What constitutes "Service Excellence" for those who deliver parks and recreation services? ARPA is well on the way to finding out with a new initiatve called SEP.
SEP, an acronym for "Service Excellence Program" which focuses on helping municipal government at first and eventually other recreation and park organizations to determine what organizational practices must be in place to ensure excellence in the areas of programs, parks, facilities, community building, leadership and management.
Ultimately, the intent is to ensure sports, fitness, outdoor recreation, parks management, structure, non structured, active and passive forms of recreation, social, creative and cultural activities, natural areas and environmental protection work are well positioned as a quality of life strategies essential to overall well being, life satisfaction, happiness and sense of belonging.
Along the way, several operating philosophies have been endorsed which are:
- the recreation and parks field - staff and volunteers have a major responsibility for community building
- this field has a committment to diversity and accessibility for all
- a belief in an outcome or benefits driven approach to program/service delivery
- acknowledgement that we share our outcome focus with many fields and we value partnerships that leverage resources and optimize a positive impact (other fields are health, education, social services, justice, environment, tourism, economic development)
- a clear understanding of the 'sustainability imperative'
The core of this Program is the Assessment Tool and organizational development Action Plan. Since its introduction in draft form at last October's ARPA conference, it has been reviewed three times by expert panels (120 Participants) and is now in the final stages of PILOT testing with seven Alberta communities: Beaumont, Calgary, Cochrane, Edmonton, Leduc, Leduc-County, Okotoks.)
While PILOT testing has confirmed SEP is developing on the RIGHT track, PILOT assessors have suggested many specific improvements and enhancements to make SEP more customized and user friendly. A "big hats off" to the leadership and dedication these 7 organizations have shown in completing this PILOT Phase by June 20th .
ARPA Board of Directors Weigh In:
On June 2, the Service Excellence Advisory Team (SEAT) hosted a webinar and orientation session for the ARPA Board of Directors where an overview of SEP context, process and content was provided; additional good advice was gathered from the Board for further revisions.
The Proposed version of SEP will be presented to SEAT for endorsement on June 29th and then on to the ARPA for final look/review over July and August by the Board Directors and all other participants involved in the process to date. The FINAL SEP will presented to the ARPA Board for approval at their Board meeting in Sept./11. There will be a Sept. 13th Webinar to review and discuss final document and take time then for questions and further orientation.
- SEP will be launched at the ARPA conference on Oct. 27th in Lake Louise
- Excitement is building from using SEP as a comprehensive yet practical program; it has shown to define sound guidelines for governing a broad field.
- SEP measures outcomes, highlights the importance of ongoing improvement and provides coaching to organizations to help them achieve service excellence.
The end result for an organization after completing an "Implementation of SEP " will be :
- strengthened staff and stakeholder confidence in the organization's delivery of recreation, sports, fitness, active living, arts, culture, heritage, community building/development and parks with proper leadership/management of all related programs, services and facilities.
- a direct link and proof for our stakeholders that the work of parks and recreation practitioners is essential and does make a difference to the quality of life for people in our all communities - big and small.
ARPA wants you to please share your thoughts, questions and suggestions for improvement by using this Blog....... Thank you.