Building on the context and problem definition and within the scope, purpose and planning of the project, the next stage is for your project team to develop and assess system design solutions.

Depending on the nature of the problem you have identified and the scope of the review there are various system design options.

Kōwhiringa ā-hanganga, kōwhiringa kē atu hoki Structural and non-structural options

The key question to consider in developing options is how each possible solution will address the problem, and how it will contribute to the desired end state.

Options for change are often divided into those that:

  • require structural change (that is, usually requiring legislation or orders in council)
  • do not require structural change.

Solutions that are non-structural in nature could include:

  • delegation of authority
  • statutory independence for individuals or functions within an organisation
  • advisory committees and other mechanisms to build stakeholder voice
  • internal restructuring (for example, to improve transparency).

Non-structural options can provide greater flexibility and can often be implemented more quickly and cost effectively. However, they can create more complexity and can take time and effort to establish. You should always consider non-structural change and the status-quo as possible system-design solutions.

We have developed specific frameworks for problems involving mixed public policy and commercial objectives and regulatory issues.

Organising commercial and policy functions(PDF, 188 KB)

Organising regulatory functions (PDF, 166 KB)

Kete Hoahoa Pūnaha System Design Toolkit for shared problems

If you are dealing with a cross-organisational problem, our System Design Toolkit is intended to help you find the potential solutions, both non-structural and structural. The toolkit includes:

  • guidance for organising around shared problems
  • approaches according to how many organisations are involved

We developed the toolkit using 4 sources of knowledge:

  • the experience and evidence of what has been, and is being, attempted and successful in the New Zealand public sector
  • evidence and examples of cross-agency working overseas
  • academic literature and the input of several leading public management academics
  • ongoing evaluation that will test the solutions as they are used.

In the past, where problems crossed agency boundaries, the 2 main ways to organise our work on them were voluntary cooperation between agencies, or a structural change to place the whole problem within a single agency.

More recently, the public sector has used various approaches to collaboration that are stronger than purely voluntary cooperation but don’t involve changes to agency structures.

This toolkit organises and presents many of these solutions to give those grappling with cross-agency problems an easy way to find the types of solution that might be most appropriate.

Where the best answer is to allocate the problem to a different agency, our structural change advice continues to apply.

System Design Toolkit for shared problems 

Kōwhiringa ā-hanganga Structural form options

Where a change in structural arrangements appears desirable, this guide will help you to work through possible options for organisational form, whether using an existing or new agency, to arrive at a shortlist for discussion with Te Kawa Mataaho.  We expect users to include options in their shortlists for carrying out the proposed functions in a Public Service agency form (department, departmental agency, interdepartmental executive board or interdepartmental venture). 

Guidance: Advising on organisational form 

Te aromatawai kōwhiringa Assessing options

When you assess your options, you should consider how each potential solution will address the problem you have defined and what the trade-offs between them are.  You can consider perspectives such as wider system and sector, governance and accountability, performance and implementation.

You should draw on the information you gathered and the analysis you carried out so far. You will need to consider the context and desired state established in the project planning stages (and the Terms of Reference). Criteria should include:

  • costs and benefits 
  • how each option will affect service delivery, core functions and performance 
  • sustainability and future viability 
  • anticipated costs and risks of implementation 
  • legal considerations and requirements. 

As you assess options, it may become clear that other, unconsidered solutions may be appropriate. The process of developing options and assessing them ought to be iterative. It should also involve consultation and engagement and initial due diligence.

The following key questions indicate criteria for assessing options from the different perspectives. This is a similar approach to how we consider any proposal for structural change.

  • System/sector perspective

    • How does the option fit with the wider strategic context? 
    • How will it affect cohesion and integration of services around the customer? 
    • How will the option work with the wider sector and system and how will it add to the cohesion of the system? 
      • How well aligned is the option with the wider system and sector, for example are the goals and objectives aligned?
      • Will the option increase fragmentation of the system? 
      • Will it create overlap and/or duplication?
      • Will it create gaps? 
    • Sustainability and future viability — will the option be able to adapt and respond to changing circumstances? 
    • What are the risks from a system and sector perspective?
    • What other opportunities might this option give rise to?
  • Governance/accountability perspective

    • Are roles, mandates and lines of responsibility clear? 
    • Does the option create any conflicts of interest? 
    • Does the option affect decision rights and/or transparency of information for ministers?
    • How will independence regarding the exercise of statutory functions be managed? 
    • What are the risks from the perspective of ministers and how will they be managed?
  • Performance perspective

    • How will the option improve performance? 
    • How will it affect the delivery of core functions and services? 
    • How will it affect capability and/or capacity?
    • How will it affect costs and savings over time?
    • Is the option manageable in terms of size, span of control, and scope and grouping of functions?
    • Is the option appropriate to the scale of the service or function involved?
    • What are the risks to performance and how will they be managed?
  • Implementation perspective

    • How easy will it be to implement and what are the issues? 
    • What are the likely costs of implementation? 
    • What are the likely timescales? 
    • What are the risks to performance and the delivery of core functions and services during implementation and how will they be managed?