Who can use the tool?
What resources are needed?
Development, ownership and support
Third sector examples
Development Trusts Association ‘Fit for Purpose’
Fit for Purpose is a diagnostic tool to help a new or developing community enterprise in assessing its strengths and areas for improvement against key criteria. Based on the original Development Trusts Association (DTA) Healthcheck (which remains available and is a part of the application process for DTA membership) it has been designed for community groups, businesses and organisations wanting to become community enterprises (rather than Development Trusts) to help them in their planning to become effective and resilient.
The tool checks whether the organisational building blocks are in place by:
Fit for Purpose is a booklet designed for unsupported use by any community organisation. It represents a user-friendly, non-prescriptive diagnostic tool to help a new or developing community enterprise in assessing its strengths and areas for improvement against key criteria. It aims to create or build on monitoring systems, forward planning and regular evaluation. Fit for Purpose can also form the basis of ongoing planning and support delivered by either DTA staff or others familiar with the process.
The tool consists of six sections, comprising a suggested list of supporting documentation followed by five areas relating to performance management. Each of the five areas addresses the key issues in setting up a successful community enterprise.
Within each section there is a range of up to seven Indicators, along with guidance for each on the questions to ask to inform each indicator and a three-point rating scale in order to assess progress: Met/Partly met/Unmet (with definitions for each) A ‘Comments’ box allows detailed responses to be made on each issue. The responses provide the basis for a report on the organisation when all the sections have been completed.
Emerging community organisations can use Fit for Purpose as part of their forward planning and visioning process; more established groups will also find it useful especially when revisiting organisational aims and objectives.
It is vital for the Chair of the Board of the organisation and the Chief Executive to take part in this process. A senior member of staff should complete Fit for Purpose, working with colleagues and, if appropriate, external support.
Proficiencies or skills
No prior expertise or experience is necessary but some experience in planning or organisational strategy would facilitate the process.
There are advantages in involving the majority of the Board and key staff in the review meeting to complete the process. Up to two full days for employees plus one day equivalent at Board level will be needed. Fit for Purpose will require no more time than is usually needed for the creation of a regular action plan or forward planning process. In completing the original document, the organisation will indicate a timeframe for moving forward with action plans identified through the process. Follow-up time necessarily depends upon the action plan created during the process. Fit for Purpose should be revisited regularly when planning processes or reviews are taking place within the organisation.
Courses, support, and information
Regional DTA staff can signpost individual trusts/organisations to support with the process, and on occasion overview/introductory workshops are also available (e.g., at the DTA’s annual conference). Further assistance could also be delivered by DTA employees or by appropriate consultants drawn from The Pool (the DTA consultancy service).
Fit for Purpose was created by the DTA and is within the public domain. Support throughout the process can, if required, be provided by the DTA's regional and national teams. Details of these can be accessed via www.dta.org.uk
“It provided us with a rigorous process to evaluate our Trust and the progress we had made. It also provided an opportunity for us to inform new staff on our activities and helped us to plan our future.”
- The Seedley and Langworthy Trust