Election Special - Expectations in Public Sector Performance Management
Posted October 28, 2010 5:58 PM by Jeremy Sutherland
With increasingly high stakes - politicians and leaders across the country are focusing on results. Be it unemployment numbers or budget deficit projections, effective performance management is in increasingly high demand. Thanks to incredible investments by large organizations, powerful tracking systems are now available to even the smallest groups.This doesn't mean every public sector and non-profit organization should focus on earning more revenue and managing costs – after all, public sector organizations and non-profits have different goals and answer to different constituencies than businesses. What it does mean is that many leaders of public sector organizations need access to the tools and information so they can operate more like a business – with better metrics for efficiency, accountability, and an overall sense of precision in the organization's focus and results. So why is public sector performance management gaining such momentum? Systems that work: Corporations and intelligence agencies paid a premium over the years to develop IT systems to measure and track all aspects of an organization's work – and now these same powerful systems are becoming available at reasonable prices to non-profit and governmental organizations. Higher expectations: People are impatient for data. Expectations for quality and timeliness of data delivered to decision makers have grown – people don't want to wait to learn what they need to know about your organization. Anyone who needs data about your organization – whether they're executives, lenders, donors, volunteers, partner organizations, or even public officials working on legislation related to your organization's mission who need real statistics to prove a need – wants to be able to find relevant information as quickly as possible. Risk management: It's a risky world, and your organization increasingly needs to track all sorts of data, from sentinel events in a hospital (unexpected events leading to death, serious injury or the risk thereof), the number of EEO complaints in the workplace, student test scores for No Child Left Behind, or the number of fatalities on state highways tracked by the state Department of Transportation. Better performance management can help your organization track the numbers you need to promote your mission and defend your reputation. Competition: At a time of shrinking budgets, decreasing donations and ever-scarcer resources, programs that cannot prove their effectiveness are seeing major funding cuts, while programs that can point to metrics and data to prove their effectiveness are attracting more resources. Performance management can help your organization prove that you get quantifiable results – and that you're being a good steward of your resources. Accountability: Every organization needs to maximize its effectiveness, which means that every individual employee is under greater scrutiny and has to be accountable for performance. Better performance management can help your organization develop performance plans (for individuals, teams and larger departments), specific performance targets, and a method of tracking progress on the individual level or organization-wide. You can see these trends at work in many different public sector organizations. One of the major driving forces behind the new emphasis on performance management is not only a "reactive" measure in response to public scrutiny, but also a "proactive" measure by organizations looking to promote their work and raise awareness of their positive results. For example, in Washington DC, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has posted an online Metro Scorecard showing various performance metrics for the city's public transit systems, including cost per ride (and subsidy per ride), on-time performance, and employee and customer injury rates. Many public sector leaders use performance management data as a way to prove that their organizations are doing a better job than the media tend to report. Increase Interactions with Constituents and Stakeholders: Another driving factor behind the shift to performance management is a reflection of the larger consumer culture – in the era of social media, when dealing with private sector brands, customers expect their favorite brands to be interactive, to respond to their ideas and demands, and all with a certain level of brand humor and "sex appeal" in the products they purchase. Gatorade has taken listening to the customer to a whole new level with their new Mission Control team – a group of social media operatives at Gatorade headquarters who constantly monitor and respond to feedback about Gatorade on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The goal is to have a rapid response to customers' ideas, feedback and criticism, and engage customers in conversations to improve customer loyalty and sales. What does this mean to your organization? The fact is, right now, people are talking about your organization, in public, on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. They might be praising your staff, expressing complaints, or offering useful suggestions. Many public sector organizations have a big opportunity to increase their presence on social media, engage in conversations with constituents – not only for immediate customer service needs, but also for longer-term awareness and public support of the organization's mission. This kind of heightened responsiveness to your constituents' needs is another aspect of public sector performance management that is going to continue to grow in importance. Performance management will be an enduring part of any public sector or non-profit organization's operational future. If you want to learn more about how your organization can improve its performance, develop strategic alignment, and develop metrics that pinpoint your performance, contact Ascendant Strategy Management Group for guidance.
