This guide explains how to plan for and undertake the external assessment. The main topics covered are:
An external assessment for ASES by an independent, third party determines whether your organisation’s self-assessment is corroborated by its policies, procedures, systems, staff, clients, Board and other key stakeholders.
The process for external assessment is outlined below.
The handout titled External Assessment – Steps Summary, which is provided as part of this How to guide, contains a summarised version of these steps.
Selecting an External Assessor should be approached like any other purchasing decision for your organisation. It should be based on factual market research, clear selection criteria and value for money.
It is also important that you select a provider that you feel comfortable with, who is ‘a good fit’ with your organisation’s values and culture, as you will be working closely with them, possibly for many years.
The ASES Team in the SA DHS recommends organisations contact all of the approved External Assessors in the process of making their final selection. This Department has produced a guide on How to Choose an External Assessor, which you can access here. The handout titled Tips for Selecting an External Assessor, which is provided as part of this module may also be helpful with this task.
It is a good idea to start the selection process well before the dates you would like to have your site visit as some providers can be booked out weeks or months in advance.
External Assessors are private, independent companies that are authorised by the SA DHS to conduct ASES assessments.
External Assessors undertake all aspects of the external assessment, which includes a desktop review, site visit and overseeing the development and implementation of the Quality Action Plan.
Current members of the Panel of Approved External Assessors are listed at the SA DHS website:
ASES is a quality assurance system provided across Australia and New Zealand. If the External Assessor company is based interstate and does not have Assessors in your area, it will probably charge travel and accommodation costs, which you should consider in your cost and value evaluations.
External Assessors are contractually required to:
External Assessors cannot ask for full payment prior to the external assessment. A portion can be paid prior to the site visit as part of a payment plan or to lock in an External Assessor.
To ensure an unbiased assessment of your organisation, the External Assessor you select must be entirely independent of your service. A conflict of interest can exist between your organisation and the External Assessor organisation, or between your organisation and the individual contracted to be the Assessor. Both your organisation and the External Assessor must identify, declare and avoid any potential conflicts of interest, some of which are described below.
The company undertaking your external assessment must not have provided services (such as training, strategic planning and policy development) to your organisation in the past – otherwise, it would be assessing its own work.
The same principle applies going forward. For example, your organisation cannot engage the same External Assessor company to develop the documentation required to address the gaps indicated in your QAP.
Many contracted Assessors also operate their own, separate consultancies. Even though these consultancies are separate to the External Assessor company, you cannot engage the same person to work on the gaps in your QAP.
Other examples of a conflict of interest include where an External Assessor, allocated to your service:
If these or similar circumstances arise speak to the External Assessor about how you might avoid the conflict of interest. If this is not possible it is best not to proceed and to seek another provider from the ASES Approved Assessor Panel.
Resource: Tips for Selecting an External Assessor
Resource: The handout titled Selecting an External Assessor Checklist
 Based on the South Australia. Dept. for Communities and Social Inclusion (now the Department of Human Services), Australian Service Excellence Standards: A road map to an excellent organisation, Third Edition, version 7, 2019.