This is Quality (Part One)

Continuous improvement built on understanding

Quality is now in the eye of the beholder. To provide a quality planning service, you don’t need to achieve a certain number or hit a target. You need to understand two things:

1. what makes your customers happy
2. what annoys them.

You then measure things that tell you if your service is achieving the former/avoiding the latter.

Sound simple?

Well PAS is launching the Planning Quality Framework in September 2014 to see just how simple we can make this.

Boiled down, the framework is a simple set of tools and techniques that helps councils to:

  • understand customer’s expectations about ‘good’ and ‘quality’ service
  • understand their own and stakeholder’s expectations about quality development
  • create a set of measures to tell if it’s being achieved
  • make reports that explain what’s happening to a variety of audiences
  • act; understand, learn, experiment, improve.

‘Good Quality Service’ – making the words jump off the page

For too long we have been using words like ‘quality’ and ‘continuous improvement’ as adjectives – ways to describe what we are and what quality service is and looks like. It is time for these words to become verbs – something that we do and has associated action(s).

So, instead of the Government, the Director or the bland set of words in the service plan describing what they think ‘good’ and ‘quality’ is, the framework gets the views of applicants, agents, neighbours, objectors, members and staff. They know much more about this.

It creates more useful measures e.g. how long do things really take, how much certainty do you provide and how much waste do you create ? Then, most importantly for me, it produces reports for your ‘audiences’ – helping you tell them what’s happening and what you’re doing about the things they care about most.