architecture is esd-toolkits Activity Based Costing (ABC) method for local authorities and partner organisations. If you are a subscribing authority please use the side menus to access a range of free downloadable products and reference materials.

The Cost Architecture may be used to:

  • Evidence the business case for service improvement projects.
  • Compare service costs across functions with other authorities.
  • Identify the cost of services over customer access channels to inform channel migration strategies and the return on investment from introducing on-line systems and processes.
  • Identify how resources are being used and quantify potential efficiency savings.
  • Justify fewer or additional resources by presenting current resource usage accurately and transparently.
  • Identify process waste, mangement overheads and the difference between what it costs to provide a service and the charge for the service.

There is also a link to the our 'Generic Process List' which defines everything an authority does in 50 or so high level process definitions, this is built into the Service Cost Calculator but may also be used independently as an aid to gathering organisational insight for service redesign purposes. 

New 'On-Line' Service Cost Calculator release!

After may weeks of research and development we have released  our new and much improved 'On-Line' Service Cost Calculator. Providing that you are a member of a subscribing authority, you may access the on-line calculator from the 'Tool' menu above. Click on Activity Based Costing. A manual for the calculator is available to download here

The on-line version of the calculator supersedes the spreadsheet version, which is still accessible from the calculator and manual menu on the left of the screen.

New features of the online service cost calculator include:

  • Intuitive screen displays with ‘one-click’ navigation and screen prompts based on councils’ previously input data.
  • Ability to model and refine alternative service cost and delivery models to include changes to staff activity levels; service overheads or the introduction or withdrawal of customer access channels. This new feature allows you to update and save the model as many times as you wish and revert back to the current cost model at anytime.
  • An enhanced capability to understand how many hours staff are available to work, how much time they are contributing to service workflows and how much time is  ‘lost’ or unaccounted for.
  • The ability to supplement activity costs with staff roles and gain organisational insight by understanding how staff are contributing to service delivery in the dimensions of case, management and strategy.
  • A pre-formatted spreadsheet download of current and modelled cost data, which can be saved and used to inform your business case.
  • Options to include in your exercise ‘Service Specific Processes’ and reference those that may have been input by other councils

We believe that the on-line calculator will be an invaluable tool in quantifying efficiency savings in the challenging times ahead.

Practitioner Training

We are now offering 1 day starter workshops in Councils own premises (or a dedicated training venue at extra cost). The Training sessions will equip you to go out and use the ABC Method and understand more about how to apply the Generic Process Process list.

The ‘practitioners’ training' will take you through the background and application of the approach including establishing a project team and executing a project, good practice examples from other Local authority projects, benefits realisations and some of the potential pitfalls. A case study will be used to identify how the Cost Architecture can be used alongside other improvement tools such as process mapping and service metrics. 

More importantly you will spend time using   new features developed for our in our new on-line service cost calculator that allow you to interactively model potential changes to staff activity levels; service overheads or the introduction or withdrawal of customer access channels.


Who will benefit?

Anyone involved in business improvement programmes and project teams and any practitioners who need to target areas for improvement and evidence the potential for efficiencies in their business cases.

Please take a look at the Course Outline.

Phase iII - Cost Architecture Project

Following on from the success of Phases I & II, we are now running Phase III of the Cost Architecture Project called 'ABC Choices'.

'ABC Choices' is designed so that groups of authorities within a partnership or region can share experiences or collaborate in running Cost Architecture Projects. 

We already have a range of 'free' downloadable Cost Architecture products but 'ABC Choice' can give you a kick start, give you the reassurance that you are planning and executing your projects in the right way and save you time.

By being a Phase III project member you will also be able to meet with authorities at dedicated Cost Architecture workshops, these authorities will be facing similar challenges and it will provide an opportunity to share insights and good practice. Workshop sessions and ABC support will be provided by our Business Improvement Lead Facilitator  - Peter Wrigley has worked with authorities to develop and refine the approach in a range of situations.

By being a Project member you will be given access to the other 'ABC Choices' services from the wider esd-toolkit team of facilitators and esd-toolkit approved suppliers where appropriate. These services are not being made available to the other esd-toolkit subscribers.

Please download the ABC Choices leaflet to learn more. 


If you  and would like more information on either the Practitioner Training or ABC Choices then please contact the support team at support@esd.org.uk. Also please do feel free to pass this on to others who you think may be interested.