City of Durham, North Carolina

The City of Durham, North Carolina is home to over 2,500 people. The data-driven city monitors hundreds of initiatives each year to manage city operations.

Shari Metcalfe, city Strategy and Performance Manager, chats with ClearPoint Strategy co-founder Ted Jackson, giving an overview of the city's performance management practices and progress tracking.

Watch the full recording here!

Durham's Three-Year Plan

The City of Durham operates on a three-year strategic planning cycle. The first nine months are spent creating a city-wide plan, and the majority of the cycle is spent within departments carrying out business and work (fiscal) plans. With countless other long-term plans needed to manage the city, these plans consider areas to prioritize in the next three years. The third year is spent evaluating performance measures and finding areas for improvement. While these evaluations are also done regularly throughout these three years, the last leg of the cycle performs a deep dive into what Metcalfe coins “measures that are missing methodology.”

The Long-Standing Relationship with ClearPoint Strategy

Durham has been partnered with ClearPoint for ten years. When Metcalfe was hired at the city, the platform was being used to manage the city-wide strategic plan and dashboard. However, managing everything else related to performance (metrics, charts, etc.) was done in Excel spreadsheets across departments. The reporting process was difficult for Metcalfe to manage, as she could not track who was doing what and when. The process was also tough for large departments, which were analyzing hundreds of performance metrics each cycle. Data was being used in several forms - displayed in budget books, presentations, and more - which made for cumbersome work for employees moving things around.

Now, in ClearPoint, everything is all in one system. Metcalfe’s strategy team of two and the Process Improvement team in the office of Performance Innovation are now able to make data-based decisions easily.

“It’s just easier. Less time putting numbers in a system and more time actually looking at the numbers and making decisions based on those.”

ClearPoint is now used to build out all departmental business plans and the city’s overall strategic plan. Methodologies are able to be defined in the same place, making things convenient for everyone. Internally, dashboards include things like setups for staff meetings, which were conducted virtually during the pandemic, and have continued this way since. Several employee “super users,” including Metcalfe, have even built their own work plans in ClearPoint, from supervisors to entire divisions. Milestones and Gantt charts have also proven helpful in managing initiative timelines, which the city plans to bring into the next strategic planning cycle. Externally, the city publishes a dashboard housing their strategic plan. ClearPoint’s public dashboards allow for meaningful and transparent interaction with communities. Currently, Durham’s showcases their Sustainability Plan, and the city is excited to re-vamp their dashboard next summer.

Metcalfe recounts the employees who were with the city before and after ClearPoint’s implementation, and how the time savings went a long way for buy-in. Where people find the most benefit is in linking metrics, initiatives, and plans within the system. Linking performance measures into budget requests aids departments in making cases to present for funding - with data used as evidence. Linking is also used in employee evaluations and business goals, and has resulted in more integrated, central processes overall.

"A big turning point for our performance management was getting a system that we could use to manage all that data."

The City of Durham also happens to be the only city inside Durham County, and the two bodies often need to share information. Costs, projects, and management responsibilities are split between city and county, and the county has its own measures and reporting schedules to follow. Durham County also uses ClearPoint, which makes things extremely easy whenever either body needs the other’s data. Not only are they able to see each other's information instantly, but ClearPoint also offers Measure Libraries for benchmarking among industries.

The long-lasting relationship between the City of Durham and ClearPoint has seen significant growth over the last ten years. In the past, only two users managed the application, now over 100 users are trained to leverage it. In addition to unveiling a new dashboard, Durham hopes to track ARPA measures in the future, and continue to scale the software’s capabilities with the city's growth.

Read more about Durham's relationship with ClearPoint here!