The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a Total Quality Management (TQM) tool inspired by the Excellence Model of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and the model of the German University of Administrative Sciences in Speyer. It is based on the premise that excellent results in organisational performance, citizens/customers, people and society are achieved through leadership driving strategy and planning, people, partnerships and resources and processes. It looks at the organisation from different angles at the same time, the holistic approach of organisation performance analysis.

The CAF is a result of co-operation among the EU Ministers responsible for Public Administration. It is jointly developed under the aegis of the Innovative Public Services Group (IPSG), a working group of national experts set up by the Directors General (DG) in order to promote exchanges and cooperation where it concerned innovative ways of modernising government and public service delivery in EU Member States.

The CAF is offered as an easy to use tool to assist public sector organisations across Europe to use quality management techniques to improve performance. The CAF provides a self-assessment framework that is conceptually similar to the major TQM models, EFQM in particular, but is specially conceived for the public sector organisations, taking into account their differences.

The CAF has four main purposes:

1.  To introduce public administration to the principles of TQM and progressively guide them, through the use and understanding of self-assessment, from the current “Plan-Do” sequence of activities to a fully fledged “Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)” cycle;

2.  To facilitate the self-assessment of a public organisation in order to obtain a diagnosis and improvement actions;

3.  To act as a bridge across the various models used in quality management;

4.  To facilitate bench learning between public sector organisations.

As a tool of Total Quality Management, CAF subscribes to the fundamental concepts of excellence as defined by EFQM: results orientation, customer focus, leadership and constancy of purpose, management by processes and facts, involvement of people, continuous improvement and innovation, mutually beneficial partnerships and corporate social responsibility. It aims to improve the performance of public organisations on the basis of these concepts.

Although CAF primarily focuses on the evaluation of performance management and the identification of its organisational causes to make improvement possible, contributing to good governance is the ultimate goal.

To summarise, self-assessment against the CAF model offers the organisation an opportunity to learn more about itself. Compared to a fully developed Total Quality Management model, the CAF is designed to be a user-friendly introductory model. It is assumed that any organisation that intends to go further will select one of the more detailed models. The CAF has the advantage of being compatible with these models and may therefore be a first step for an organisation wishing to go further with quality management.

We know that “CAF Works”!

The consultants at Imbility have an excellent theoretical background in the CAF and its mutual usage with other popular management disciplines like the Balanced Scorecard, the various frameworks for business process management and quality management according to the ISO 9001:2008 standard. We have been trained at the official CAF Resource Centre and we possess certificates issued by the European Institute for Public Administration in Maastricht, The Netherlands. We have also a practical experience in applying all of the mentioned methodologies.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you are ready to work together with us to raise the maturity of your organisation towards the best practices of the public sector in the EU.

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