Beth Ward

Every company wants to demonstrate its value. A performance management system allows you to effectively show how your organization is meeting its goals and accomplishing its mission. But establishing such a system can be challenging. Where do you start? How do you implement a meaningful and effective system?

One of our government clients came to us with such a problem. They needed to establish a transparent, repeatable process for effectively tracking performance and conveying the impact of their activities to outside entities. Working with their staff and leadership, we identified and cataloged their core activities; defined how the activities address the agency’s mission and ultimate goal; and selected a combination of metrics that would highlight the success and impact of each activity. Based on these findings, we developed a measurement-driven portfolio management system, complete with a data collection tool and submission process.

Once the system was up and running, we realized that creating the performance management system was just the first step. This was a major change for the organization, which previously responded to performance requests on a one-off basis and focused on providing effort-driven information about the amount of work being performed, not the impact of the activities.

Using the following change management techniques outlined in a previous Nexight blog post, we worked with staff and leadership within the organization to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the new system:

  • Create a shared goal: The previous system for responding to information requests was inefficient and frustrating for all involved—staff who had to drop everything to track down requested information and leadership who received inconsistent data. Having a central place for all data would make it easier to respond to requests with consistent, accurate, and impactful information. Using actual organization data, we demonstrated how the system and the combination of effort-driven and impact-based metrics would help the organization communicate its value, justify its budget, and ensure scarce resources are directed to impactful programs.
  • Collaborate on a solution with everyone impacted: Based on insights and feedback from staff and leadership, we selected the most effective and feasible measures for activities, modified the tool and process to make it more user-friendly, and incorporated some of their existing data collection methods. As a result, the final tool addresses the needs of both the people responsible for data collection and leadership.
  • Communicate the proposed solution and benefits: Throughout the process, we held briefings to explain the new system to leadership, staff responsible for data collection, and others throughout the organization. We worked with leadership to communicate the system’s benefits using specific examples of tasks that would become easier with its implementation. We also held training sessions to demonstrate how to use the data collection tool.
  • Celebrate minor successes along the way: After the system was up and running, we continued to meet regularly with staff and leadership to answer questions, get feedback, and discuss challenges. These meetings were also an opportunity to acknowledge successes. Leadership praised some of the first implementers of the process, and after a few months of use provided examples of how the data collected was being used.

By employing change management techniques and working closely with all impacted parties, we are helping to establish a successful, sustainable system. So far, the organization has used the system for three fiscal quarters and it is now viewed as a model for other organizations throughout the agency.