Tweet This - http://tinyurl.com/3yjjcmd
Posted October 18, 2010 11:14 PM by Jeremy Sutherland
There are three big trends in Web marketing that non-profits should pay attention to: Online Advertising (including mobile marketing), Social Media (like Twitter and Facebook), and an updated understanding of Website Metrics. The new world of online media, social media and mobile technology is presenting significant opportunities for organizations that are ready to embrace change. If you're ready to include Web marketing in your organization's mix of methods for fundraising, outreach and communications, continue reading below.Online advertising: Be ready to "pay per click" and "go mobile". Google recently announced strong 3rd quarter earnings, indicating a 20 percent annual increase in revenues from its AdSense online advertising programs. Paid clicks on Google are up 16% - showing that people are becoming more likely to use paid links to find the information they're looking for. Another big trend in online marketing is mobile marketing – web ads and messaging designed specifically for smart phones. According to the Mobile Commerce Forum, mobile Web users are expected to spend $119 billion a year by 2015 – and this shift in buying behavior has implications for non-profit fundraising as well. As people become more comfortable searching, shopping and spending from their mobile phones and personal electronic devices, they also will become more willing to donate. Even small text message-based donations can make a huge difference – the Red Cross raised millions of dollars after the Haiti earthquake by asking people to send $5 or $10 donations via text message. These trends are real, and they are likely to continue to grow – there is an army of people using smart phones for information on the go, and they are open to interacting with (and donating to) their favorite non-profits. Are you ready to extend the invitation? Amplified "word of mouth" Millions of words have been written about how social media is changing everything in the world of online marketing. Some non-profit organizations have been a bit slow to embrace these new opportunities – either due to a lack of resources, a lack of understanding of the new technology, or by not seeing connections between the new media and the organization's existing goals and constituencies. Non-profits are constantly looking for new ways to educate, congregate, and cause some action in a group of people. Using social media like Twitter and Facebook can be a fun and effective way to achieve these objectives. Whether your organization is experienced in social media, or whether you're still learning the difference between Twitter and Facebook, here are some tips to help improve your social media footprint to engage with your stakeholders online. Twitter: By posting timely, relevant messages 140 characters at a time, your organization can mobilize a volunteer workforce. Here are some of the types of "tweets" you can send to engage with your organization's friends and fans online: •From a church's outreach office: "Father-son softball tonight at Tall Oak park, 6 p.m., All welcome!" •From a homeless shelter: "We need volunteers to serve dinner during Thanksgiving week – contact www.tinyurl.com/### by November 10 for details." •From a local public official: "Would you like to serve on the Mayor's public recreation advisory board? Short-term commitment, big opportunity to make a difference." You can adjust your Twitter settings (or use more advanced Twitter platforms like "TweetDeck") to automatically post your Twitter messages to your Facebook page as well – saving time and effort. Facebook: The world's most popular social networking site has over 500 million users worldwide (and counting). Does your organization have a fan page on Facebook yet? Facebook, like Twitter, can be a valuable resource to cultivate donors and recruit volunteers, post announcements, build excitement for upcoming events, and share the mission and expertise of your organization. One difference between Facebook and Twitter is that Facebook is not limited to 140 characters per post – so you can be more expansive. It's also a bit easier to upload videos, photos and links via Facebook. How to get more Friends and Followers: There are no hard and fast "rules" for social media for non-profits, but there are a few key principles to keep in mind: •Interact: There's a reason why they call it "social" media – you're supposed to treat it like a conversation, not a monologue. One of the best ways to find more followers for your organization is to interact with people – in a personal and authentic way. Respond to comments about your organization, and get involved in blog discussions or online forums about the issues your organization addresses. •Be patient: It takes time to build up a big social media presence; it doesn't happen overnight. Assign someone at your organization to spend some time every day on Twitter searching for mentions of your organization and sending "@ replies" to the people who have positive things to say. Find the people who are already talking about your organization, and follow them – often they will follow you back. •Reach out: Do a Google search and find bloggers who are writing about your organization, reach out to them and ask them to refer people to your Facebook page. •Build on existing contacts: Send a mass e-mail to your existing donors, volunteers and fans, and invite them to join you online. Make it easy to connect to your Facebook and Twitter pages by posting buttons on your website Contact page, from your blog posts, and everywhere else you have a presence on line. Finding effective website metrics Every non-profit organization should have a website, no matter how basic. But do you know what your website means? You need to have a way to identify relevant information and track metrics to show how your website is supporting your organization's overall goals – and these metrics should be included and tracked on your Balanced Scorecard. Potential BSC Key Performance Indicators •Number of viewers: How many people are visiting your website each day, week, and month? What are the peak visit days? How many unique visitors do you have? •Length of site visit: How long are people hanging around on your website? Do you have enough interesting content to keep people's attention, or do they just drop by briefly and then move on to something else? •Days since last update: One of the most important ways to keep your website at the top of the Google search results is to refresh your site regularly with new content – especially with blog posts or social media feeds (you can connect your Twitter feed so that all of your Tweets appear on your website as well). By tracking the days since last update, you can give your staff another measurable performance goal to track on the Balanced Scorecard. •Number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends: quality is more important than quantity, but quantity doesn't hurt – and this gives you a way to track whether your online efforts are getting attention. •Number of Twitter @ replies – track how many people are forwarding your messages and spreading the word to others? Are you "Findable" online? Another related goal for your organization's website should be to make sure that your website is up-to-date on Google, Bing, and MapQuest Maps with your organization's phone number, address and hours (if that is important to your organization). Social media has matured and it's time to join professionally. The tools impact real users, create real events, and result in real donations. If your organization would like guidance in this field of strategic impact, we would be honored to work with your organization. Just an email or phone call can start the conversation.
