Jean offers this free checklist to compare with your current Service Model
Your Service Model is the procedure followed within your organisation relating to the three major stages of service provision:
- design, and
This Checklist leads to measurable outcomes, with options that may offer some ideas toward ensuring a consistent quality of service design and delivery. The term ‘service-user’ includes customer, client and consumer.
1. Service-provider’s Quality Framework
The recommended Quality Framework is Total Quality Management (TQM). TQM particularly attempts to minimize the amount of time and money spent on quality control by preventing quality problems arising in the first place. TQM – as applied to service provision – is defined as “the extent to which we meet, or exceed, service-user expectations and requirements” – which can in turn be defined as:
- the extent to which the service-provider is able to identify service-user needs and expectations – quality of research
- the extent to which the total unit design of service-provision meets or exceeds service-user expectations – quality of design, and
- the extent to which service-provision is able to provide and continue to provide services as intended – quality of conformance (ie consistency and compliance).
Where a quality framework is endorsed and resourced, quality systems and procedures are:
- appropriately developed, trialled, refined and consistently reviewed to ensure improved work practices,
- accurately, clearly and concisely documented,
- represented in a 1-page flowchart to demonstrate how quality is managed within the organisation (this is a valuable attachment to any submission, tender or proposal), and
- an integral component in:
- staff orientation, induction, training and development,
- performance appraisals,
- strategic and business planning,
- budget allocation, and
- policy development and review
When quality systems and procedures are in place and are being followed with rigour – and not until then – a basis and opportunity exists for quality assurance. Quality assurance is defined as an overall organisational commitment to the maintenance of specified levels of service quality.
With quality assurance (QA) in place, continuous quality improvement (CQI) is then – and only then – possible.
Service-providers should achieve three measurable outcomes through CQI:
- an increase in your knowledge and understanding of service-user expectations and requirements,
- an improvement in your service design, so that the mix of features afforded by your service design closely match service-user expectations and requirements, and
- an improvement in your ability to provide services which consistently conform to the design.
The three sequential steps are:
- Quality Framework: introduction of quality systems and procedures for research, design and conformance in service provision (ie the service model),
- Quality Assurance: systems and procedures to ensure that quality systems and procedures are followed without exception, and
- Continuous Quality Improvement: regular evaluation and review of Steps 1 and 2, with careful planning and implementation of agreed actions to introduce improvements.
2. Service-provider’s Staff
Each person employed by the service-provider is responsible for the quality of their own work – and for continuous improvement in the quality of their work. Therefore each person needs to know:
- the needs, aspirations and interests of individual service-users, or compatible groups of service-user,
- the standard of quality in service planning and delivery necessary to achieve agreed and measurable service-user outcomes and benefits,
- how to consistently plan and deliver services to the desired and consistent level of quality,
- how to measure the quality of their own performance, and
- how to ensure evidence of necessary or desired improvements in both the quality of their performance, and the quality of service planning and delivery.
3. The challenge and opportunity for a Service-provider
Service delivery is the core business of service providers. It follows then that service delivery and all associated activities need to be adequately and appropriately resourced within the service-provider’s organisation.
- from this factual base, your organisation and stakeholders will benefit greatly by having consistent methods and systematic procedures for collecting statistical information on (a) the nature and extent of need that may be addressed, (b) currently met and unmet needs, and (c) predictable and projected future needs,
- analysing the statistical information to quantify and understand how best to respond in the design, implementation and evaluation of services - for the immediate (now to 6 months), short-term future (6 to 12 months), and for the longer-term future (12 to 24 months).
- designing services that address the identified and prioritized needs within available or accessible resources - following a consistent and replicable service model that covers/embraces the planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review of service delivery; tailoring services to the specific needs of individual service-users or compatible groups of service-user; and harnessing external resources through service networks, strategic alliances or partnerships that enrich the quality of service delivery and consequently of service-user outcomes and benefits.
- allocating adequate and appropriate resources to the major stages of the Service Model, ie planning, implementing, monitoring, evaluation and review, and
- treating the Service Model as the core business of your organisation.
So, let’s integrate these five procedures into the three TQM components, noting that TQM is defined as the extent to which we meet, or exceed, service-user expectations/requirements:
TQM Component 1: the extent to which ‘we’ are able to identify service-user needs and expectations, ie quality of research - collecting statistical information on the nature and extent of need that may be addressed; currently met and unmet needs; and predictable and projected future needs,
analysing the statistical information to quantify and understand how best to respond in the design, implementation and evaluation of services - for the immediate (now to 6 months), short-term future (6 to 12 months); and for the longer-term future (12 to 24 months).
TQM Component 2: the extent to which the total unit design of your services meet or exceed service-user expectations, ie quality of design - designing services that address the identified and prioritized needs within available resources; following a consistent and replicable service model that covers/embraces the planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review of service delivery; tailoring services to the individual needs of service-users or compatible groups of service-user; and harnessing resources outside of your own organisations through service networks, strategic alliances or partnerships that enrich the quality of service delivery and consequently of service-user outcomes and benefits,
allocating adequate and appropriate resources to the major stages of the service model, ie planning, implementing, monitoring, evaluation and review.
