skip to primary navigation skip to content

SSA Toolkit

Refine goals


Refine goals

Refine goals

Keeping the goals of the SSA in mind, and reviewing them periodically

This section looks at keeping the goals of the SSA in mind throughout the SSA process, and refining them as required. The former is important to ensure that the assessment is appropriately focussed and kept on track. The latter is important to make sure that the goals accurately reflect the current situation and concerns.

It is important to keep the goals of the SSA in mind throughout the assessment process, as it can be easy to be distracted and waste time on issues that are outside the scope of the SSA. In fact, this is a common problem. As such, it can be helpful to remind oneself of the goals periodically to ensure that the assessment is appropriately focused and on-track. For example, during a long SSA meeting, it may be helpful to glance over the goals every hour or so, to ensure the meeting is effective.

The goals often remain fixed throughout the SSA, but changing circumstances sometimes mean that they need to be refined. It is therefore important to examine periodically whether the goals are still valid, to adapt them if necessary, and to communicate these changes to the SSA team.

Reasons for refining the goals may be ‘internal’ or ‘external’ to the SSA. For example, as the SSA progresses, new information may be uncovered through the discussions that take place or through the Monitor system activity. This may influence the goals or, more frequently, the scope of the assessment. Such modifications in response to ‘internal’ reasons can be a sign of a healthy SSA. The SSA process is intended to be iterative to reflect this possibility.

Refine goals is an activity in the Manage phase of SSA

Refine goals is an activity in the Manage phase of SSA

As another example, if the analysis is progressing more slowly than expected and time is running out, then the scope may be tightened or, if goals cannot be adjusted, another meeting might be arranged to conclude the assessment.

Changes due to ‘external’ reasons may arise if a new direction for the SSA is set, for example, due to a recent major incident or the introduction of a new target. This is more likely to occur if the SSA takes place over a longer period of time, for example, when it is split into several short lunch-time sessions over a period of several weeks.

It can be helpful to keep a record of any changes to the goals on the ‘Outline goals’ page of the SSA Assessment Form (see also the Outline goals activity). This is particularly helpful for others who might review the SSA at a later date. Changes to the goals may also impact on the outputs of earlier activities in the SSA, so these may need to be reviewed to ensure that they are still valid.

Putting ‘Refine goals’ into practice

If there are any changes to the goals of the SSA, then:

  1. Select the ‘Outline goals’ page in the SSA Assessment Form.
  2. Update the box headed Goals of the assessment. Include notes explaining why and how the goals have changed.
  3. Review other pages of the Assessment Form that have already been completed. Check whether they are still accurate and relevant in light of the new goals, and update them if necessary.
Screenshot of Outline goals page of the assessment form

Case Study

The completed ‘Outline goals’ page from the Section 136 case study is shown opposite. Further explanation of this stage in the case study can be found on the Section 136 page on Refine goals.