It may seem like the most important part of policy development is getting the relevant governing bodies to adopt a policy. Whilst this is important, adoption is only the first stage.
Implementation is the process of carrying out or executing a specific plan. It is the real sign that a policy is acknowledged and making things happen.
Whilst good policy should be mindful of objectives, desired results and actors to lead it, typically, policy does not always outline these elements, instead providing a broader hypothesis which points towards general support for a strategy. Strategy outlines the plan of action and implementation is the process of carrying out this plan, bridging the gap between policy and action.
3 step guide to policy implementation
- Develop a national strategy
- Align departmental strategies with national priorities
- Use implementation or outcome agreements
Further information: Attached handout
Effective policy implementation is very similar to other implementation designs:
- Identify purpose, objectives, results, and activities
- Consider relevant actors and their interests
- Identify resource, enablers/barriers, and timeframes
- Consider dependency relationships and logical sequencing
- Articulate in a project management framework, e.g. logic model
- Action as scoped
- Evaluate against success on an ongoing basis
Source: MDF tool - Logical framework
When implementing a policy, it is important to cross-reference back to the key components of good policy (2.6 and the Policy Coherence Toolkit) as these attributes should permeate across your implementation and evaluation approaches. Alignment within your approach is as important as alignment with external strategies - inconsistency may result in you not collecting the data you require to measure if implementation, and thus your policy, has been successful.
What is the difference between a strategy and an implementation strategy?
Share your thoughts as a comment post and discuss your ideas.