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Improving service quality and efficiency

In times of budget constraints high quality public services may be seen as a luxury. Governance International doesn’t agree. We believe that, in times of austerity, we can no longer afford low quality services. We therefore propose a Quality Approach to Efficiency.

This approach turns traditional ‘excellence’ models on their head - the Governance International quality journey starts with citizens, their needs and assets. So instead of asking how to provide existing services at lower cost we are asking citizens: are those public services needed at all? What services do you REALLY need to achieve your priority outcomes? This is how real efficiency savings can be made, at the same time that the most important personal outcomes of citizens are improved!

The Quality & Efficiency Improvement Cycle

Our Quality & Efficiency Cycle is about embedding innovations in the whole service chain which requires new perspectives.  The three key principles underlying the ‘service quality and efficiency improvement’ cycle are:

  • Rethink the agency ‘from back to front’ – in other words, start with the outcomes that you and your service users really want and work out what needs to be done to achieve these.

  • Rethink the agency ‘inside out’ – in other words, see all your processes through the eyes of your citizens and customers, along the lines of the ‘customer journey’.

  • Rethink the agency ‘from the bottom up’ – in other words, release the imagination and potential of your staff, starting from the frontline, rather than relying on top and senior managers as your innovation triggers.

Using these principles, the five stages in the Quality and Efficiency Improvement Cycle are:

Define it!

What kind of ‘service quality’ needs to be improved? Public service quality needs to be co-designed with service users. The idea is simple: service users, their families and friends are  best placed to define the challenges they face and the support they need to find their own solutions. Governance International will surface new perspectives through customer journey mapping, ethnographic observation and focus groups. The Governance International team also brings in cutting-edge innovations from the UK and internationally to help you open up to the best ideas from elsewhere. This will allow your organisation to make strategic choices and define clearly what aspect of public service quality you are aiming to improve.

Measure it!

Once your organisation has a shared language and understanding of what you mean by quality, it is important to integrate it into the ‘hardware’ of your organisation. Governance International helps you to agree a strategic roadmap and to measure those quality dimensions which can be measured. Of course, not all dimensions of quality are measurable – this is where qualitative evidence is needed. Governance International will provide you with creative ways of finding and recording such evidence.  

Manage it!

Quality cannot be simply the responsibility of a quality manager - it needs to be managed as a cross-cutting issue through the organisation. Depending on your context, different tools may be appropriate to get the credibility of your service users, the buy-in of your staff, and the commitment of your providers. Governance International helps you to assess the pros and cons of various tools such as the European Common Assessment Framework, so that you can choose the quality system that is best tailored to achieving your strategic objectives.

Improve it!

Your organisation is now in a stage to improve QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY. This involves collaboration inside and outside your organisation with people who know the service concerned and care about it. These are stakeholders with whom you need to discuss new solutions which will improve your pathways to outcomes. Governance International will work with your staff and service users to identify the assets, skills and resources they are able to bring into redesigned processes and services. At the same time, Governance International will help your organisation to develop a strategy to raise the expectations of both staff and service users and bring about the needed culture change.

Evaluate it!

Finally, the Quality and Efficiency Management Cycle involves reviewing whether quality has really improved. Governance International has extensive experience in using a range of practical tools to help you evaluate the success of your quality improvement strategy, including peer reviews, customer surveys and benchmarking.

What we offer

We bring you unrivalled hands-on experience with change management and quality management tools – and without a hard sell to use a specific tool! The renowned Governance International team has an extensive UK and international track record in:

  • Customer Journey Mapping which involves a deep analysis of customer experiences in their interactions with public agencies and how these can be improved.

  • Design and delivery of tailor-made training which enables heads of service to understand the steps involved in the ‘Quality and Efficiency Cycle’ and to make effective use of tools to transform public services – Elke Loeffler, John Tatam and Salvador Parrado have provided a range of training packages from  half-day workshops to 1 year coaching programmes to public agencies in the UK and all over Europe.

  • Hands-on advice and coaching on using Balanced Scorecards effectively to focus on what’s important - Governance International Associate John Tatam actively led an extensive change programme, with a strong emphasis on performance improvement and organisational development, as the Corporate Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive of a London Borough.

  • Development and implementation of Public Service Charters:  Elke Loeffler and Salvador Parrado have worked with many public agencies on designing and implementing service charters, including a one-year charter coaching programme with a range of public service providers in Czech Republic. Read our Service Charter Handbook co-edited with OECD and the Czech Ministry of Interior (pdf download).

  • Evidence-based research on public sector benchmarking: The Bertelsmann Foundation commissioned Governance International in 2010 to conduct a meta-evaluation  (Click for more information) of evaluation studies of public sector benchmarking projects. In 2012/13, Governance International undertook a literature survey on benchmarking experiences in the UK for the Brazilian government.

Good practice cases

Click here to learn from our good practice cases how to put the ‘Quality & Efficiency Improvement Cycle’ into practice.

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