Running the Numbers
Posted October 12, 2010 10:00 PM by Ted Jackson
This is a guest blog re-ported from Brad Howe's November Newsletter. Brad is the owner of Financial Managers Trust.
Even though I had done it six or seven times over the years, there was no certainty that I could do it again. Seven years had passed since the last time, and it doesn't get easier as you get older. It wasn't that the burden was getting too much to bear -- I'd been carrying most of it for at least a couple of years -- simply that I was getting squeezed all around. My clothes really didn't fit: proof that you can't get eleven pounds of flour in a ten-pound sack. I needed to lose weight.
Avoid Poor Press and Espionage - Keys to Protecting Your Organzation
Posted October 4, 2010 3:34 PM by Jeremy Sutherland
The Balanced Scorecard methodology can drive amazing results. It can also cause a royal headache if improperly publicized. As with any leadership tool or report, your organization must be careful to understand what impacts a public report may have. Local non-profits are usually the least at-risk, with publicly traded companies and governmental organizations requiring more due diligence. Regardless of your status, it's worth understanding the key concepts below:Publicly Traded Companies: If you work at a publicly traded company, be careful not to share Balanced Scorecard information regarding business forecasts. For example, many companies have restrictions leading up to quarterly or annual financial results reporting, where no forecasting or performance information can be released. (These types of sensitivities often apply as well to private non-profit organizations that have to issue regular performance reports to donors and board members.) In the case of a publicly traded organization, disclosure restrictions must be factored into the decision on how to report results. FOIA Exposure: If your organization is a government agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), every piece of recording information within your agency – whether it's meeting minutes, memos, e-mails, or a rough draft of a new policy – could potentially be subject to FOIA requests from members of the public or press. This means that unless your Balanced Scorecard contains FOIA-exempt information like national security secrets, personnel information, or other confidential information, you may be asked to share the details behind your publicly available scorecard. Of course, even if you're not subject to FOIA, there are other reasons why your organization might not want to disclose all of the information on your Balanced Scorecard. To protect yourself, there are a few key principles to keep in mind as you protect your agency's proprietary and/or sensitive information. Government Agencies: should understand what information is exempt from FOIA. There are nine specific exemptions worth investigating including national security secrets, personnel files, medical records, or information pursuant to law enforcement investigations would not need to be disclosed. Redaction and Proprietary Statements: are the first line of warning staff about sensitive information. Time Limitations: may be related to information requests. There might be organizational, local, state, or federal statutes that further protect sensitive information by allowing a lag time between collection and availability of public review. Publicly Traded Companies: may be subject to other regulations should financial information be disclosed via a publicly posted Balanced Scorecard. Consider using metrics or rating scales that eliminate the disclosure of prohibited information. Utilizing a less detailed public report can allow senior management the detail and privacy leadership needs while still ensuring accountability to the public. International Regulations: may require drastically different precautions so if your information is proprietary or sensitive, seeking legal counsel on the matter may be a good precaution. Ultimately, the Balanced Scorecard methodology is a one-of-a-kind planning tool that will give your organization shared knowledge of vision, current state, and key trends. From our experience, the benefits far outweigh the possible risks related to managing public records. And as every non-profit and governmental organization exists to improve the surrounding community – the best Balanced Scorecards ultimately should be displaying and celebrating your good works. If you have any questions or would like help protecting your scorecard- we are just a call away. Note: The ACLU has a helpful book called: "The Step by Step Guide to Using the Freedom of Information Act"
Increasing College Graduation Rates
Posted October 3, 2010 7:46 AM by Ted Jackson
President Obama has tried to inspire the collegiate world by setting a goal for the United States to have the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by 2020. Looking at this goal very simply, the colleges, especially state universities need to start graduating more students. The situation gets a little more complex when you realize that colleges rely very heavily on state funding, and with the economic crisis, most budgets have been cut. The University of Hawaii system has seen its budget cut over 20% from 2009-2011. So, how can you increase graduate rates with fewer and fewer resources?