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Performance Management E-Learning Module



Introduction

Go to Section: Overview > Objectives

This Toolkit is intended to support organizations in the adolescent pregnancy prevention and expectant and parenting teen fields in developing and improving internal performance management systems and practices that harness the power of data for informed, strategic decision-making and quality improvement. It includes information, helpful tips and examples of concepts and tools such as logic models, performance dashboards, and indicator development. The process of performance management is also highlighted for organizations as they move towards implementing or refining these concepts.

An important first step for grantees is to determine personal and organizational levels of understanding and commitment to performance management. The Office of Adolescent Health has developed an assessment to help grantees determine where their organization is strong in performance management and what might need improvement. Taking this assessment before you complete these sections will be helpful.

Such systems and practices support the ongoing operational success of grantees, support strategic planning efforts, and improve grantees' understanding of their own organizational strengths and challenges - a key tenet in strategic partnering. Performance management also allows grantees to better demonstrate their stated goals and measure identified outcomes.

The Toolkit provides information and resources that will enable organizations to achieve the following objectives:

  • Improve existing performance management knowledge and infrastructure by learning key performance measurement concepts;
  • Identify strengths and areas for organizational improvement through the examination of performance management processes and practices; and
  • Increase awareness of available performance management resources.

The first section covers key concepts in performance management and focuses on developing a logic model as a guiding tool, implementing performance dashboards, and developing key indicators. The second section discusses organizational practices that are essential to a successful performance management system and how to implement them. Lastly, specific resources have been gathered to assist grantees in developing their own performance managment procedures and learning more on performance management.

Concepts

Go to Section: Logic Models > Performance Dashboards > Indicator Development

Logic Models

Key Term: Logic Model

A logic model is a visual representation of the underlying assumptions and anticipated outcomes related to an organization's work.

One of the most helpful tools an organization can create to begin practicing performance management is a logic model. Logic models are visual representations of underlying assumptions and anticipated outcomes related to an organization's work. Logic models are widely used in both nonprofits and the business world, with good reason. With a one page document, an organization can convey to staff, organizations, key stakeholders, clients, and funders what it is they do, why they do it, and how they accomplish stated goals. Many funders like to see a logic model when they consider funding an organization because it shows that the organization has thought seriously about the work they are doing and set attainable goals and outcomes that will be regularly evaluated.

Logic models can take on many different visual forms, but they all have the same core components. To illustrate the components of a logic model, an example of a school-based program working with pregnant and parenting teens will be used. The ultimate goal of this example program is to reduce subsequent unplanned pregnancies thereby increasing the likelihood that the teens graduate from high school. See the template below as an example logic model based on this program.

Inputs

These are the resources that an organization invests to make their work happen. Examples include staff time, office space, and funding.

Activities

Activities are the daily operations of an organization. These are actual things an organization does such as providing services, offering trainings, and community outreach.

Outputs

Outputs are what are produced by the organization or program as a direct product of the activities. Outputs are quantifiable and are usually easy to verify with basic program data.

Outcomes

Outcomes are the effects and changes achieved by the program. They are often separated into short term and long term outcomes. Short term outcomes are the immediate effects of a program while long term outcomes are meaningful changes, often in a person's status in life or effecting a large population of society. Outcomes are the key components of a program that can be evaluated to determine if an organization's underlying assumptions are correct about the change their work produces.

Finally, an important component of a logic model and performance measurement process is the feedback loop or evaluation process. Once an organization has undergone the practice of determining their actual outcomes and evaluating their performance, using this information to inform future work is key. This ensures that the time, energy, and resources put into performance management are not wasted by data sitting unused on a shelf. A logic model should be a living document that staff refer to often and use when making decisions regarding operations and services. Particularly in an environment where funds are scarce, having a logic model in place helps leaders justify the allocation of resources and funds towards the organization's primary goals and allows other staff to see the basis for these often tough decisions. This ensures that an organization's work is aligned with its primary objects and keeps mission creep at bay.

