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Agency Capability

2014-15 State of the Service Report – Agency capability

An input into the 2015 State of the Service agency survey was agency self-assessment of organisational capability. The specific capabilities assessed included change management, performance management, workforce planning, project management, talent management and innovation. The results enable agencies to benchmark their capability against other agencies.

Overall, APS agencies report having a good level project management capability. Most agencies report they are effectively engaging with stakeholders and are allocating sufficient resources to develop their organisational capabilities. Results identified the need for more work to build capability in the areas of talent management, workforce planning and innovation.

In building these capabilities, there is a need to focus on the development of systems to measure and evaluate the change. These systems provide the evidence base to support good governance in the first instance and to monitor improvement over time.

Agency self assessment of organisational capability is undertaken using the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). This model seeks to place organisational capabilities into a standard and comparable structure, allowing agency senior leadership to assess the maturity of specific capabilities. This assessment then assists with establishing priority areas for improvement.

Whilst there is some suggestion that the model is limited because it is based on self assessment, results have been corroborated by the findings from independent agency capability reviews.

At the APS level, the capability maturity approach offers:

  • a view of collective areas of capability strength and weakness across the service
  • an understanding of where to target collective effort to improve organisational capability
  • a common language for assessing and benchmarking organisational capabilities across the APS
  • a flexible framework that allows new capabilities to be standardised and assessed.

Included in a previous post on organisational capability was an interactive chart that enabled high level analysis of APS organisational capability by agency function. To complement this, the following chart provides a view of organisational capability at the whole-of-APS level and by agency size.

Interactive Chart: Agency Capability

Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 1.

Across the APS innovation is an area where the gap between current and required capability states is the greatest. When assessing innovation by agency size, small and medium agencies have a much smaller gap between current and required level of capability than observed in large and extra-large agencies.

Agency size influences differences in capability gaps as the majority of agencies report that in order to meet organisational outcomes in the next three years, capability needs to be deployed across the entire agency. This would be a more difficult task in agencies with 1,000 or more employees.

In small agencies the need for specific capability development is lower than in other agencies. Rather, there is a greater need to develop processes to measure the effectiveness of performance management, workforce planning and talent management capabilities and whether this leads to improvement in the capabilities.