Preparing for a service review

Archive services should enhance their impact and organisational resilience through a programme of continual improvement. Structured service review and the resulting transformational programmes underpin continual improvement.

Organisational review, change and improvement

This involves reviewing all aspects of the way in which the organisation and, in some cases, the wider system works (not the end service, but everything which goes on behind the scenes) and the organisation’s results (as shown by data trends).

Service review and development

These reviews are designed to ensure that the service offer, pricing structure and the way the services are marketed continue to develop and change, so that:

  1. strategic outcomes are pursued (including new outcomes)
  2. income generation is maximised (this is becoming an increasingly important goal for many)
  3. the changing needs and wants of the community are met

Process review and improvement

Process reviews can be very valuable within archive services, especially within larger organisations.  The reviews consider the flow of the ‘end-to-end’ sequence of steps involved in developing, delivering and managing the service.  The goal is to improve process flow to:

  1. improve the service provided to the customer by making the process more seamless, responsive, faster and consistent
  2. improve staff satisfaction with their work and reduce stress
  3. reduce unnecessary costs (Note: in process reviews this can never involve making people redundant or changing their terms and conditions)
  4. free people’s time, to allow them to focus on more creative work

Personal review and development

This type of review activity provides a structured approach for supporting people to develop their skills, adopt new behaviour patterns and change their ways of thinking.


Kaizen is a Japanese concept and way of working, which literally means continuously moving towards the optimum state.  It requires continuous improvement of everything you do. Note: this is not ‘continual’ (regular but periodic), but rather is ‘continuous’ (all the time). Kaizen sessions are used by functional teams to agree and commit to minor changes to the way they work.  They often as frequent as once a week and could last for just 20 minutes.