The first round of participants in the SBDC’s Small Business Friendly Approvals Program have concluded an intensive process of examining and discussing their local government’s regulatory processes in a series of facilitated workshops.
The City of Rockingham, the City of Wanneroo and the City of Melville were selected to participate in phase one of the Approvals Program in February and March 2021. The authorities are now finalising their tailored implementation plans to streamline their small business approvals and ensure their organisation is customer-focused when serving their small business stakeholders.
Each city’s implementation plan identifies a series of improvements that can be made to their processes, information and way of doing things to reduce approval timeframes and make it easier for their local small businesses to start, survive and grow in their local area. The implementation plans outline the process for executing these reforms over the next one to two years.
Across these local governments, reform themes that have emerged are: better information for customers, automated/fast-tracked approvals, business concierge/liaison service and streamlined processes.
The Approvals Program has been fully funded for two years as part of a Streamline WA commitment to streamline regulatory processes to help the economy recover from COVID-19. Twenty local government authorities, selected through a competitive expression of interest process, will participate in the program in 2021 and 2022 and report to the SBDC on their progress.
Change in approach to small business stakeholders
The officers who participated in each working group were drawn from areas across each local government authority that had touchpoints with small businesses, including health, planning, building, customer service and economic development. Perception surveys conducted with working group participants shows that the program has:
- improved their knowledge of the type and distribution of small businesses in their local area
- increased their awareness of the contribution that small businesses make to the local economy
- increased their understanding of the challenges facing operators when starting, growing or pivoting a small business
Local government employee experience
Working group members commented in the perception surveys about what they took from the process:
“Working with a great team of people who were also very passionate about this project. The feeling of working hard to come up with ideas to make changes that will directly impact the customer's experience with the City.”
“The chance to collaborate across service units and gain a better understanding of each other's roles in the small business approvals process.”
“having been able to contribute to the development of ideas that if implemented will improve the experience of customers when dealing with the City.”
“The project style was unlike anything I have done before and I loved every minute of it.”
“... It really helps to break down those silos that we have within the organisation.”
“It's a great initiative and an eye opener for the challenges faced by City residents who want to open a business.”
Phase two commencement
In April and May, three more local governments will start the process of examining and improving their regulatory and customer service environment as part of the program. All authorities are selected via a competitive expression of interest process, with a mix of metropolitan and regional local governments set to take part in the revolutionary process improvement program.