Undertaking service reviews through in-house teams

Categories: Article

This article explores options for setting up teams for managing a service review program. The team structure and individual roles will differ depending on the size of the council. Below is a typical team structure for managing and resourcing an in-house service review program.

Steering group

Under this sample structure a Steering Group is assigned responsibility for providing overall direction and leadership for the service review program. It typically approves priorities and schedules, provides strategic input into service reviews, and endorses the final reports and recommendations. The Steering Group usually comprises members of council’s Executive Leadership Team. Other possible members include an elected representative, the chairperson of the Consultative Committee, and managers of core services such as human resources, corporate planning and financial management.

Project team

A Project Team may be established to coordinate the service review program across the organisation. This usually consists of two or three staff members, depending on the number and rate of reviews that are planned. The role of the Project Team usually includes prioritising and scheduling service reviews, establishing service review teams, providing guidance and support for the teams, checking service review reports, and monitoring and reporting on progress.

Service review teams

The Service Review Teams run the individual reviews on a day-to-day basis. There are various approaches to setting up review teams. Some councils use one team to review all services. This achieves a high level of consistency and is generally an efficient method. However, it requires a high commitment of full time resources, and can be onerous for the team members. It can also lead to general staff dissatisfaction and non-acceptance of outcomes.

Another option is for line managers and their teams to undertake the service reviews within their areas of responsibility. This is generally expedient; however it can lack independence and objectivity. An effective approach is to establish service review teams comprising representatives from across the organisation. This is generally more difficult to coordinate and requires a higher commitment to training. However, it usually achieves a higher level of staff involvement and ownership across the organisation.

Each Service Review Team is assigned one or a number of reviews. The teams are responsible for various activities including engaging with stakeholders, gathering information, benchmarking, exploring and analysing options, and preparing recommendations.

Review panels

An effective method for achieving independency and consistency is to establish one or more review panels. Each panel is usually chaired by a member of the Steering Group from outside the area being reviewed, and comprises two other senior staff. For smaller councils this could be performed by one person.

The service review teams present their data and findings to an assigned review panel. The panel is charged with challenging the service information provided, and identifying other options and opportunities for improvement.

A variation on this approach is to engage an external review panel from outside the organisation to provide a greater level of independence, and fresh input and advice to staff. The panel can assist with generating new ideas and innovative solutions, reviewing the work undertaken by staff, and challenging the thinking and views of staff.

Each Service Review Team is assigned one or a number of reviews. The teams are responsible for various activities including engaging with stakeholders, gathering information, benchmarking, exploring and analysing options, and preparing recommendations.

Review panels

An effective method for achieving independency and consistency is to establish one or more review panels. Each panel is usually chaired by a member of the Steering Group from outside the area being reviewed, and comprises two other senior staff. For smaller councils this could be performed by one person.

The service review teams present their data and findings to an assigned review panel. The panel is charged with challenging the service information provided, and identifying other options and opportunities for improvement.

A variation on this approach is to engage an external review panel from outside the organisation to provide a greater level of independence, and fresh input and advice to staff. The panel can assist with generating new ideas and innovative solutions, reviewing the work undertaken by staff, and challenging the thinking and views of staff.


The SmartGov Team