Performance improvement actions

We have identified five development goals as focus areas for the next 18 months to help us improve our performance. We recognise we need to work with and learn from others to develop the best ideas and solutions for transport in the New Zealand economy. 

Development goal 1: be clear, consistent and strategic in our policy advice 

We will strengthen our capability to give expert policy advice by identifying key issues, using good policy practice to develop a view on these issues, and clearly communicating this view.

We have developed internal processes to take a more strategic approach to the longer-term issues that impact on transport. We will embed these over the next 12 to 18 months. 

We apply high standards and project management methodology to our policy advice. This will help us evaluate our advice (while recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be applied). We will continue to focus on improving the quality of our policy advice and the evidence base that underpins it. 

In addition to our high-quality standards, we undertake an external audit of the quality of our written policy advice. This audit is conducted by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and provides a performance indicator for the quality of our advice against that of other government agencies. This enables the Ministry to identify key areas for improvement and measure progress over time. Other mechanisms, including ministerial surveys, are also used to provide information on the quality of the Ministry’s performance. 

Development goal 2: be more flexible at managing ourselves to focus on what matters most 

We will work to achieve a culture of good programme and project management at the Ministry. This includes developing sound governance arrangements, identifying benefits and how we will measure these, and ensuring that we have the information needed to make sound priority and resource decisions.

We will become better at identifying our priorities, allocating resources and ensuring that we are timely, effective and efficient in our work. We will also make better use of the knowledge, skills and experience of staff. This means being clear about the information and knowledge we hold, using it effectively and making good use of the information management tools that we now have.

Development goal 3: work in partnership with our stakeholders

We cannot do our job successfully without effective engagement with a range of key stakeholders.

Transport providers and users are extensive. The delivery chain for desirable outcomes (collective or private) is a long and tenuous one involving government, local authorities, operators, manufacturers, network providers, supply chain managers, individual businesses and individuals.

We will work to maintain a close and effective relationship with our transport partners in government and the transport sector generally. 

Development goal 4: develop and challenge our people

The capability of our staff lies at the heart of the professional services ministry. We have a strong focus over the next 18 months to develop and challenge our staff.

We have recently implemented the Lominger competency methodology across the Ministry. Identifying and aligning core competencies for adviser and policy support roles throughout the organisation has enabled us to focus on developing the skills required to achieve our capability and output goals.

From 1 July 2010, our professional development programme will be revised to develop the core competencies essential to best achieve our role as trusted adviser to our Ministers. This programme has been extended to provide career progression paths for policy staff, both within the Ministry and across the transport sector where appropriate. In addition, a leadership component for staff with identified high potential has also been included.

The development programme now includes focused training and learning options that allow staff to learn on the job. It will balance clear development and career paths with the need for more broader and flexible policy expertise across a range of diverse work.

A programme of work is in place to make best use of our expertise in a range of programmes, projects and activities. It is designed to create opportunities for all our staff to work in different areas and to take on more challenging work. This programme reinforces the Ministry’s more flexible approach to staffing and encourages staff to put themselves forward for projects that are both stimulating and developmental.

We have participated in a second Gallup Q12 Staff Engagement Survey. The results of this survey will again form the base for team-level efforts aimed at significantly improving staff engagement and productivity.

Development goal 5: have business systems that support us

Having the right systems, tools and information is a priority for any effective organisation. We will review all of our business services to ensure they are ‘fit for purpose’ to support our new mode of working as a professional services ministry. Two key areas are strengthening our information services and financial and economic support for advisory services.

As part of our reorganisation we have established a new role of Chief Information Officer, whose goal is to improve our ability to provide expert advice to our Ministers. We will ensure that our information systems contain high-quality information, are easy to use and fit for purpose, and are effective and efficient work processes. In addition to this, a new role of General Manager Financial and Economic Performance has been established, along with a financial and economic analysis team, to provide high-quality economic and financial advice to policy projects.

The Ministry is now in the final stages of implementing its electronic document and records management system. Effective use of this is critical to achieving our goal of being a professional services ministry. It will also enable us to meet our compliance obligations for Public Record Standards.

Business systems are not just about technology. They also include the workflows and processes that we need in place to produce good work in a well-managed and timely manner.

We also established a programme management office to support better programme and project management. Last year we established processes for better managing the prioritisation and allocation of staff time. We will continue to improve these arrangements over the next 18 months. 

Key performance indicators

We are currently working on a set of performance indicators to evaluate our organisational performance. This will include measures of the quality of our policy advice and other quantitative and qualitative indicators that measure progress in our move towards professional service operations.

We plan to apply the Performance Improvement Framework to assess whether we have achieved our development goals. We will do this in the second half of 2011.

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