Public Sector Process Improvement Step by Step

To recap, so far in the series 'Creating Efficient Government' we've covered the need for a strategic approach to change, process mapping, and gap anlysis of existing work processes.

Now we have to figure out what's needed to fix the gaps identified in this diagnostic phase, and build more efficient work processes. Here's an (abbreviated) step by step approach to process improvement for the public sector.

Step 1 - figuring out the desired end state. In other words, mapping out what the process SHOULD do e.g.

  • What would a faster, cheaper process with higher quality and fewer waste activities look like?
  • What barriers to efficient operation can we remove i.e. hand-offs, reconciliations, checks/re-work, etc.
  • How can we smooth the interface between organizations linked by this process?
  • Where would the process benefit from better information?

The goal here is to map the 'to-be' process in as much detail as the orginal process map your team developed.

Step 2 - figuring out the implications of making these changes. Significantly changing processes and workflows will probably require changes to work structures – e.g. teams - and job descriptions. Policies may have to change to reflect new accountabilities. You may need new IT capabilies to 'informate' your redesigned process. As much as possible you need to assess the impact of the proposed changes on your organization.

Step 3 – figuring out if your organization is ready. You need a realistic assessment of your organizational change readiness – i.e.

  • Do you have a clear understanding of what your organization expects to gain from the initiative?
  • Can you commit the resources (time and effort) to create and implement the new systems?
  • Do your managers and staff possess the necessary skills to carry out the project?
  • Is there a senior-level champion for the project?
  • Do you have the skills and resources to not only manage the changes, but also to operate in the new model?
  • Who will manage change initiative tasks and communications?
  • Will your people need training?
  • Can departmental IT 'ramp up' to give you the tools you need?

Step 4 – figuring out your implementation plan. No doubt the 'real world' raised its head during the last couple steps. You now need to plan which changes you can move forward with, given the available resources and support. For a realistic chance of approval for your projects, you need to document:

  • your project goals;
  • requirements for project launch;
  • project structure and team requirements;
  • costs and risks; and,
  • the expected benefit in achieving organizational goals.

You are basically building the business case for change for each of your initiatives. This will let senior management set priorities and determine which process improvement will be most effective.

Of course, this abbreviated process improvement plan skips over a lot of important stuff, like pro-active and comprehensive internal and external communications. If you don't 'manage the message' both with your staff and external stakeholders, you will find real change to be tough sledding. But that will be the topic of another newsletter.

PRS has several decades combined experience helping public sector organizations with performance reporting and performance improvement issues. If you would like to discuss how we may be of assistance to your organization, contact PRS Vice President Charlie Snelling 613 744-4084

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