How does the Performance Improvement Framework fit with the other business improvement tools?
The Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) was developed six years ago by a team from across the State services, including chief executives, to support continuous performance improvement across the State services. The team took the best of the United Kingdom’s Capability Review Programme and the best of the organisational improvement models from the New Zealand private sector, as well as methodologies from other jurisdictions, and adapted them for the New Zealand public management system.
The PIF has raised the bar on expectations across the State services, has aided transparency, stretched the thinking of senior leaders across government and helped foster greater collaboration on outcomes for New Zealanders. Senior ministers have commented that the programme is one of the best things the Public Service has done to itself, and it has grown to be internationally regarded as a very useful way to build a spirit of continuous performance improvement in government agencies and drive delivery of improved results for customers.
The PIF is supported by the three Central Agencies: the State Services Commission, the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, for use by New Zealand State sector agencies.
PIF inspires leaders in the State services to be the best they can be. By using the framework both in formal agency reviews and to assess their own agency performance in internal self-reviews, senior leaders can show that they are working to improve how they deliver services to their customers and that they are open and transparent about how well they are tracking toward achieving their long-term aims.
Users of the PIF start with the question: “what is the contribution New Zealand needs from this agency (or sector or system) in the medium term?” They then use the PIF to identify the critical gaps and opportunities between the current and desirable future capability and performance. This is the performance challenge described in the agency’s Four-year Excellence Horizon, which is developed through the review.
PIF follow-up reviews – typically carried out 18 months after a full agency review using the framework – show that agencies take PIF review recommendations seriously, and most are on track to meet their four-year goals. They demonstrate that they’ve made significant changes between the full Review and the Follow-up – including clarifying and embedding their organisational purpose and bringing the necessary culture change to meet their goals; improving their external engagement; improving their operating models; improving the quality and consistency of their policy analysis and advice; and continuing to build a stronger leadership role in their sector or system.
PIF has helped foster a culture of continuous performance improvement that shows New Zealand’s public institutions are serious about improving how they work and being transparent about it.
The PIF Review continues to improve and evolve. It is not an audit, an investigation or an accreditation process. Nor is it a report card or business process engineering. Rather, it is a review of an agency’s fitness-for-purpose – specifically, it considers the current state of an agency and how well placed it is to deal with the issues that confront it in the near- to medium-term future. It also includes a response from the agency that proposes areas where it will do the most work to make itself fit-for-purpose and fit-for-the-future.
The method of enquiry is qualitative, using a combination of desk-top analysis, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. It has the advantage of integrating publically available performance information, internal management information and the analytical abilities of the State Services Commission, the Treasury and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Finally, it relies on a robust peer review method. In summary, it is an integrated, deep, fast and independent – as well as published – review of State service agencies.
The framework has been upgraded four times – to include development of the Four-year Excellence Horizon in 2011, upgrades to the framework Elements of Financial and Resource Management in 2013, updates to seven framework Elements to support Better Public Services, and in 2015 to bring customers and the delivery of value to New Zealanders to the centre.
To date, every Public Service department and most major Crown entitles have had PIF Reviews, and many have had PIF Follow-up Reviews.
More information is available at www.ssc.govt.nz/performance-improvement-framework.
New guidance covering the latest refresh of the model was released in December 2015. It reflects developments in the suite of PIF products and services. As with any good performance improvement tool, PIF will continue to improve to meet the needs of Ministers, the public, chief executives, senior leaders and agencies in the wider State Services. To contact the PIF team email firstname.lastname@example.org.