More prevalent in governmental or healthcare roles, service improvement as part of process improvement is a phrase we are coming across a lot more.
We work on it with clients, and we believe we can help them with it. Having a wealth of experience in this sector and an abundance of tips to share, in this article, we’ll go over all things service improvement, and how process management, our specialty, fits into it.
What Is Service Improvement
At its core, service improvement is empowering staff to feel confident about taking on a wider range of tasks.
Service improvement covers:
- Involving various teams with decision-making and training allowing staff to cover a wider range of tasks
- Regular meetings between staff leaders and management teams
- Talent mapping and training needs analysis (TNA) that are relevant to each department’s development plan
- Development opportunities provided for all staff that meets their needs and requirements
- The development of more specialised staff through TNA and an education programme to support all staff
- Sharing knowledge with others
- Engaging on the ground with partners
- Motivating staff
- Encouraging continuous quality improvement
Service improvement is often connected to service transformation, with improvement focusing on bettering what is already there and transformation focusing on making changes.
There are three phases to service improvement:
- Discover and understand – you want to make sure you understand how things are currently working. Not just internally, but also taking into account any external factors that affect your service and its quality. To do this, you want to make sure that you can:
- Identify your service’s core purpose
- Know the demand for your service
- Know your capacity to deliver
- Understand customer flow in your service
- Generate and develop ideas – once you understand how your service is currently working, you can begin to think of ideas to improve and transform it. Involve everyone that contributes to the service: they will not only know what is happening on the ground, but they will probably bring you a variety of ideas to improve it based on their experiences. With this, focused quantity and creativity are encouraged, as you can build off of ideas.
- Implementation – having done the tests and found an idea that works, you can now implement those ideas on the ground. This in itself requires a process to make sure it is done correctly and there is no one missing out. You need to:
- Have a measurement plan in place to evaluate the implementation’s success
- Know what data you plan to collect to measure this success
- Have a clear communication system in the process and with your management
- Know who is responsible for what at all times
In all three phases of service improvement, there are three factors you always need to consider. They are:
- Stakeholders – anyone from management to patients or citizens in the case of healthcare or government are stakeholders as they are the ones that need to understand and essentially have the change work for their improvement.
- Measurements – as we saw above, it is necessary to know what the measurements currently are and what they are after implementation to truly know success has been achieved
- Sustainability – finally, focus on the ability to maintain those improvements. It’s one thing to have a super involved individual, but you can’t solely rely on that happening in every location, or that the individual will stay. You want to develop processes that are self-sustaining and will last.
If done correctly, service improvement done well will lead to quality improvement, which the NHS defines as a “systematic approach to improving service quality, efficiency and morale – not just a mechanism to solve problems in failing parts of the organisation. It is a way of expanding improvement beyond organisational or functional boundaries, so that impact is possible across the wider health and social care system”.
Service Improvement vs Process Management vs Service Design
If you are at all familiar with process management, especially as it pertains to continuous improvement, this will all sound similar.
Service improvement focuses on helping a specific service be the best it can be at any point in time. It involves a lot of moving parts and tight control and awareness of how those parts make a better whole for the entire team.
Process management is the steps you take to get to that improvement. And while we typically focus on business process management, it can be applied to services as well. After all, the end goal in both cases is always continuous improvement.
This means both service improvement and process management require those in charge to constantly be on the lookout for things that can be improved. Anything from a task that is taking too long to doubling up on information is something to keep note of as unnecessary and negative to the entire process.
Service design, on the other hand, is the design of new services. Specifically, it is “the activity of planning and organising a business’s resources to directly improve the employee’s experience and indirectly improve the customer’s experience”.
The goal is to create a service that responds to your organisation’s needs, both internal and external, with processes in place that serve this purpose. One of the outcomes of service design is eventual service improvement.
For a quick refresher, take a look at the chart below:
|Service Improvement||Process Management||Service Design|
|Arriving at an improvement of services offered by measuring data, working with stakeholders, empowering staff, and having good communication.||Managing the entirety of processes on a constant basis to ensure they run smoothly and you can find improvement spots.||Creation of a service in its entirety, keeping processes in mind to arrive at the end goal of continuous service improvement.|
How Does Process Management Lead to Service Improvement
There should not be any doubt at this point that process management will absolutely lead to service improvement.
The phases described above are the same as those involved with continuous process improvement, and the end goal in all cases is the same.
They use Six Sigma and the 7 Lean Wastes. The NHS’ own Handbook on Service Improvement dedicates an entire section to process mapping – something we consider ourselves experts in here at Skore. While the industry may be different from a regular organisation, healthcare and government institutions both also require process management to be successful in achieving their service goals.
Good process management is the key to it.
Without a clear plan in place for process management, services fall apart and issues mount.
At Skore, we’ve recently begun working with clients in these areas, and we have discovered how much we can help them.
Our platform provides mapping services easy for everyone involved to follow, incorporates responsibilities from the get-go so there is no confusion, gives you the data points you need, points out improvement points based on that data, and provides you with the possibility to run examples before implementing anything and seeing how they may affect the overall service experience.
The best part?
It provides you with a case study for you to show stakeholders which drastically lowerswait times for decision-making as it is a data-first approach.
Service improvement is, at the end of the day, a natural outcome of process management.
So many organisations focus on service above all, and the quality of that service, as they serve their patients or customers.
But the skills required are essentially the same. Which means the tools can be used in both cases.
If you’d like to learn more about how Skore can provide you with everything you need to elevate your services, get in touch or join our resource community for more exclusive content like this.