Purpose of this Blog


ARPA is committed to developing an assessment framework and system to help define, monitor and recognize outstanding performance in recreation, parks, arts, culture and community-building organizations and agencies. The development process began in May 2010 and will be complete in November 2011. This blog is intended to keep stakeholders informed and to facilitate their input and advice. If you are visiting the blog for the first time, you might be interested in starting with the initial November 2010 posts:

- Why we need this initiative?
- The Process of Creating a Service Excellence Program
- We've Reviewed Over 200 Related Assessment Tools
- The Modules and Core Organizational Competencies.

Showing posts with label Background. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Background. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Great Examples of Service Excellence Assessment Tools/Programs

We are working to arrange access to our Diigo resource, an annotated online service that connects you to over 200 assessment tools related to programs, facilities, parks, community building and management.  In the meantime, here's a short list of some examples that have impressed us:
  • Cultural Competency - the Minnesota Department of Health Services has developed an organizational self-assessment tool using 56 competencies in five categories (service delivery and quality management, human resource practices, governance/community relations/marketing, administration and policy, organizational culture) http://www.dhs.state.mn.us/main/idcplg?IdcService=GET_DYNAMIC_CONVERSION&RevisionSelectionMethod=LatestReleased&dDocName=id_016429 
  • Excellence Framework for Sport and Recreation Services - A Sport England initiative.  A performance managment framework for sport and recreation services that helps local governments assess performance based on four levels (poor, fair, good and excellent).  Criteria and indicators are provided in eight areas: leadership, policy and strategy, community engagement, partnership working, use of resources, people management, standards of service, performance measurement and learning. http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/aio/4433678 
  • National Occupational Standards for Community Development - Lifelong Learning UK lists practice guidelines in seven key areas: understand and practice community development, understand and engage with communities, take a community development approach to group work and collective acction, promote and support a community development approach to collaborative and cross-sectoral working, support community learning from shared experiences, provide community development support to organizations, manage and develop community development practice. http://www.ukstandards.org.uk/Admin/DB/0030/Community%20Development%20S1%20to%20S8.pdf
  • New York AfterSchool Network Program Quality Self-Assessment Tool - organized around ten essential elements of an effective afterschool program, all of which come from evidence-based practice, with quality indicators for each element: environment/climage, administration/organization, relationships, staffing/professional development, programming activities, linkages between day and afterschool, youth participation/engagement, parent/family/community partnerships, program sustainability/growth, measuring outcomes/evaluation. http://www.nysan.org/userfiles/file/nysan/overview_QSA_tool.html 
  • New Zealand Recreation Facility Management Guidelines - The New Zealand Recreation Association has published very detailed guidelines in the following areas: people, communication and promotion, financial management, asset mansgement, risk management, monitoring and evaluation, planning, customer care, programs and events, facility design, contract and lease management, governance. http://www.nzrecreation.org.nz/Default.aspx?section=organisation&page=projects 
  • Review of Current Approaches to Performance Measurement in Protected Area Management - Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has developed performance indicators for: parks systems, mangement systems, protecting individual species, ecological habitat and ecosystem monitoring, fire management, pest and weeds, habitat rehabilitation, human use and recreation. http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/publications/best-practice/pubs/perf-measurement.doc
  • Seattle Parks and Recreation, Best Management Practices - a series of very deailted best maangement practices focused on landscaped and natural parkland and the assets located in those areas.  Themes include: construction site management, greenhouse operations, integrated pest management, irrigation management, natural areas, nursery operations, plant bed management, turf management. http://www.cityofseattle.net/Parks/projects/bmp.htm
  • Service Excellence Program, Government of South Australia - The Department for Families and Communities has developed a Service Excellence Program that supports two achievement levels.  Critical elements and a performance check list for each are provide in several key categories: sound management, leadership, communication, working together, consumer satisfaction, service outcomes, contracting, people.  In each category there are two sections: essential minimum and organizational learning. http://www.dfc.sa.gov.au/pub/default.aspx?tabid=267 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Process of Creating a Service Excellence Program

In 2009, Rick Curtis (Executive Director, ARPA) came across an Excellence Framework for Sport and Recreation Services developed by Sport England  (http:www.idea.gov.uk/idk/aio/4433678).  This led to a search for similar tools and we quickly learned of many similar initiatives.  Australia, New Zealand and England appeared to be in the lead.