Performance Dashboards

Key Term: Performance Dashboard

A performance dashboard is a powerful tool that allows management to gauge progress on the objectives they have determined are important to their operations and goals.

Another tool that was first created in the business world but remains applicable to human services is a performance dashboard. A performance dashboard is a powerful tool that allows management to gauge progress on the objectives they have determined are important to their operations and goals. These objectives can be taken from the development of a logic model or determined through other types of strategic planning. A dashboard is an electronic system that is able to provide the user with a visual representation of how a program or organization is performing both at a specific point in time and over a period of time. It provides a way for organizations to monitor, analyze, and manage their programs and gain a quick snapshot of performance.

Dashboards allow organizations to monitor their program’s processes and activities. This can include day to day operations such as how many clients each case manager has or the number of attendees at parenting classes. In addition to daily operations, users can monitor their strategic goals. These goals could include reaching a target audience, achieving a fundraising level or expanding program operations. An approach called a “balanced scorecard” is a common way to monitor strategic goals and can be considered a type of dashboard. In addition to using historical data, a balanced scorecard offers reliable information about future performance to enable organizations to make informed decisions that will better benefit their agency and program. This is done by developing a measurement tool that provides the user with combined information from across the organization; utilizing data from an organization’s financial, client, business, and human capital processes/perspectives. Again, a balanced scorecard is just one approach but is a common performance measurement tool and one worth considering when deciding to implement a performance management system. To read more about balanced scorecards, see the “Strategy” section in the Resources section at the end of this toolkit.

In addition to simply viewing an organization’s performance data, dashboards allow users to analyze this data across the different departments or layers within an organization. This can be used to find the root cause of any issues an organization or program may be experiencing or attempt to predict the outcome of a specific management decision. In order to implement this step, a dashboard must have the capability to integrate data from a variety of sources.

Organizations are also able to manage their programs and organizational information via dashboards. Dashboards facilitate communication, often allowing managers and their staff to interact via performance notes, threaded discussions, and formulation of action plans. They can be created with the ability to produce graphs and charts related to the program’s performance so that managers can view performance quickly and create visuals to depict performance for other interested stakeholders such as administrators, funders, and other staff.

Dashboards can either be built internally by an organization or can be purchased from an outside vendor and then customized to fit an organization’s needs. These systems are often a significant financial undertaking, particularly if an outside vendor is hired to create one for an organization, so the decision to pursue one should be considered in light of financial resources. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has developed a dashboard to keep the public informed of progress on a variety of key indicators of community health and well-being. The dashboard provides one example of how this tool can be utilized. It can be viewed at: http://dashboard.dhs.state.mn.us/default.aspx.

Indicator Development

When setting up a performance management system, it is important to decide how success will be defined and how progress towards that success will be measured. In the field of performance management, this measurement is referred to as a performance indicator. To decide what should be used as performance indicators, organizations must ask themselves what is most important to our organization or program? This can be influenced by many factors, including what outcomes funders wish to see, the organization’s mission, a strategic goal the organization has committed to work towards, or the environment within which the program is operating. This is when it is very helpful to have a logic model for your program because this question can often be answered by reviewing the short and long term outcomes. These may not be the only significant indicators but are a good place to start the process of indicator development. Though indicators can vary and be developed from different sources, they should always be quantifiable. Once indicators are created, they can be used within a dashboard or other performance management system to monitor progress.

Practices & Implementation

Go to Section: Overview > Plan > Measure > Analyze > Improve > ...Repeat

Overview

Though each organization’s performance management procedures may look different, it is helpful to follow the basic process of performance management to ensure that all the proper steps are in place. By following these recognized steps, those outside an organization can easily see and understand that performance management is a priority. The process is cyclical (see diagram) because, as discussed in the previous module on logic models, the information gained from analyzing and evaluating the organization’s work should be used to both improve existing work and inform new work. However, it is often possible, even necessary, to move back and forth between each step as an organization’s needs dictate. The process is also important as it allows time and space for challenges to be addressed. The basic phases of the performance management process and tips on implementing a process follow.

