Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration identified a number of important agency capabilities such as leadership, citizen engagement, policy development, program delivery and workforce planning. These capabilities are critical to preparing the Australian Public Service (APS) to meet the challenges of the future.
In this year’s State of the Service agency survey, APS agencies were asked to indicate their current and required positions on a five-level maturity model for key agency capabilities. The following table provides definitions of the five maturity levels for each of the agency capabilities.
|Capability level Organisational capability||1
|1. Leadership||Organisation’s leadership has not created a unifying culture and set of values and behaviours.
Vision statement does not exist.
Communication by leadership infrequent,with little cascading of key messages and information.
Leadership does not seek feedback, or contribution from staff.
|Leadership is developing a unifying culture and set of values and behaviours.
While a vision statement exists, there is varying levels of buy-in from across the organisation.
While mechanisms for feedback have been established, they are sporadic and no evidence that feedback is being acted on.
|Leadership, now clearly visible, has created a unifying culture.
There is a meaningful and coherent vision for the whole organisation.
While the organisation’s leadership shows a preparedness to engage with staff; there is little evidence of action to address issues and concerns identified through infrequent staff surveys.
|As in 3, but with the organisation’s leadership now sustaining a unifying culture.
Coherent vision for the organisation regularly communicated.
Leaders are visible,outward-looking role models, actively engaging with staff and stakeholders. A regular staff survey conducted and any identified issues and weaknesses clearly addressed.
|As in 4, but with a unifying culture that promotes energy, enthusiasm and pride in the organisation and its vision.
Organisation’s leadership works effectively in a culture of teamwork, seeking out internal expertise, skills and experience.
|2. 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.
|3. Citizen engagement||Engagement largely confined to providing information to citizens on demand.||As in 1, but with some more active and targeted information dissemination.||Pockets of active consultation with citizens concerning service quality and new policy. This is characterised by low levels of audience segmentation and channel differentiation.||Proactive and ongoing consultation with citizens,with clear links to policy development and implementation.
Clear engagement guidelines in place.
Client segmentation in development.
|As in 4, but with citizens actively engaged through policy development to delivery phases.
Clear client segmentation.
|4. Innovation||Increasing recognition of the importance of innovation to business outcomes.
Poor technical expertise in innovation.
|General acceptance of the importance of innovation to business outcomes, but considerable variance in the support for innovation and the tools and strategies applied.||People capacity and enabling systems required to support innovation in place across the organisation.
Tools and databases in place.
|As in 3, but with a more centralised, strategic approach to innovation.
Strategies, incentives and data enable promotion and recognition of innovation throughout the organisation.
|As in 4, but with regular use of lessons learned and feedback loops in place to inform innovation strategies across the organisation.
|5. Policy development||Ad hoc policy processes in place. Few formal,documented processes or tools for policy development.||Policy development systems, processes and tools in development.
Pockets of good practice evident.
|Policy development systems, processes and tools consistently documented and applied across the organisation.
Policy proposals and advice soundly evidence based.
|As in 3, but with stakeholders, citizens and experts in academia or other sectors frequently consulted in the policy development process.
Organisation evaluates policy outcomes and lessons learned fed back.
|As in 4, but with stakeholders, citizens and experts engaged in the policy process from the earliest stages.
Organisation is outward facing, identifying emerging trends and anticipating changing policy demands.
|6. 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 issue sand generate common ownership.
|7. Program delivery and implementation||Increasing recognition of the importance of linking program delivery and implementation to a strategic plan and business outcomes.||While many programs are delivered successfully through ‘business as usual’ channels, the organisation faces difficulty when managing new and competing demands.
No regular reporting of program progress and status.
|Strategic outcomes operational through centrally defined and documented business planning processes.
Organisation has identified and agreed roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for delivery, including with third parties.
Regular progress reporting and tracking to the executive.
|As with 3, but business planning processes effectively priorities and sequence deliverables to focus on delivery of strategic outcomes.
Delivery plans are robust,consistent and aligned with a strategy so they will effectively deliver all strategic outcomes.
Effective control of the organisation’s resources maintained. Delivery plans include key drivers of cost,with financial implications clearly considered and suitable levels of financial flexibility within the organisation.
|As in 4, any tough decisions made on trade-offs between priority outcomes when appropriate.
As required, the organisation engages, aligns and motivates partners in other agencies and across the delivery network to work together to deliver.
Organisation ensures the effectiveness of its delivery agents through systematic evaluation and review.
|8. Project management||Increasing recognition of the importance of effective project management to achieving business outcomes.
Frequent budget and/or schedule over runs.
|Within pockets of the organisation, basic project management practices are emerging, such as clear project accountabilities and tracking key deliverables, timeframe's and resources.||Standard methodologies are applied to project management across the organisation. Tools and databases in place.
Program management office may have been established to monitor and advise on process across the organisation.
Tools and training available to managers.
Accurate forecasting of resource requirements takes place.
|As with 3, but processes managed more proactively and tailored to suit specific circumstances.
Measures of success at organisational level available.
Project planning outcomes aligned with the organisation’s strategic plan and business outcomes.
|As with 4, but able to anticipate and adjust to new project demands without losing momentum on outcomes to be delivered.
Effective identification and escalation of risk.
|9. Governance||Increasing recognition of the importance of effective corporate governance to achieving business outcomes.||Pockets of good practice where committee and governance structures underpin sound decision-making processes.||Centrally defined organisational controls build consistent standards of governance across the organisation.||As in 3, but with all initiatives based on a governance structure/process framework which is aligned to the organisation’s strategic objectives and priorities.||As in 4, with the portfolio governance processes sufficiently dynamic and agile to cater for rapid changes in business direction and priorities.|
|10. 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.
|11. 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 its 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.
|12. 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.
|13. 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 Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration, Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2010.
2 The required positions are the maturity levels necessary to achieve agency goals within the next three years.
3 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.