A discussion paper was prepared looking at the various challenges involved in crafting something similar for Alberta, and perhaps all of Canada.  The paper generated some excitement and a consultant was commissioned to lead the process (RETHINK).

During the period from May to October 2010, the following steps were undertaken:
  • refinement of the initial discussion paper based on feedback from the ARPA leadership team
  • initial discussions with ARPA's provincial/territorial partners to determine engagement interest
  • an international scan for assessment tools that might inform our development process
  • cataloguing all assessment tools using Diigo, to capture the resources ready reference during this initiative and for others
  • prepartion of an early draft of each of five modules (community building, programs, facilities, parks, management) that identified core organizational competencies, practice guidelines and quality indicators for each module
  • hosting of an invited leadership forum at the ARPA annual gathering in Jasper - inviting critical review to see if we were on the right track.  Participants indicated strong support for the principles and directions being taken AND, of course, offered a great deal of constructive criticism.
For the next 12 months, we will:
  • host additional review workshops
  • establish expert panels, one for each module, to bring the best available operational expertise to the table
  • carry on our search for the best possible indicators of optimal practice and service quality
  • work with 5-10 communities of all sizes in Alberta to pilot a draft assessment tool
  • refine the framework, model and approach based on all of the above, and
  • spend some time developing an implementation and launch strategy - including recommendations for governance/management of the ongoing service excellence program, financial sustainability and marketing.
All of this will be available for stakeholder review at the 2011 ARPA Conference in Lake Louise, Alberta.

If you would like to see electronic copies of the Discussion Paper, please use the comment section to provide your email address.

We've reviewed over 200 related Assessment Tools

Early in the process, we identified over 200 related assessment tools.  Each was carefully reviewed: to learn about approaches to assessment and to identify practice guidelines and related success indicators for the recreation and parks field.

All of these resources are available online and they cover every aspect of our work:
  • 34 tools addressed recreation facilities
  • 41 focussed on parks and natural area management
  • 75 looked at program services (recreation, sport, arts, culture,after school, early childhood, etc.)
  • 15 were about community building, and
  • 95 addressed various aspects of management.
These resources have already been used to design the principles and approach to be taken.  They will continue to be used by our Advisory Team to ensure that we are building on the best approaches available.  And they will be used by each Expert Panel as they refine the actual practice guidelines and indicators that will be used in each of five modules of the Framework (community-building, programs, facilities, parks, management).

The 200 assessment tools have all been catalogued using Diigo - essentially an online annotated bibliography that allows you to search by the module categories and/or key words.  Someone using this Diigo service could look for assessment tools for:
  • children's cultural programs
  • sport programs
  • gender equity in sport
  • inclusion in facility design
  • natural area parks
  • risk management in facilities,
  • etc.
Having searched and found a number of related annotations, the user can click on a link at the bottom of each annotation and go directly to the web source.  Generally, the full assessment tools are available for download.

We are in the process of making this Diigo resource available to anyone who is interested.  Please leave a comment with your contact information if you would like access; we'll keep you informed.

WHY do we need this initiative?

For the last two decades, every organization that depends on stakeholder support has been under increased pressure:
  • to be effective and efficient
  • to adopt best and promising practices
  • to benchmark and compare
  • to provide quality assurance
  • to be accountable, and
  • to measure performance.
Canada has many examples of accreditation processes (HIGH Five), guidelines (BC Pool Guidelines), and standards (BC Therapeutic Recreation Association Standards of Practice.  However, they are often specialized rather than comprehensive; have a tendency to minimum performance standards; and others are generic and not specific enough for recreation and parks agencies.

No approach, model or framework has generated the support to become firmly established.  Our recreation and parks 'profession' is without a clear and accepted body of practice that defines organizational competencies and/or service excellence.  Many would argue that we cannot be a profession without this work.  This Service Excellence Framework will fill this gap.

The Framework is being developed and piloted in Alberta with the support of several provincial/territorial partners of ARPA.  We strive to ensure that it will be successful and gradually adopted across Canada.