This series of good practice guides share practical tips on how to improve the quality and efficiency of day-to-day services provided by government. They are for people in organisations that provide or manage individual services, or parts of them.  

We’re sharing our insights from over 10 years of work auditing government’s capability in designing, managing and improving operational services. 

The guides cover three themes that will help you improve quality and reduce costs in your service.

How to use these guides

Each guide contains:

  • insights to focus on 
  • challenges you might be experiencing in your organisation
  • ideas on how to address challenges
  • questions to ask to prompt your thinking on where you are now and what to work on
  • practical tips to address challenges
  • case studies from government organisations that have improved a service.

Every organisation is different, so there’s no single recipe to follow for improving your service. These guides are not a comprehensive list of everything you need to know or do. You’ll need to consider your organisation’s context and think about how the challenges and ways of working apply in your situation.

Managing demand

The following six insights will help improve how you understand and manage demand for your service.

  • Plan for peaks and troughs. You need to know if the process can provide the quality of service expected if the level of demand changes.
  • Focus on user needs. The way you work should be informed by what matters to service users.
  • Understand process flow. You should understand how demand flows through the steps of the process and where there are pinch-points and dependencies.
  • Avoid one size fits all. You need to know if your ways of working meet the needs of the different types of people using the service.
  • Improve the quality of inputs. Improving the quality of what comes into the process will allow you to complete work faster and right first time.
  • The right skills and tools. The people providing the service must have the skills and tools they need to do their jobs.

Download the full guide: Managing demand (pdf – 2 MB)

Using information

The following four insights focus on using information to improve your service’s performance.

  • Measures that matter. You need to measure service performance based on what matters to the people who use it.
  • Understanding reasons for performance. You need to understand the reasons for process performance.
  • Skills and support for decision-making. Giving people providing services the skills to make decisions using performance information and supporting them to do it.
  • Using information to improve. Using information to improve service performance rather than just reporting.

Download the full guide: Using information (pdf – 1 MB)

Systematic improvement

The following four insights focus on making systematic improvement to your service.

  • Gather and use information. You need the right information to fix the problems that matter for your service users.
  • Build capability and obligation to improve. Ensuring that people have the skills, tools, time and support to improve and are expected to do so.
  • Get the right people involved. Making it possible for everyone to contribute, and valuing their different backgrounds, knowledge and experience.
  • Learn and improve across boundaries. Fixing problems and sharing learning between different parts of your organisation and different organisations.

Download the full guide: Systematic improvement (pdf – 1 MB)


How to use interactive PDFs

Some PDF interactivity will not work in full-screen mode on your browser. To view these PDFs in full-screen mode, it is best to:

  • download the PDF to your computer
  • open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat
  • press Ctrl-L (on a PC) or Command-L (on a Mac) to enter full-screen mode