Delivery Chain

… a core concept used in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107

Concept description

The Ontario Cabinet Office (reference below) defines delivery chain as “a wide network of organizations that work together to achieve or deliver on a commitment.”

It goes on to say that:

“Put simply, a delivery chain identifies everyone that would be engaged to help deliver an intended outcome. For example, if an intended outcome of an initiative is to reduce childhood obesity, then a delivery chain would align and identify all those who would be involved in making this happen. This could include those at the municipal level (school boards, health units, physicians) to the provincial level (ministries of health, education, social services etc.) to the community and citizen levels and how they are engaged. The chain could also consider the engagement of groups or actors that may not belong to a formal organization – i.e., parents, medical professionals, community figures and others who play a role in a child’s life. The delivery chain is more than a stakeholders list and would not only have stronger lines of communication and accountability; it would also have a meaningful link to the end recipient, in this case children.

“A delivery chain identifies all of the links through which a policy impacts. A delivery chain should map out the path from the policy intent to the behaviours and practices that the policy is designed to influence and show how – and through whom – those behaviours and practices are impacted.

“The development of a delivery chain requires a thorough consideration of all the key partners involved in delivery. Once you’ve developed your delivery chain, an assessment of the strength of each “link” or partner in the chain will help to identify areas that may require improvement or mitigating action in order to support successful delivery. You can use the information to align the strategies in your policy work to work with the influence and relationships existing with the key players. Further, the delivery chain acts as a diagnostic tool to assess risks or identify design challenges and develop mitigation strategies for working with all of the key players.”

Developing a deliver chain

The Ontario Cabinet Office writes:

“To develop a delivery chain, it is necessary to first have an understanding of who is involved in the delivery of the initiative. In considering this, do not be limited to direct management relationships, but think about everyone that has a role in exerting influence over the achievement of the initiative right down to the individual receiving the service or program. Once key players have been identified, the construction of the chain – which is often depicted as a flow chart – should reflect the nature of the relationship between each part of the chain.

“Delivery chains have four types of relationships:

  1. Internal – where one part of the chain directly manages another (e.g. head office and regional office)
  2. Contractual or Regulatory – where one part of the chain defines through law or funding how another does its business (e.g. provincial government relationship to municipalities)
  3. Common Purpose – bodies with parallel missions/responsibility to work towards a common goal (e.g. OPS ministries that share responsibility for a specific goal)
  4. Wider Community – no formal authority; relies on persuasion to influence behaviour that will help in achieving targets (e.g. advertising campaigns encouraging the general public to quit smoking or incentive programs)

“Here are some tips for developing your delivery chain:

  • Identify all of the key partners with a role in delivering the initiative (remember to consider how the wider community may have an impact on the outcome)
  • Consider the type of relationship to one another (as outlined above) and their ability to influence the outcome
  • Indicate where there are specific relationship requirements (i.e. flows of funding, information or service delivery) to illustrate key accountabilities at each link
  • Think about who is accountable at the top and at each part of the delivery chain
  • Include only the entities and relationships that exist today, not what could or should exist”
Atlas topic, subject, and course

Designing the Delivery Model (core topic) in Implementation and Delivery and Atlas107


Ontario Cabinet Office (2011), Delivery Chain, uploaded to Atlas at, 25 September 2017.

UK National Audit Office (2006), Delivering Efficiently – Strengthening the links in public service delivery chains, at, accessed 25 September 2017.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 25 September 2017.

Image: From Delivering Efficiently: Strengthening the Links in Public Service Delivery

Chains, National Audit Office and the Audit Commission, United Kingdom, March 2006, from p. 3 of Ontario Cabinet Office, Delivery Chain, uploaded to Atlas at, 25 September 2017.