5 Steps To Making Modern Government Performance Management a Reality

December 17, 2018 – OpenGov


What is modern performance management and how can governments get started implementing it in their agencies and organizations?

Modern performance management includes the core elements of previous performance management movements, but it’s now more dynamic due to increasing complexity and the digital era. It emphasizes “improving results through evidence-based decision-making,” as the GFOA says, expanding with: “To practice performance management, officials and managers must have accurate, timely, and relevant information for decision-making, along with the skills and knowledge to analyze results and design improvements when needed.”

What does that mean in practical terms? Governments must integrate information management systems that can deliver information on demand throughout the organization, as well as use effective tools built precisely for planning and decision-making in the public sector. Cloud-based tools synthesize much of the need for on-demand information, transparency, and reporting and enabling governments to implement performance management that uses reliable, real-time data to inform decision-making.

Getting started in modern performance management is a process. We’ve outlined a five-step model that can help government administrators discern their organization’s current capacity for undertaking performance management and prepare for a successful journey.

A Modern Performance Maturity Model for Government Performance Management

Stage 1: Stabilization
At this early stage, organizations and agencies focus on stabilizing their data structures and systems. They inventory their data and understand the data the organization produces—where it is housed, and how it is structured. Through this process, data becomes increasingly structured, but still remains trapped and siloed in disparate systems. In other words, it’s not very useful yet. For example, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania found that their cumbersome data infrastructure placed a huge burden on overworked IT staff who needed to support information requests from many departments and the public. Users found their financial system too complex to use and reporting delays created knowledge deficits, which delayed decisions and degraded their quality. Recognizing that structuring data was the first step to modern performance management, Allegheny County turned to OpenGov to help them make sense of their data.

Stage 2: Measurement
Here data becomes more useful. Organizations begin measuring performance based on a more mature data infrastructure and accessible data. Measurement is focused on transforming raw data into useful information. The focus shifts to tracking trends. Dashboards and visualized data are put into play. Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania realized they needed to move from static, paper reports to interactive reports that could be accessed online. They worked with OpenGov performance management software to improve transparency and communicate more effectively in presentations with easy-to-understand visualizations.

Stage 3: Analysis
This stage is essential in order for government agencies to generate value from performance measurement. Now that department heads and program managers have access to performance measures, the organization can focus on developing an understanding of what the data means among administrators. As a result, data will now produce insights that lead to better decisions. The goal is to understand how spending relates to operational performance and how performance relates to strategic outcomes. In Lake Tahoe, Nevada, the Incline Village General Improvement District oversees golf courses, ski resorts, beaches, and recreational venues, including water, sewer, trash and services for residents and tourists. When they were moving through the model, they worked with OpenGov to analyze 25 years’ worth of data, and use the insights to forecast amid uncertainty, create more flexible internal reporting, and save staff time.

Stage 4: Planning
In this stage, more mature government performance management programs use their performance measures and analyses to inform budget decisions. They conduct long-term financial planning and strategic budgeting based on their priorities rather than historical funding levels. Ivins, Utah used OpenGov budgeting and performance management tools to help them focus on their long-term strategic budgeting priorities. As a result of this initiative, they saved time (cutting the Finance Director’s time to prepare the budget in half), identified valuable resources, and made their budgeting process more collaborative as they prepared for future growth.

Stage 5: Performance Measurement
At the most mature level, the organization has embraced performance management as an organizational priority. They have well-established technical requirements for measuring, analyzing, incorporating, and responding to performance. They focus on continual improvement and quality outcomes. One example, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, recently won an ICMA Performance Management Award for their mature performance measurement practices. Using OpenGov, they implemented 300 performance measures for 35 departments, reduced data prep time from four hours to five minutes, saved 128 hours of business analyst time per year and transitioned to cloud-based performance measurement in nine months.

Making modern government performance management a reality requires an understanding of where organizations are in their maturity level and then mapping a journey forward. The OpenGov Cloud gives governments the power they need to move through each stage while leveraging the maximum value from their data.

To learn more about specific action items you can take at each stage of the maturity model, download the eBook, Making Government Performance Management a Reality.