The application of STEP analysis within the HSCNI has a great deal of relevance for today’s NHS sector. This from of analysis is aimed at identifying the external environment in which the organisation operates in. It is beneficial as it helps define and rationalise important external issues for the organisation. This is crucial as the very nature of the organisation, is one which is under intense and continual scrutiny. There is a great deal of accountability and transparency required within this organisation, and STEP analysis is an excellent starting point to provide for this.
Benefits of STEP analysis include:
* It provides an understanding of the wider business environment, and helps keep management focused on the relevant issues * It encourages the development of strategic thinking, seeking to address externalities. * It May raise awareness of threats to a particular project, most importantly that of public opinion. * it allows the organisation to prioritise and monitor those factors which greatly influence the sector as a whole.
This tool is used to discipline the identification and anticipation of the external social, Technological, economic and political factors affecting the organisation. In recent years typical strategies within the NHS anticipate what the organisation is trying to accomplish over periods from a year to five years ahead. Before an organisation can achieve its strategic goals, it must first understand its current place within the competitive environment. It can then define a strategy to achieve the desired target position.
In terms of STEP analysis, there are a number of areas where it is particularly relevant, and it provides a great deal of insight into identifying the challenges faced by the health service.
The very nature of the services being provided, are those which are aimed at combating health inequalities in communities, and improving equity amongst all users, therefore external factors are at the forefront of decision making and strategy developments.
The organisation must continually seek to understand the environment it operates within, in order to ensure a rational approach to strategy can be undertaken.
Drawbacks of STEP analysis.
There are a number of limitations which must be noted, when applying STEP analysis. * To be effective this process needs to be undertaken on a regular basis,. * The best reviews require different people being involved each having a different perspective. * it is possible that when undertaking a step analysis, group think may occur, and so it is important to use impartial analysts, especially in public sector decision making. * The pace of change makes it increasingly difficult to anticipate developments that may affect an organisation such as this in the future.
The NHS constantly responds to threats to the organisation which are unplanned, such as Hospital infections, outbreaks of virus or seasonal fluctuations in demand for services. Whilst contingency plans may be in place, it may be argued that externalities can never fully be anticipated or identified.
There is also a risk that capturing too much data through STEP analysis may make it difficult for strategic managers to see the wood for the trees and lead to so called ‘paralysis by analysis’. STEP analysis only covers the external environment, as thus it should be considered in conjunction with other factors such as the internal organisation, as well as giving consideration to all stakeholders.
An analysis of the Key Challenges facing the Health and social care board in Northern Ireland (HSCNI)
This report considers the main strategic external issues facing management within the HSCNI, and the key challenges they must respond to, in order to continue to provide safe and effective services outlined by their mission...