Key terms and definitions

Term Definition
Activity The actions you take to respond to an identified social issue. Activities might include delivery of one or more programs or services or funding others to deliver programs or services.
Business continuity plan

Plan to continue operations if a place of business is affected by different levels of disaster such as: 

  • localised short term disasters
  • multiple day-long, building-wide problems 
  • permanent loss of a building.
Cohort Group of people or things with a shared characteristic.
Community participation

Process that enables the community to contribute to debate and decision-making about an activity, including:

  • planning, implementing, managing and evaluating services
  • identifying issues and ways of addressing them.
Continuous improvement Leadership and management method that continually assesses and improves quality.
Culture Range of behaviours, ethics and values that are practised and reinforced by a person, group or organisation.
Cultural awareness Understanding of the customer’s cultural values, beliefs and needs, including gender, age, race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, disability and lifestyle.

Person or organisation receiving products or services from, or dealing directly with, a supplier, voluntarily or involuntarily, including:

  • Consumers, users, guests, patients, purchasers, members and stakeholders (both internal and external)
  • Those who must take part by law.
Data Information that has been gathered about indicators that, when analysed, shows whether progress is being made on a certain condition or circumstance.
Effectiveness Ability of a process, product or service to meet the needs of a customer.
Efficiency Degree to which the resources needed to achieve an output are used.
Emergency Plan Plan for dealing with and mitigating the risk of a range of emergencies, such as bomb threats, natural disasters, electricity failure and aggression.

Creation of services that recognise and value difference among customers:

  • giving all potential customers access
  • allowing quality participation
  • delivering successful outcomes for disadvantaged groups.
Evaluation Process of judging the effectiveness of a program or service, usually against set goals, objectives and strategies.
Evidence Information (including analysed data) that helps to prove a fact and inform decision-making.
Goals Desirable end points or achievements used to guide planning, allocate resources, and monitor and evaluate the impact of services.
Governance structure Structure with ultimate accountability for the service, such as a board, a management committee or the executive level of a government agency.
Impact The longer term social, economic, cultural and/or environmental outcomes (effects or consequences) of an intervention.
Indicators Measurable markers that show whether progress is being made on a certain condition or circumstance. Different indicators are needed to determine how much progress has been made toward a particular output, outcome or impact.
Information Data processed in a way to give it meaning through analysis or interpretation and presentation.
Innovation Development and application of a new product, service or process that adds value and creates opportunities – vital for economic growth and addressing social challenges.
Inputs Resources that are used by an intervention. Examples are money, staff, time, facilities, equipment, etc.
Knowledge State created when relationships shown by information have been tested and refined through experience.
Knowledge management Process of planning, organising, analysing and controlling data and information, including both digital and paper-based systems.
Leadership Governing body or management of the organisation that significantly influences a service’s performance and culture, and positions the organisation to excel.
Logic model A visual representation of the logic of how an intervention will work to effect change. The model identifies the intended causal links between activities, short-term outcomes, medium-term outcomes and long-term outcomes. Outcomes may be positive, negative or neutral; intended or unintended. There is no one way to represent a logic model – the test is whether it is a logical representation of the intervention’s causal links. This is also referred to as: program logic, program theory, theory of change, causal model, outcomes hierarchy, results chain, and intervention logic.
Outcome Result or consequence of a product or service based on its quality, as measured in benefits to customers or stakeholders

The changes that occur for individuals, groups, families, organisations, systems, or communities during or after an intervention. Changes can include attitudes, values, behaviours or conditions. Changes can be short term, intermediate or long term:

  • Short term outcomes – the most direct result of an intervention, typically not ends in themselves, but necessary steps toward desired ends (intermediate or long term outcomes).
  • Intermediate outcomes – link an intervention’s short term outcomes to long term outcomes; they necessarily precede other outcomes.
  • Long term outcomes (sometimes called ultimate outcomes or impact) – result from achieving short term and intermediate outcomes, often beyond the timeframe of an intervention.
Outcomes-focused approach The broad process of developing a theory of how change happens because of activities and gathering data to prove or disprove the theory of change and learn what works to inform better decision making. This is also referred to as: outcomes management or managing to outcomes.
Outcomes-focused performance management An approach to performance management that emphasises the use of outcomes data to inform strategic planning and decision making.
Outcomes measurement The process of measuring if, and how much, activities lead to certain outcomes.
Outputs The direct and measurable products of an intervention’s activities and services, often expressed in terms of volume or units delivered.
Risk management Identification, analysis and reduction of possible risks or adverse events to the organisation and its staff, visitors and customers, including strategies and programs to control or finance related losses.
Services Duties, work or activities performed for the organisation by its staff.
Staff Member or other person authorised to support the organisation in its operations, including paid staff, volunteers, peer assistants and carers.
Stakeholder Person, group, community or organisation with a legitimate interest, such as target groups, other service providers or funding bodies.
Values Understandings and expectations of how staff should behave, on which all business relationships are based, such as trust, support and truth.
Vision Description or image of how the organisation wishes to be in the future.