IRV Case Study Frankston City Council

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           Frankston City Council
A structured approach to problem solving and focused teamwork is delivering practical
benefits to ratepayers and employees at Frankston City Council.

Local government has come a long way         organisation. Using a structured problem-             to take part and by taking on board
from the days when its main concern was      solving framework known as FADE                       recommended changes arising from
roads and drains. Today, councils are key    (Focus, Analyse, Develop, Evaluate), the              the project,” she said.
community service providers, managing        teams identified and addressed issues                     Ian Holland, Frankston Council’s
multi-million dollar budgets and employing   ranging from management of the car                    Coordinator of Rates and Valuations
hundreds of people.                          pool to distribution of library books.                and the ASU shop steward, said his initial
    Frankston City Council is no                  “The objective was to provide                    concerns about the project were quickly
exception. The council covers around         improvements within the workplace                     put to rest.
131 square kilometres and services           and foster ownership of solutions                         “My major concern was that it was
a population in excess of 118,000.           and recommendations,” Ms Hunt said.                   not management unilaterally changing
    Meeting the community’s changing              Using the FADE methodology, the                  work process but rather a process
needs is a constant challenge for the        council embarked on eight improvement                 whereby the employees generated the
council. And with population forecast to     initiatives over 2004/05 resulting in                 workplace changes,” Mr Holland said.
grow by 20,000 over the next 15 years,       important changes to service delivery                     Mr Holland accepted an invitation to
demand for services is expected to rise      and internal management processes.                    be involved in the project, joining the first
accordingly.                                      “FADE provided a forum for                       FADE team and helping to shape many
    To meet these challenges and             innovation, change and continuous                     of the project outcomes. He described
improve existing services the council        improvement that fosters ownership of                 the partnership that formed between
recently embarked on a continuous            solutions and recommendations for staff               management, workers and the union
improvement project designed to improve      to the management team. It utilises the               as strong and effective.
teamwork and give employees a direct         energy and resources of the team to                       “The fact that management was
role in business-level problem solving.      achieve measurable bottom line results                prepared to embrace changes and
    With help from a Victorian State         in a prescribed time, usually over eight              suggestions coming from the workers
Government Partners at Work grant,           two hour sessions,” Ms Hunt said.                     was particularly beneficial. This approach
Frankston City Council’s Partnerships for                                                          showed people that they could solve
Community Benefit project has provided       PARTNERSHIP APPROACH                                  these issue without management
an innovative and effective approach to      The project started in mid 2004 with                  wheeling in an outside expert or
teamwork and service improvement.            the selection of the first two FADE teams.            being prescriptive about it,” he said.
                                             Staff were invited to take part in the                    A key objective of the project was
BACKGROUND                                   project and senior management was                     to improve partnership between the
Gretchen Hunt, an organisational             briefed on the FADE method.                           council’s operational departments and
development consultant who led the               Ms Hunt approached the council’s                  among staff. Particular effort went into
project, said council management was         lead unions, the Australian Services Union            recruiting team members from across
keen to improve teamwork between             (ASU) and the Association of Professional             the organisation and among different
three operating divisions while giving       Engineers, Scientists and Managers,                   occupational and skill groups.
staff more say in how services could         Australia (APESMA) to explain the                         “The FADE system was useful in
be improved.                                 project’s objectives and what it meant                improving work between departments
    The project sought to drive              for staff.                                            and solving problems,” Ms Hunt said.
continuous improvement in service                “The unions were very supportive of                   In all, 95 of the council’s 750 staff
delivery through a series of team-based      the project and contributed to its ultimate           took part in the project over 12 months.
improvement initiatives across the           success by encouraging their members

                                                  The Partnership Case Study Series examines better workplace practices in Victoria.                                                         All studies are published by Industrial Relations Victoria.
PARTNERSHIP CASE STUDY: Frankston City Council

“The project has changed the way people respond                                                                       KEY OUT-TAKES
to change and opened new, constructive ways of                                                                   • When forming a continuous
                                                                                                                   improvement team, recruit
dealing with problems.”                                                                                            members from across the
    Gretchen Hunt, Organisational Development Consultant, Frankston City Council                                   organisation to ensure a “fresh”
                                                                                                                   perspective on issues.

COMMUNICATION                                          the project. The new library courier                      • Choose project sponsors carefully.
The project was promoted within the                    system, for example, has streamlined                        Make sure they are genuinely
council through a series of presentations,             book delivery between the council’s                         committed to the improvement
team meetings, information sessions                    three library branches, ensuring faster                     process and are sufficiently senior
and the council’s internal staff publication.          turnaround and fewer delays.                                to cut through red tape.
    Before the start of each initiative,
team members received training in the                  LESSONS LEARNED                                           • Remember to include sufficient
FADE method. This helped build a sense                 Finding sufficient time in an already busy                  time in your project plan for
of teamwork and established clear                      day to participate in FADE activities was                   training all team members in
performance benchmarks.                                one of the key challenges facing team                       your chosen methodology. This
    “The objective is to focus on the                  members. This was addressed in part by                      can save time and money down
problem not the symptoms. Once they                    keeping FADE meetings to two hours and                      the track.
define a problem, the team then moves                  scheduling the meetings well ahead of
into analysis. Only after they have                    time. Line managers were briefed in
                                                                                                                      PARTNERS AT WORK PROGRAM
researched and benchmarked the problem                 order to gain their support for staff
do they then move towards a solution,”                 taking time away from their main                          • Partners at Work is a Victorian
Ms Hunt said.                                          duties to participate in FADE activities.                   Government competitive grants
                                                            Mr Holland said he would recommend                     program designed to promote
BENEFITS AND ACHIEVEMENTS                              the partnership approach to other councils.                 workplace change that benefits all
Initiatives undertaken during the project                   “We would certainly do this again                      stakeholders within an enterprise.
included an investigation into use of the              in the future. The partnership gave
council’s financial reporting system in                employees and management a good                           • The program emphasises
order to reduce delays in applications.                outcome and that is the way it should be.                   increased employee participation
     FADE teams also worked on a new                   The most important thing is to get ideas                    and improved workplace
library courier system and improvements                from the floor because if staff don’t                       relationships.
to the council’s car pool system. Other                take ownership of the change, it is never
issues addressed included the use of                   going to work. That is the lasting legacy                 • Businesses have used the
event-scheduling software, understanding               of this project.”                                           Partners at Work program in
of the customer service team’s role                                                                                many ways to improve their
and a new system for handling land                     LOOKING TO THE FUTURE                                       workplaces and organisational
use compliance complaints.                             While the Partnerships for Community                        performance.
     “What stands out about the                        Benefit project officially ended in mid
partnership project is the range of benefits           2005, Frankston City Council continues                    • The Victorian approach is for
it has delivered to the council,” Ms Hunt              to use FADE teams to pursue continuous                      management and employees, and
said. “The property creation team has led              improvement.                                                their representatives, to be seen
to important changes in how we operate.                    “The project has really focussed                        as partners in the shared future
In the past it could take five months from             people on the benefits of team-based                        of an enterprise.
lodging a subdivision application to it                problem solving,” Ms Hunt said. “The
being registered in our Pathways system.               process was valuable because it got
By investigating the process and asking                senior management involved and endorsed
questions, we have have slashed property               the need for improvement. It also gave
registration times to just five weeks.”                us the resources to change.”
     Ratepayers, too, are benefiting from                                                     April 2006

                                                             The Partnership Case Study Series examines better workplace practices in Victoria.                                                                    All studies are published by Industrial Relations Victoria.

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