Creating effective organisational structures (DMA approach)

The LGA Workforce team are qualified to deliver the DMA approach working together with Stanton Marris.

What is Decision-making accountability (DMA)? 

The decision-making accountability (DMA) approach is an organisational design tool which establishes the number of layers of management that an organisation needs – and the units within it – to achieve its purposes most effectively, and the decision rights that managers in different layers require to be empowered. This can be used at a whole organisation or individual service level. 

It is a proven way of creating an effective organisation and services, and an efficient management structure. The aim of DMA is to create a healthy and effective organisation. 

Angela Hutchings, Chief Executive at Castle Point Borough Council

The LGA is a trusted critical friend, the DMA review has enabled me as a new CEX to bridge the inevitable trust gap with staff which exists when you are a newcomer. The DMA review held up a mirror to the organisation, and when the LGA played back the reflection, it helped me, staff and elected members to realise that we all want the same outcomes for the council and we could begin to close that trust gap. 

What are the benefits? 

Engaging with DMA helps organisations:

  • Save money 
  • Lead to timely decision-making 
  • Clear responsibilities and empowerment of leadership roles
  • Help employees become more productive, more agile, better at decision making, and more engaged
  • In cost terms alone the return on the initial investment will be at least x10.

This approach concentrates on how management layers add value to the front line and to each other. 

DMA can:

  •     Be used to look at a particular service area 
  •     Focus on the whole organisation
  •     Support in creating a new commercial structure
  •     Be used during local government reform 
  •     Link in with other LGA offers 

Applying the levels to the roles in your organisation helps you test, refine, improve or redesign your management structures to be cheaper and more effective.

DMA can: 

  • Be flexible and can be applied before, during or after restructuring 
  • Give you a new and lasting capability to develop your organisation 
  • Create management effectiveness
  • Be a bottom-up approach which works to ensure that front-line managers are supported to deliver the best services to the customer.
  • Sit at the heart of an integrated set of management competences, development programmes, talent and workforce management, performance management and reward.

Examples of some LGA DMA reviews in local government include Peterborough Council, Wirral Council, Castle Point BC, Staffordshire County Council, Ashfield Council, Exeter City.

Tony Williams, Assistant Director HR/OD at Wirral Council said:

The LGA undertook a very timely and helpful piece of work which greatly assisted with our thinking with the next steps for our organisational restructure. The decision-making accountability (DMA) approach identified some areas where a redesign of management layers and hierarchies can create greater efficiency in our organisation.

Next steps

The key stages of a typical DMA include: 

  •     Express interest with the LGA
  •     Initial conversation to explore options
  •     Briefing and diagnostics 
  •     Interview-based analysis 
  •     Training and toolkit 
  •     Report, feedback, and follow-up

Working together with Stanton Marris, the LGA Workforce team is qualified to deliver the DMA approach. If you are interested in applying Decision-making accountability to your council or receiving further information, please contact: [email protected][email protected] or [email protected]

Additional support

The workforce team can support beyond the completion of the DMA review. We have a wide range of offers and resources that can continue to create productive teams and implement key recommendations.

Business case

Following the DMA review you may be required to write a business case or present plans to implement the recommendations. We have experience of supporting organisations through the planning and consultation required.

Job descriptions and person specifications analysis

We can review and analyse current job profiles; produce job descriptions and person specifications for key roles within your organisation. Our workforce team can also support the planning and delivery of assessment days and also participate in interview panels. For further information on the support available please contact [email protected]

Job adverts

There is the opportunity to advertise roles on the LGA jobs board as a means of reaching a wider audience. All LGA members can post one free job advert. You can find further information on how to advertise jobs on our page here.


Following the DMA review you may need to review existing or require support in creating new policies. Speak to [email protected] to understand how we can support your organisation.

Further information on the wider support and resources available through the LGA workforce team can be found on our workforce capacity page.