DTA Fit for Purpose

Primary purpose
Summary
Potential benefits
Who can use the tool?
What resources are needed?
Development, ownership and support
Third sector examples

Primary 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:

  • examining the organisational foundations necessary for a successful community enterprise.
  • highlighting areas of achievement and those with room for improvement.
  • providing a report on the health of the organisation.
  • identifying the organisation’s support needs.
  • providing an action plan to clarify how to move forward.

Summary

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.

  1. Governance
  2. Enterprise and business planning
  3. Financial management
  4. Partnership working
  5. Policies and procedures

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.

Potential benefits

  • Fit for Purpose can help to ensure that community enterprises hold certain common competencies and characteristics.
  • It is straightforward and can be used off the shelf.
  • It can assist community enterprises in identifying steps to increase revenue gained from enterprise activities, and thereby assist organisations with moving toward increased financial sustainability.
  • Fit for Purpose may be useful in identifying continuous professional development areas for employees, and encouraging board level input throughout.

Potential limitations

  • The tool is not intended to measure the outcomes or impact of community enterprises.
  • Fit for Purpose is an internally facing tool, and is therefore not intended to increase accountability to external stakeholders.

Who can use Fit for Purpose?

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.

What resources are needed?

Leadership

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.

Staff time

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).

Development, ownership and support

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

Third sector examples

  • Riverside Family Learning Centre
  • Amble Trust
  • The Seedley and Langworthy Trust

 

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