A Process for Improving Service Delivery

    Service Delivery Improvements have inherent within them principles and values that must be systematic in application. SDIs also require an effective approach to reorganising work in order to bring about improvement in service delivery. As a system, there are key steps to follow to make implementation meaningful and relevant to anyone with primary responsibility for delivering service.

    1. Ownership - To bring about change and achieve service delivery improvement, it is imperative that the CEO takes ownership of the process to define desired outcomes. A process that makes this easier and is recommended is the formulation of an appropriate policy to capture intent in clear terms and set the scope for proposed changes that will be made within the organisation. Formulating a policy will help to establish a framework within which implementation can be effected and to provide a basis for decision-making.

    2. Charter Development - Working with a senior management team, the CEO should clearly define the organisation’s core services and allocate responsibility for each key area

    3. In defining the core services (in some instances this would be products), the senior management team should identify the different target audiences and the methods by which services will be effectively delivered to each group

    4. Key policy issues such as Information, Timeliness, Professionalism, Service Delivery and Staff Attitude must be considered as part of the charter development process. Such issues will ensure accessibility and equity of services and facilitate the development of guidelines for use of organisation’s facilities and funding or pricing of services.

    5. Developing Service Plans – Services Plans should be developed within the framework established by the policies and charters developed. Service plans should aim to define

    • The needs of each specific service area taking into consideration the target audience to whom services will be delivered

    • What activities or programmes will deliver desired outcomes and ensure customer satisfaction (including quantity and quality)

    • Levels of support (financial and human resources) needed for each activity/programme • Roles for coordination and roles for actual delivery of service

    • Peculiarities of the environment and audience, as well as risks and opportunities that may facilitate or impede delivery of service to the desired quality

    6. Responsibility for service planning should rest with senior management but must involve key officials with responsibility for service delivery.

    7. A collaborative approach to service planning is best and where possible, key stakeholder representatives should be involved particularly to help set priorities for service delivery

    8. Priority setting is important when planning for service delivery since there are always resource limitations. It is recommended that 3 year plans should be established with regular evaluations to determine what works and areas that need improvement

    9. Dates for periodic review (preferably annual) of service plans based on monitoring and evaluation reports should be forecast as part of the planning process. Periodic review will enable adjustments to plans to ensure that services delivered meet the needs of the target audiences

    10. Delivering Services to Customers – As part of the service planning, responsibilities and methods of service delivery would have been determined. It is possible that services are planned for

    • direct delivery by the orgnisation through established service windows or

    • delivery by a subsidiary or other affiliate (individual or organisation) or

    • community based or other non-profit making entity especially when service is being delivered as part of CSR

    • a combination of these with support from the organisation It is important to understand and define who is responsible and accountable for what and has responsibility for what decisions

    11. Where services are delivered by others on behalf of the organisation, service agreements must be established to reflect policies and ensure consistence of quality. Service agreements must also contain clear expectations and accountabilities

    12. The organisation is primarily accountable to the customer and the CEO should therefore take steps to

    • Set operational and capital budgets

    • Allocate resources to areas of greatest need and impact as well as maximise

    • Ensure that those resources are well-managed

    • Provide system wide leadership

    • Monitor and evaluate service delivery and performance

    • Ensure delivery of excellent customer service to the public

    13. Finance and Cost Issues – It is important not to assume away the costs and financial implications of service delivery initiatives. Financial issues that must be considered include

    • Sources of funding for planned services, activities and programmes, including awareness raising, staff training, customer consultation, service planning and evaluation

    • Ability to recover costs through revenue generation (for instance sale of services/products to the public)

    • Ability to ensure effective and equitable allocation of resources across service areas and customer groups

    • Financial sustainability of specific services planned

    14. It is important and recommended that the organisation should develop a pricing (fees and charges) policy and to obtain appropriate and necessary authorisation for implementing this. The organisation might also wish to explore other revenue sources like grants and fundraising for funding short term projects that will benefit distinct target groups and communities

    15. Monitoring and Evaluation of Service Delivery - The aim of any service delivery initiative is to bring about progressive improvement. For this reason, continual monitoring and evaluation of performance is important.

    16. Performance monitoring and evaluation must seek to ascertain that

    • Policies and programmes are being implemented

    • Objectives are being met and desired impact achieved

    • Services are delivered to set quality standards

    • There is increased customer satisfaction

    • There is progressive improvement in service delivery

    17. Key tools recommended for continual application to facilitate monitoring of service provision are the customer consultation processes and the complaints mechanisms, which must be established by the organisation. Periodic evaluation must also be carried out at each service window using a practical tool.

    18. As part of the implementation of service plans, performance indicators must also be defined and will form the basis for developing tools used to monitor and evaluate service performance.