Appendix 6 - Agency capability level definitions

In this year's State of the Service agency survey, Australian Public Service (APS) agencies were asked to indicate their current and required1 positions on a five-level maturity model2 for key agency capabilities such as stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, workforce planning and staff performance management. These capabilities are critical to preparing the APS to meet the challenges of the future. The following table provides definitions of the five maturity levels for each of the agency capabilities.

  Level 1 Awareness Level 2
General acceptance
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Stakeholder engagement Increasing recognition of the importance of effective stakeholder management to business outcomes. General acceptance of the importance of stakeholder management to business outcomes, but considerable variance in the organisation's approach due to lack of formal methodologies. Standard methodologies applied to stakeholder management across the organisation. Tools and databases in place. As in 3, but with a more centralised, strategic approach to stakeholder management. Tools and data enable strategic analysis of stakeholder issues and performance reporting. As in 4, but with regular use of lessons learned and feedback loops in place to inform stakeholder engagement strategies. Measurable benefits.
Strategic planning Increasing recognition of the importance of strategic planning to deliver on business outcomes. Organisation's overall strategy still being developed, including outcomes, benefits and key performance indicators. Organisation has a clear, achievable and measurable strategy. No process in place to ensure strategy flows through the organisation and aligns with business partners. Organisation has a clear, coherent and achievable strategy with a single, overarching set of outcomes, aims, objectives and measures of success. While business plans are being developed at different levels of the organisation, no process in place to ensure alignment with the corporate strategy. As in 3, but with strategy regularly and formally reviewed with input from the Minister(s) and other stakeholders. Strategy is clear about what success looks like and focused on improving the overall quality of life for citizens and benefiting the nation. As in 4, but the strategy is kept up to date, seizing opportunities when circumstances change. Effective processes in place to ensure strategic alignment with external stakeholders to address crosscutting issues and generate common ownership.
Internal resource allocation Recognition of the need to manage internal prioritisation and resource allocation. Acceptance of role of management in allocating internal resources. Agency has an articulated process for managing internal priorities and resource allocation. As in 3 but process is built into formal agency planning and processes exist for routine review of internal priorities and resource allocation. As in 4 but processes exist to allow the agency to reallocate priorities and resources dynamically.
Decision making Increasing recognition that there are appropriate levels for decision making in the agency. Staff and executive seek to make decisions appropriate to their level. A clear governance framework exists within the organisation defining decision making responsibilities. The governance framework is efficient and enables managers to delegate responsibility for decision making to appropriate levels. The overall framework for decision making is effective, managers routinely delegate decision making to the appropriate level and relevant information on decisions is communicated back to managers.
Risk management Increasing recognition of the importance of effective risk management to achieving business outcomes. Risks identified and documented, but not actively managed. Pockets of good practice attributable to the skills of individuals within the organisation. A top-down approach to risk identification, focusing on major organisational initiatives. Some level of bottom-up risk identification, but not integrated into an agency wide risk management process. As with 3, but with risk centrally managed and ownership of risks clearly understood. Risks to the organisation identified and quantified, and response plans developed and funded. Practices in relation to risk escalation clearly defined. As with 4, but with the organisation's appetite for risk, and the balance of threats and opportunities across its work, continually reviewed and managed. Senior management owns and oversees risk management across the organisation. Timely and effective escalation of risks to the appropriate level.
Change management Increasing recognition of the importance of effective change management to achieving business outcomes. While there is general acceptance of the importance of managing change effectively, it continues to be managed in an ad hoc way. Pockets of good practice attributable to the skills of various individuals. Formal change management tools and practices implemented. Senior management communicates it's clear and defined vision for organisational change. Some training provided to support change processes. As with 3, but a more centralised, strategic approach to change management has evolved. Changes to the organisation's strategies and business communicated and championed. Formal program and project management applied to the change process. As with 4, but with the organisation's leadership now leading and managing change effectively, addressing and overcoming resistance when it occurs. Change continually evaluated and fed into further strategy and policy development.
Workforce planning Increasing recognition of the importance of workforce planning to business outcomes. Low organisational knowledge of, or technical expertise in, workforce planning. Different parts of the agency manage their own staffing requirements. While there is general acceptance of the importance of workforce planning to business outcomes, there is no systematic approach to workforce planning. Agency has implemented a workforce planning process. Workforce planning is systematically integrated with business planning across the organisation. Workforce supply and demand assessments undertaken and human resources management strategies identified. As with 3, but a more centralised, strategic approach to workforce planning and implementation of human resources strategies across the organisation. People with the right skills in place across the organisation to deliver business objectives. As with 4, but with regular review of workforce plans and strategies in light of changing business priorities. Measurable benefits.
Staff performance management Increasing recognition by managers of the importance of performance management to business outcomes. Agency has set performance management objectives, relevant documentation and guidelines available and formal performance agreements have been developed with staff. As with 2, but the performance management system aligns individual and agency goals and priorities. Training and support provided to managers to ensure they have the skills to provide high-quality feedback. Performance assessment aligned with agency goals and based on multiple sources of feedback. As with 3, but with employee performance managed transparently and consistently—rewarding good performance and tackling poor performance. Extensive training and mentoring provided, focusing on personal development and performance improvement. As with 4, but with high levels of confidence among staff that the performance management system is improving their performance. Employee performance management informs the organisation's workforce and strategic planning through a continual cycle of review and evaluation.


1 The required positions are the maturity levels necessary to achieve agency goals within the next three years.

2 A maturity model is a set of structured levels that describe how well the practices and processes of an agency can reliably and sustainably produce required outcomes.