Performance Management in Local Government: 3 Frameworks That Work

Delve into 3 performance management frameworks for local government. This article provides insights into effective strategies that enhance efficiency.
Performance Management in Local Government: 3 Frameworks That Work
Delve into 3 performance management frameworks for local government. This article provides insights into effective strategies that enhance efficiency.

In years past, performance management was a concept mainly associated with for-profit companies. But that’s now changing, as more local governments recognize the importance of measuring and improving their performance (so they can deliver better services to residents) and being transparent about their activities (so they can build trust). As such, more governments are adopting some of the same performance management frameworks used by corporations to help them create clearly defined goals, and make sure they’re doing the right activities to achieve them.

While there are numerous performance management frameworks to choose from, some are more easily adaptable to local governments, which tend to have different priorities than corporations. Below are three of the most popular performance management frameworks in local government. All take a different approach to measuring performance and vary in the benefits they deliver. Take a look at the characteristics of each below—and how other municipalities have used them successfully—to see which one might be right for you.

3 Performance Management Frameworks Local Governments Are Using Effectively

1. The Balanced Scorecard

In our view, the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is one of the best performance management frameworks available, whether you’re a for-profit organization or a local government. The BSC reinforces big-picture strategic planning because it encourages goal-setting in multiple areas—not just finances but also resident relations (called the “customer perspective” for for-profit companies), internal processes and procedures, and innovation/learning—and aligns all your government’s activities to those goals. The result is an orderly, clear view of what you’re trying to achieve, and a path to help you get there.

Olathe, Kansas: A Balanced Scorecard Success Story

Government administrators in Olathe, Kansas, adopted the BSC in 2000, after a review of the city government’s service levels and accomplishments revealed that it a) didn’t have clear priorities, and b) didn’t have any data to support why it was doing the things it was doing.

To make the Balanced Scorecard work for them, Olathe administrators tweaked the four perspectives noted above to fit the city’s own values: Satisfied Customers, Financially Strong, Effective Organization, and Engaged Workforce. Administrators review their key performance indicators (KPIs) on a monthly basis to ensure they are trending in the right direction, and also on an annual basis to see if they’ve hit their targets.

The biggest benefit they’ve seen from using the Balanced Scorecard is that it’s helped them build trust with residents. (Read more about Olathe’s BSC process here.)

2. The Baldrige Excellence Framework

Created in 1987, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is “the highest level of national recognition for performance excellence that a U.S. organization can receive.” To engage in the rigorous and competitive application process, you must implement the Baldrige framework, which is designed to help you identify and leverage your strengths and prepare to face your challenges in seven critical areas:

  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Customers
  • Measurement, analysis, and knowledge management
  • Workforce
  • Operations
  • Results

Fort Collins, Colorado: A Baldrige Award-Winning City

The government of Fort Collins was already performing well before implementing the Baldrige Framework, but leaders realized they were lacking a systematic process in how they achieved success. They hoped to find a way to consistently align their efforts and set priorities across all departments.

The implementation process took several years, but in 2017, the City of Fort Collins was named a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. According to city officials, using Baldrige drilled home the importance of a systematic approach to strategy and performance management. Now they have a true strategic plan in place that helps them decide where to invest resources for the biggest impact, and a performance measurement process that helps them stay on track for reaching goals. Fort Collins’ dashboard, shown below, lists seven community “outcomes” that define the overall health of the city; metrics within each category are re-evaluated every year.

3. High-performance Work Systems

Another performance management framework used in local government, high-performance work systems emphasize employee involvement, skill enhancement, and motivation as a way of achieving operational effectiveness. As part of defining organizational objectives and monitoring performance, leaders aligned all processes to business goals to ensure everyone is working toward the same objectives. In general, high-performance work systems are focused on solving specific operational problems.

Arvada, Colorado: Solving Problems With Work Systems

With an eye toward the future, Arvada city leaders were looking for a way to improve performance to better meet the expectations of a burgeoning population. Before implementing this framework, all city departments were tracking performance data separately, and there was no collaboration or visibility between them.

City leaders identified five areas they needed to work on the most based on resident survey data (shown on the dashboard below), and restructured each corresponding department’s measures and projects to align with the city’s larger strategic plan. City employees in all departments were given access to ClearPoint so they could manage their own performance measures—a tactic that encouraged buy-in among employees. Also, teams were created to manage the measures and projects that spanned across departments to increase transparency and collaboration.

With better visibility into what other departments were working on—and their own performance measures—Arvada government employees took their performance management to the next level.

Create and sustain improved performance.

Performance management is an ongoing process, but it can be a challenge to track, manage, and share the data associated with strategy execution over the long-term. Whatever performance management framework your local government chooses, you’ll need software to support your efforts. Numerous municipalities have used ClearPoint to achieve their strategic goals (including three Baldrige award winners!), and provide the transparency their residents expect. Take a look at the stories of other cities that have used our software successfully, and get in touch if you have any questions!

Performance Management in Local Government: 3 Frameworks That Work

Tricia Jessee

Manager of Implementation & Services & Pizza Aficionado

Tricia manages our implementation and onboarding team to ensure the success of ClearPoint customers.

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