We deliver communication and business management solutions through strategic advice and planning, issues management, creative communication campaigns, community consultation and executive training programs.


Archive for September 2017

Practical Performance Management

Performance management – measuring success by tracking progress and reporting outcomes – makes sense for most organizations. In local government, it is becoming more of an imperative as communities demand increased accountability for spending, elected officials want a means to show they are delivering on promises, and other levels of government look for data and other tangible reports for grant applications. At the same time, like always, resources are limited and there need to be practical, realistic options in place to make it a reality.

When I was working with the City of Coquitlam (many years ago), we first started pushing for more measurement of our goals as part of our financial reporting in the City’s Annual Report. The Government Finance Officers Association of British Columbia (GFOA) included measurement on its checklist of requirements for excellence in annual reporting. We wanted to improve our Annual Report (and win their award!), and we began integrating questions in our annual public survey to track and report on our progress in some of our goal areas. (I’m happy to report we won the GFOA award and others.) Our next foray into performance measurement was less successful. We had developed a Corporate Strategic Plan and a Corporate Business Plan, and our goal was to apply a balanced scorecard approach to track and report on our progress. We had a very challenging time identifying viable – and sustainable – indicators that could be used to measure our goals and an even more challenging time implementing the measurement tactics.

As I worked on some articles for Exchange, I developed a better understanding of why we hit a wall and stumbled at the measurement stage. We were trying to apply tangible measurement to intangible goals. As well, while the management team was engaged throughout the process, from Strategic Plan to Business Plan to measurement planning, it wasn’t clear how this would benefit them in their work or bring value to the organization. In The Art of Performance Management, our missteps became clear. But at the same time, we were early through the gate in terms of local governments applying measurement to their Strategic Plan.

Today, about 15 years after this early work in Coquitlam, it’s evident that local governments across the province are implementing performance management programs tailored to the needs of their Board/Council and aligned with the operational requirements in their organization. When writing Practical Measurement. Tangible Benefits, it was interesting to hear from three different communities to learn about the approach they have applied, ranging from technical solutions to tactics integrated into existing processes. As always, we hope that the case studies shared through Exchange generate ideas for how local governments can create similar programs in their communities.

Ideally, we will continue to see performance management programs implemented in local governments across the province to improve the way we track progress, expand the ability of organizations to support sustainable services and communicate success stories to our communities and other key stakeholders.