A west Australian council has taken out an award after achieving efficiencies through an internal restructure.
The City of Bayswater’s SEED Project saw council undertake an internal review to improve resourcing and service delivery within the organisation.
The review marked the first holistic review of the organisation in twenty years.
Rather than outsourcing the review, the council’s CEO Mr Andrew Brien instead built small project teams of 4-5 staff from within council.
“The focus was on undertaking a review of all services council provides to look at opportunities for improvement as council went forward,” he told Government News
With immense opportunity to streamline services, transforming service delivery by minimising duplication and archaic services in favour of targeted, efficient services was a key goal for Mr O’Brien when he was appointed as CEO.
“What we found is over time as services are provided little bits and pieces are always added on and no one really ever had the opportunity to sit back and say ‘well, why do we still do that?,” he said.
“The review was really about getting rid of those silos and internal inefficiencies to get that right outcome for community in the long term.”
$800,000 in savings realised
Within just 6 months, council had identified 57 service areas for review and facilitated an organisational restructure resulting in efficiency gains double their target of $423,908, reaching more than $800,000 in actual cash savings over the 2017-18 financial year.
The project also saw council recognised for Excellence in Service Delivery at the 2018 WA LG Honours Awards last month.
After identifying key areas for review council then prioritised implementation based on key indicators such as potential cost savings, customer service improvements and reduction in red tape.
“We challenged the teams to question whether or not we needed to provide some services. They had opportunities to make recommendations or slash components of individual services. Everything was on the table whether in house or external,” he said.
“Throughout that process if we ever did find a quick win we jumped in and did that. So a lot was asked of the organisation during that period but the flow on benefit has been significantly positive so we’ve enjoyed that.”
The review also saw council develop an in-house reporting system with graphs and other detailed tracking information to ensure that all of the recommendations from the review were rolled out, and staff were held accountable for implementation.
Review “kickstarts major cultural reform”
It was the cultural shift from within the organisation that was the most fundamental benefit of the review, according to Mr Brien.
“From an organisational point of view it’s what the organisation needed to really kick-start a major cultural reform within the organisation and provide an opportunity for the organisation to take that big step forward and become a much more efficient, progressive and innovative local government,” he said.
As well as enabling a cultural shift, undertaking the review internally also enabled staff to upskill whilst also improving accountability.
“Taking a clean view of it all and challenging status quo has been a really enlightening experience for a lot of staff involved,” he said.
But the transformation has been well worth it, with council being positively received by both ratepayers and staff alike, with council receiving extensive praise in a recent staffing survey.
“From an employee perspective staff are certainly much more engaged. They’ve been involved in these reviews all the way through. The flow on effect for that have been higher levels of staff satisfaction internally but we have also seen a fairly big increase in the number of unsolicited positive comments from ratepayers.”
Mr Brien said that undertaking a review internally is absolutely essential to maximise the benefits of a restructure.
“It’s absolutely essential and it’s also essential that it has to be done from within. By empowering the organisation to challenge what they’re doing and getting them to think long and hard about why they’re doing it gives you a better outcome in the longer term.”
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