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Opportunities and risks: Recent research on shared services in the community sector Dr June Lennie June Lennie Research and Evaluation

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Presentation on theme: "Opportunities and risks: Recent research on shared services in the community sector Dr June Lennie June Lennie Research and Evaluation"— Presentation transcript:

1 Opportunities and risks: Recent research on shared services in the community sector Dr June Lennie June Lennie Research and Evaluation NCOSS seminar, Sydney 10 November 2008

2 Outline of presentation Overview of the Multi-Tenant Service Centre (MTSC) Pilots Project Location of the three pilot projects Evaluation project and methods Key findings and learnings Conclusions

3 The MTSC Pilots Project Conducted by Department of Communities, Queensland government Part of Strengthening NGOs project. Key strategy: to encourage greater use of shared services and collaborative arrangements Project aimed to co-locate service providers in a well located centre, with effective and transparent management, which enabled providers to improve client services Business cases for three MTSC pilots submitted in mid 2006

4 Locations of the three pilot projects Mackay: north Queensland coastal mining city Caboolture: regional hub 46km north of Brisbane Toowoomba: large provincial city 132km west of Brisbane

5 Services provided by the three centres include: Community development Legal services and tenant advocacy Older men’s support services Support and information services for women’s health, domestic violence and pregnancy Disability, accommodation and family support services Counselling and referral services

6 Overview of evaluation project Conducted from January 2007 - July 2008 Took a collaborative and responsive approach Aim was to identify the: challenges and strategies for sustainability and viability (through an initial literature review) expected benefits success factors risks, challenges and barriers to implementing the three pilots strategies used to overcome problems factors related to effectiveness of MTSC concept

7 Research and evaluation methods Literature search and reviews conducted in early 2007 and in June 2008 Questionnaires sent to government staff and consortia members in late 2007 Group discussions and interviews conducted in May - June 2008 Review of business cases and other documents Case studies of each site completed in July 2008

8 Learnings from the evaluation Anticipated benefits of the shared service model Benefits already evident in some sites Learnings about the MTSC model Type of organisation the concept is most effective for Risks, challenges and barriers to success Success factors in the project

9 Anticipated benefits Better accommodation and space Improved financial savings Access to more funding; capacity to take on larger projects Organisational and governance improvements Seamless referral process Improved service delivery and client access to services

10 Anticipated benefits (cont.) Increased skills and capacity building of staff and committee members New or shared knowledge, understanding and learning Broader perspectives and attitudes Building strong relationships and linkages and improved support Stronger capacity to advocate for clients and negotiate with government

11 Benefits already evident in some sites: Facilitation of a seamless referral process Sharing equipment and IT expertise Development of joint funding proposals Professional development of those at management level Building relationships and support Increased understanding of the suite of services in the organisations involved Better understanding of change management processes

12 Learnings about MTSC model Size of building a key issue – dictated amount of space and number of agencies that could co-locate Differences in size of agencies only an issue in pilot involving amalgamation of one large and two smaller services - factors included ‘fear of takeover’ and ‘fear of loss of identity’

13 Type of organisation the concept is most effective for Need to be complementary and have synergies Need a similar client base and demographics Should not be competing with each other Need a similar philosophy and common vision, goals and focus

14 Type of organisation concept is most effective for (cont.) Takes a community development focus Adopts a community service focus and use a client-focussed model of service delivery Ability to self-evaluate and shift to a model of sharing information and reflecting on process

15 Risks, challenges and barriers to success Sustaining commitment and energy Reaching agreement on the vision and the collaboration and governance models Managing communication and information sharing Managing relationships and other human factors Managing change and loss of leadership

16 Risks, challenges and barriers (cont.) Effects of establishment process on normal service delivery Securing adequate funding, support and resources Managing the building selection, development and design process

17 Success factors in the MTSC Pilots Project Commitment to making it work Support of local departmental staff Employment of local project officers Building cooperative relationships between parties involved Energy, flexibility and ability to embrace the new

18 Success factors (cont.) When communication was clear and information sharing was effective Holding visioning workshops Planning at the regional/consortium level Use of ‘fair’ decision-making processes Providing resources and training to support consortiums

19 Other key learnings and suggested improvements All relevant stakeholders need to be involved in the initial planning, design, implementation and consultation process Use longer timeframes - delays created frustration, uncertainty, and a loss of energy and commitment Need a shared understanding of all relevant issues and complexity of the process

20 Other key learnings (cont.) Need an effective internal and external communication strategy Staff need to be skilled in project management Include reflections on process, planning and implementation in monthly meetings

21 Conclusions Shared services can have many benefits. Some of these benefits had already been experienced in the three pilot sites. However, developing and implementing shared services is a complex process that presents many risks, challenges and barriers to success that need to be carefully considered. A ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work – each pilot site used different models that evolved over time. A flexible, action research approach is needed.

22 Conclusions (cont.) The shared service concept was not well understood or supported by all. Encouraging a focus on the ‘big picture’ of change and the long-term benefits was a challenge - greater understanding of the concept is clearly needed. Timeframe for establishing the MTSC pilots was much longer than expected - it can take two years or more to plan and set up a MTSC.

23 Conclusions (cont.) Taking time during the establishment phase to work through the change process, and reach agreement on the initial vision, is vital to success. Requires motivation, strong commitment and leadership, open communication, and maintenance of effective relationships and trust between everyone involved.

24 Thank you very much! For more information contact June at

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