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Tips for Civil Services examinations Civil Services examination This depends very much on what’s being selected and also on your organisation. The number of people to be involved can be quite a balancing act. Too few and it is hard to demonstrate fairness in the choice (plus there is great value in having enough people to review documents, check for assumptions, and so on). Too many and the team becomes unwieldy; matching diaries for meetings can be almost impossible, causing lengthy delays. The optimal number for a selection team is around four to six people. This gives you enough people to give a fair assessment of options, without having so many that the whole process becomes cumbersome. Bear in mind that you will have to arrange meetings with the whole selection team and this could include pitch meetings, visits to reference sites, and so on, which can be very time-consuming. But you may need a smaller or larger team. For example, a small organisation doing a straightforward selection could have a team of two or three people. Whereas a medium size organisation selecting a business critical system may need a selection team on the large side, perhaps up to eight people. So, how do you decide? There are a number of elements to consider: 

Key stakeholders: Who will be using the system/civil service? Who will be managing it? Who will be affected by it? Are there different stakeholder groups that need to be represented? Level of change to the business: If the new system or service is going to cause a major change to a business process or to the way your business operates (i.e. its culture), you should normally involve more people in the selection, in order to increase the buy-in to the final solution. Business criticality: How critical will the new system or service be to your business? For example, a finance system is likely to be fairly critical, whereas a new supplier for stationery may be less so. Likely costs: For a system – how much is it likely to cost to buy, how much to implement it and roll it out, and how much to support it annually? For a service – what are the likely fees and is it for a one-off civil services examination or an ongoing one? If the latter, how long do you expect the initial contract to be? The higher the cost, the greater the level of governance – and likely, the number of people involved in the selection.

If these considerations mean that you really want to involve a lot more people, then one possible way to manage this is to have a core team that do the main selection activities, with each of these directly representing a number of other stakeholders. Each core team member will need to get input from, and report back to, those people they are representing. The above considerations will also affect the formality of the documentation produced during the selection process. If there are many people interested in the selection, it’s useful to document the proceedings more formally, so that everyone can read the reports and have a chance to feed back any comments. You may also need to advise other stakeholders that the selection is going on, and keep them informed through the process. One example is your legal advisor (if you have one), as they will become involved once you get to the contract stage, and this is much easier if they’ve been kept informed of overall progress as you go.

Tips for civil services examinations