Circle Case study

The Care Quality Commission’s journey to become more intelligence driven

Enabling the CQC to make the best use of their resources while empowering their workforce

The challenge

In 2015 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) significantly revised their inspection methodology to become more intelligence driven. The new methodology required more resource and time to visit organisations, with up to 3,000 external resources added to an existing pool of 3,000 CQC inspectors to meet the demand of 20,000 inspections a year.

The old ways

Initially CQC managed the scheduling and processes for this change through localised spreadsheets, disparate systems, emails and paper. They quickly realised, however, that there were difficulties with this approach. A spreadsheet crashed or data accidentally got overridden, wasting time and adding pressure to an already complex operation. Resource allocation was not necessarily based on demand, which resulted in inconsistencies and potential for local variation. Recording how much actual time was spent on inspections was not visible, and management information was difficult to collect and interpret.

Changing course

To address these issues, CQC decided to invest in a centralised scheduling and operational management system. The vision was to find a single, national system that could handle scheduling right across the organisation and its various remits. This would need the flexibility to have different business rules for different areas, whilst still driving resource allocation as efficiently and fairly as possible. Additionally, the system would need to allow elements of digital self-service for the inspection workforce, as well as the ability to effectively record their work. Imperative to all of this was the ability to easily and clearly draw upon – and make business decisions using – reliable management information from within the system.

CQC were keen to implement a web-based cloud solution that would ease internal IT demands. They were keen that the new solution would interact with their existing core systems and would meet the stringent security levels required for processing their data.

The solution

Following a rigorous procurement process through a Crown Commercial Services framework, CQC selected the Cygnum system from technology supplier CACI. Cygnum is a digital solution for resource scheduling and case management that helps organisations work smarter, improve service quality and reduce risk.

Scheduling engine

Primarily CQC’s core functional requirements were to be met by Cygnum’s powerful demand driven scheduling engine. This functionality was configured to match CQC’s business rules, including automation and optimisation, and the provision of a centralised view of scheduling, inspections and resources.

Work-flow functionality

Additionally, Cygnum’s web portal was configured to give Inspectors their own self-service capability, with features such as declaring availability, swapping and accepting additional work, and requesting leave, all accessible and underpinned by Cygnum’s workflow functionality.

“The general setup of system was configured for how we work – with a centralised chart, we could see all inspections and resources. And then the underlying rules we could configure to our business. It’s a very flexible system, we change it a lot, there’s a lot of change in how we work!”
Tim Corringham, Resource Planning Practice Manager Planning, Change and Improvement Customer and Corporate Services, CQC

Timesheet module

Cygnum’s timesheet module was also implemented to record actual work done. Based on planned time, this feature allows staff to confirm what they have actually spent time on during a working week.

Reporting toolsets

The reporting toolsets within Cygnum were important to CQC too. Cygnum is shipped with many standard reports; however, the reporting tools were configured during implementation to provide additional graphical dashboards and reports for specific user groups, completely bespoke and relevant for CQC.

System implementation

CACI provided CQC’s Cygnum implementation as a secure, cloud-based solution, removing effort and risk for the internal IT department. The system was successfully implemented to integrate with CQC’s existing service-orientated integration tool, providing real-time integration with the NHS Payroll system and the in-house CRM system.

Using proven tools and process, CACI’s delivery team worked closely and collaboratively with CQC’s team to foster a strong partnership and successful delivery on time and to budget.

“We liked the user interface, it was a user-friendly system. It had good reporting capabilities, and we wanted to report using the data. We could see travel times.”
Tim Corringham, Resource Planning Practice Manager Planning, Change and Improvement Customer and Corporate Services, CQC

The results

CQC now use Cygnum to schedule and resource all their inspections, across all inspection directorates. This includes 1,500 inspectors that utilise the self-service capabilities of Cygnum daily, self-scheduling inspections for their portfolio.


Additionally, in 2018/19 up to 45% of annual inspections were scheduled automatically based on CQC specific rules using Cygnum’s auto-allocation software. This has freed up time for inspectors, enabling them to focus on other work and has ensured fair and consistent schedules are maintained.

Cygnum also manages resource availability and absence, with an end-to-end workflow process in place from user request through to approval, which streamlines the process, reduces administrative cost and generates centralised management information.

Introduction of timesheets across the organisation has been a major change of culture but is now proving invaluable for CQC in carrying out demand modelling for future planning and budgeting.

“We record where people spend their time. We use that data for resource modelling: how many inspectors do we need to deliver against our business plan and strategy. We’re now using almost entirely Cygnum data for that. It was based on assumptions before, now it’s based on data; you need this many staff.”
Tim Corringham, Resource Planning Practice Manager Planning, Change and Improvement Customer and Corporate Services, CQC


A further significant benefit for CQC has been the ability to maintain aspects of the system themselves. This has meant that CQC’s trained team can change areas such as reports, forms and workflow settings without having to contact CACI.

CQC continue to build on the investment made in Cygnum with an ongoing system change scheme in place to consider agile and incremental ongoing improvement for the future.