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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Continuous improvement

Continuous improvement promotes accountability and transparency. It is about being responsive, and striving for efficiency and effectiveness – key characteristics of good governance.

What is continuous improvement?

Continuous improvement is an ongoing cycle of evaluation and improvement. Following a continuous improvement process helps to refine the ways things are done to make them as effective and efficient as possible. In the long term, this leads to better use of resources and improved outcomes.

The continuous improvement process can be summarised as follows:

  1. Collect and interpret data to assess and identify opportunities to improve performance.
  2. Develop and implement an improvement plan.
  3. Re-evaluate performance.

Benefits of continuous improvement can include:

  • higher quality service provision;
  • costs savings and potentially income generation;
  • more efficient use of limited resources;
  • enhanced partnerships with other councils; and
  • increased capacity to operate effectively in a changing environment.

The continuous improvement process can be applied to the organisation as a whole, or individual departments, services or processes. Committing to continuous improvement builds the capacity of staff to think critically and systematically about the way they do the things they do, which leads to innovation.

Setting the scene for continuous improvement

Elected members play an important role in promoting continuous improvement: they can help to create an environment that supports continuous improvement and play an important role in championing a continuous improvement culture. An important part of promoting a culture of continuous improvement is acknowledging and celebrating successes as they occur.

Elected members may choose to develop a continuous improvement strategy to provide the context for a framework and process to be developed by the administration.

Continuous improvement as a council

Other than setting the scene for continuous improvement and celebrating success, elected members are most likely to engage in the continuous improvement cycle when data becomes available that relates to council performance. Council annual reports are the primary source of information on council performance, as well as the Auditor-General’s annual assessment of local government performance and position. Elected members can use this data to identify areas where there is scope to improve the performance of the council, and set priorities for performance improvement.

The City of West Torrens has a strong focus on continuous improvement. To find out more about the approach taken by the City of West Torrens, visit the Council’s website.

Continuous improvement for individual elected members

Continuous improvement is also important at the individual elected member level. It is incumbent on you as an elected member to ensure that you are representing your community to the best of your capacity, and acknowledging where there are opportunities for you to enhance your knowledge and understanding.

It can be daunting when you are first elected as a member of a council to find that you are expected to be making decisions related to matters in which you have no previous experience. This is often the case when it comes to approving budgets, or making land-use planning decisions. LGAT’s Councillor Resource Kit provides valuable information on the skills you require as an elected member and development opportunities.