TQM Component 3: the extent to which your organisation is able to provide and continue to provide programs and services as intended, ie quality of conformance - treating the service model as the core business of your organisation.
4. Unmet need
The importance and value of assessing and documenting the nature and extent of unmet need (ie needs that are eligible to be serviced, but for which adequate resources are unavailable) is a critical function for service-providers.
Unmet need establishes the fact that currently available resources are inadequate to address existing or projected need. It also provides a factual basis for forward planning and for resource acquisition. Such factual information on unmet need is as important and valuable as factual evidence on needs that are able to be met or partly met.
It is noted, however, that documentation of unmet need takes time, and such time may not be taken into account in budgets accompanying applications for additional resources. This activity may have to be funded by the service-provider as an internal research and development project.
It is important to emphasize the role of documentation at this point. Accurate, clear and concise documentation is essential for a number of reasons (and this list is not exhaustive), including to:
- provide evidence of consultation, process, procedure, observation, findings, options for consideration, decisions, etc.
- display compliance with internal quality systems and procedures, and with the key stages of the service model,
- ensure continuity in the case of staff absenteeism or turnover,
- provide a basis for quality assurance and continuous quality improvement,
- provide a basis for perception and satisfaction surveys with – or input from – key stakeholders, including service users, and
- provide a firm basis for designing, introducing and resourcing improved work practices.
Staff who work face-to-face with service-users are encouraged to regard documentation and associated administration as a core component of the service model.
Staff are also encouraged to design innovative ways to quickly and easily note their thoughts and observations on how service research, design and conformance can be improved.
6. Out-come Based Planning Tool to ensure measurable outcomes for service-users
(This segment includes extracts from Identifying and Solving Problems: A Management Guide (Fourth Edition, Robert Kaufman, Social Impacts Publications, 1998)
The starting point in any planning tool is to define and agree on key terms. Kaufman provides definitions to assist this process within a service-provider:
- What’s the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ - wants can fulfil needs
- What’s the difference between ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’ – solutions can remove problems
- A service is a ‘means to an end’ – ie an output designed to achieve a service-user outcome
- A ‘need’ should be expressed as a ‘solution’ rather than a problem, and
- A ‘measurable outcome’ is a need, ie a gap between the service-user’s current situation, and the service-user’s desired situation.
Therefore, services should be designed based on the desired situation, ie the measurable outcome.
Needs assessment is a formal analysis that:
- shows and documents the gaps between current and desired results or outcomes,
- arranges the gaps in priority order of needs,
- selects needs to be resolved or addressed, and
- reconciles any differences or mismatches by negotiation, additional data, common sense or just plain, rational reasoning.
Planning a service to achieve the negotiated measurable outcome involves three basic steps:
- describing the current situation in measurable terms,
- describing the desired situation in measurable terms, and
- describing the gap or discrepancy between 1 and 2 in measurable terms.
Make a list of characteristics of the current and desired situations:
Current situation – what is
Desired situation – what should be
|2.(use as many rows as you need)|
Keep working on these two lists until they clearly tell you –
- what outcome/s are to be achieved,
- who or what will display the outcome/s, and what criteria will be used to determine achievement,
- by whom and by what achievement will be measured, and
- how to avoid ambiguity and confusion.
Don’t fall into the trap of defining every identified need as a deficiency:
- a deficiency is a lack or insufficiency, an inadequacy in quantity or supply
- a discrepancy is a conflict or variation, as between facts, figures or claims.
Now extend your 2-column analysis to a 3-column planning table:
.. what is
Possible methods and means to get from the ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’
.. what should be
|2. (use as many rows as you need)|
Note: these three columns are presented here with the ‘action’ column in centre. You may prefer to change the order and have the action column as the third column.
There are a number of variables to monitor which can affect the process of identifying and agreeing upon a measurable outcome:
- readiness and willingness of the service-user,
- agreement on an acceptable, achievable and affordable outcome,
- availability of adequate and appropriate resources,
- suitable measurement tool or process, and
- suitable evaluation model.
7. A word of caution
Don’t expect that your own organisation is able to meet or address every identified need. There may be other more suitable or suitably resourced organisations that could be approached to work with or on behalf of the service-user, or it may be that the resources required have already been allocated elsewhere within your own organisation.
Don’t confine your planning to your organisation’s current context – consider and pursue new or additional inputs that can be added to the current context.
Organisations can be changed or even created, based on identified and quantified needs that may be discrepancies but not necessarily deficiencies.
Consider also the possibility of strategic alliances or service networks to expand the available resource base.
8. Measurement of resources
Identify the nature, quality and quantity of resources required to satisfactorily provide the service, and determine those that are (a) currently available, and (b) not yet available.
The service – and the means by which you will evaluate and measure process and progress – needs to be designed, costed, budgeted and scheduled.
When this is completed, the availability of resources should be checked. You may well have to review aspects of the service in this planning stage in order to work within available or accessible resources.
.. ‘what is’
Possible methods and means to get from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be’
.. ‘what should be’
Resources required, and their availability
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