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Directive OWB 97-33

DATE: 28 OCTOBER, 1997

OWB 97-33

Availability of Simply Better! Tools for Implementing Continuous Improvement Practices in Local Employment and Training Agencies.

To announce the publication and distribution of a new Simply Better! technical assistance guide, Service by Design.

All Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) Sponsors

Erich W. ("RIC") Larisch Chief Division of Older Worker Programs

Date: October 28, 1997

Expiration Date:  Not Given


Reference: Older Worker Bulletins 96-14 and 97-12.

Background: Simply Better! is a national technical assistance project designed to help employment and training organizations incorporate principles of continuous quality improvement into their daily operations. Simply Better! began in 1994 as a joint capacity building initiative among ETA's Office of Job Training Programs and the Seattle and Philadelphia Regional Offices. Since then it has expanded to include representatives of State governments, private industry councils, service delivery areas, sub-State grantees, local direct service providers, SCSEP sponsors and local project operators, and the other eight ETA Regional Offices.

The Service by Design publication is the latest in a series of Simply Better! publications. Previously published materials include: (1) The Self-Assessment System, designed to help organizations better understand their strengths and weaknesses in seven key management areas; (2) The Voice of the Customer, a guide to measuring customer satisfaction; and (3) Customers in Focus, a handbook on conducting focus groups. Ten thousand copies of these publications have been distributed nationwide during 1996-97, and extensive training of state and local agency staff and management has been conducted by ETA Regional Offices.

Service by Design: Service by Design is a practical seven-step process for improving a workforce development agency's every-day operations. Service by Design examines the points and places where an agency's customers come in contact with its services. These meetings can be called "transactions." A full program or "cycle" of services may consist of dozens of transactions between an agency and its customers. An agency can improve the overall quality of its programs and services by examining and improving each separate transaction in turn:

Step One: Identify an opportunity. Select a customer transaction or service cycle for improvement.

Step Two: Describe the key features of this service or transaction as the agency staff perceives them.

Step Three: Survey agency customers to find out how they perceive this same service or transaction.

Step Four: Identify and understand the gaps which may exist between what the agency thinks it is doing and what its customers really want.

Step Five: Identify possible and probable causes of these gaps between customer expectation and reality.

Step Six: Test the most promising improvements, measure the results and fine tune the process.

Step Seven: Implement the proposed changes and improvements. Repeat the process. Continuous improvement never ends.

The Service by Design publication consists of three booklets.

The Overview explains how the quality improvement process works and how it can improve customer satisfaction and results. It includes a 15-minute exercise that will help readers appreciate the strength of this technique.

The Guidebook contains an in-depth discussion of the rationale and methods behind the seven Service by Design steps, the analytical tools that quality improvement teams use, and some ideas for effectively implementing Service by Design techniques.

The Workbook leads quality improvement teams through the process step-by-step. It contains blank forms, graphs, worksheets and other practical materials.

Distribution: We are providing copies of the Overview to sponsors with this bulletin. Supplies of the Overview and the complete Service by Design publication are available through ETA Regional Offices. To order copies, please call the appropriate Simply Better! regional contact person from the attached list.

Action Requested: Inform appropriate staff, subgrantees, and sub-projects of the availability of Service by Design.


    For additional information regarding Simply Better!, please contact the Regional Office and ask to speak with a Simply Better! representative.

    Type of Document:


    Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

    Correspondence Symbol:


    List of ETA Simply Better! regional contacts.

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