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Evidence Guide for Business Services Workbook

Chapters

How do you use evidence?

At the start of this Guide, there was a discussion about why business services need evidence. Evidence is 'proof'. It's the basis on which decisions are made and business services, like any business, make decisions all the time.

If decisions are to be effective and informed, there are four important steps.

Be clear about what you need the evidence for

As discussed previously, this is the first and crucial step. Why do you need the evidence? Is it to make a decision about a client's training needs, or to monitor supplier prices, or make decisions about assessment items in a DMI?

Collect quality evidence

If you're going to make a good decision or a strong claim, you need it to be based on 'good' evidence. In other words, evidence that's:

Another important consideration is using evidence from a number of different sources. If you think of this in a legal context, a lawyer would never use only one witness in a courtroom trial. One witness alone may be open to the question of reliability. But a number of witnesses build a stronger story.

The same goes for using evidence to make decisions. Having more than one source of evidence to look at makes for a more informed decision. Consider the following example.

Example:

You're putting together a client's DMI, and you need to give a rating for the following assessment item in the Social and Behavioural Assistance domain.

Over the last three months, what level of assistance has this service provided to enable the worker to:

To make an informed decision, you could check a number of sources of evidence, including:

Look at the evidence – what is it telling you?

When you have all of the evidence together, you need to look at it objectively, and determine what it is telling you. In other words, you determine the facts.

Being objective is important. This means you don't bring any bias or preconceptions with you when you look at the evidence. It's not about what you think you know, or what you think should happen – it's about determining the facts.

One of the advantages of using evidence from a number of different sources is that the likelihood of bias is reduced. Evidence from a number of sources also enables you to confirm or question facts. If all sources are telling you the same thing, you have solid evidence on which to base your decisions or claims. If there are inconsistencies or questions about the facts, you need to look at the evidence again, or seek out more evidence.

When you are looking at evidence, it's worthwhile discussing it with other colleagues (as appropriate). As mentioned above, it's important to collect evidence from a variety of sources to strengthen reliability. So, it makes sense that the interpretation of evidence should also be collectively agreed upon.

Make the decision

The final step is to make a decision, preferably collectively, based on the facts presented by the evidence. Consider the following example.

Example:

Disability Services Standard 11 is 'Staff recruitment, employment and training'. KPI 11.1 is:

If your evidence tells you that your organisation does this as per the Evidence Guidelines in the Quality Assurance Handbook for Disability Employment Services – Version 2, you are complying with the standards. However, if the evidence says you are not complying, your organisation needs to decide on changes that will ensure compliance. It may be that staff job descriptions need reviewing to include clear statements about the skills and competencies required for each position, or staff may need some training on the skills required for the positions.

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