The Performance Management System: A cycle of Plan, Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Plan

During the planning phase, identifying goals and appropriate benchmarks for success are the key activities. Consider how success will be defined- by a number, by satisfaction of clients, by meeting a specific outcome? These will be the goals that are evaluated through the performance management process. During this phase, staff should also identify the resources that will be deployed in support of the goals and be sure enough of the resources (time, space, funding) are available.

The Performance Management System: A cycle of Plan, Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Measure

Once an organization has planned what benchmarks need to be measured, processes need to be designed to collect data and measure progress towards the benchmarks. This can include designing an instrument or using one that has already been created, perhaps with a few tweaks. Examples include surveys, forms, case logs, and electronic tracking systems. There are a variety of electronic performance management systems (such as the dashboards discussed in the previous section) that exist to help program administrators track and measure their work. These are usually available for a cost and are often a significant investment. Something administrators may wish to consider is the amount of time it will take staff to utilize the measurement instrument. If it is a form already in place, then obviously the time investment is minimal. However, if they need to learn an entirely new electronic system, that will require additional staff time and training.

The Performance Management System: A cycle of Plan, Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Analyze

This process takes the raw data collected in the Measure phase and examines it for trends, goal completion and other needed data. Then, it is important to compile it into a consumable format for stakeholders. The format can be a report, presentation or even an email if that is all the stakeholder requests. Electronic performance management systems (mentioned previously) often include an analysis component that easily provide the user with trends, averages and progress towards programmed benchmarks. The analysis phase is based on what the organization feels is important to know. This can be dictated by funders, such as a need to know the total number of clients served, but it can also be based on an organization’s goals and information needs. Even if data is easily collected, consider if it’s relevant to the specific goals and benchmarks set by the organization and if not, there isn’t a need to spend time analyzing and reporting it.

The Performance Management System: A cycle of Plan, Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Improve

Once the analysis is complete, it is important to integrate the findings into regular program operations. For example, if a program offers four parenting classes a week and one is found to have significantly lower attendance than the others, perhaps the less popular class is cut so that resources can be directed elsewhere. This ensures that the ultimate goal of performance management, improved performance, is achieved. To achieve this step, organizations should set aside time to discuss how the data gathered effects current work. This could be in the form of a standing meeting or the responsibility of one key staff member. During this phase, organizations can also address any program challenges that were found during the performance management process.

The Performance Management System: A cycle of Plan, Measure, Analyze, and Improve

...Repeat

Much like a logic model shouldn’t sit on a shelf once it’s developed, a performance management system should be an ongoing process. Once findings are integrated into program operations, the process begins again so that an organization is constantly improving its services and operations.

The Performance Management System: A cycle of Plan, Measure, Analyze, and Improve

Summary

Go to Section: Conclusion > Resources

Conclusion

Effective performance management systems support the ongoing operational success of grantees, bolster strategic planning efforts, and improve grantees’ understanding of their own organizational strengths and challenges. In order to implement effective performance management practices, it is critical to have a clear understanding of how your organization will define success. It’s also important to recognize that effective performance management is an ongoing process that relies on data in order to ensure that programs are achieving their intended outcomes. Remember, not only do effective performance management practices assist organizations in managing their programs in systematic ways, but they also help to ensure the sustainability of those efforts.

In this toolkit, you've been introducted to:

3 Key Performance Management Concepts

  1. Logic Models
  2. Performance dashboards
  3. Indicators

4 Steps for Effective Performance Management

  1. Plan
  2. Measure
  3. Analyze
  4. Improve

...Repeat!

Make sure to explore the resources section of the toolkit where you will find links to a number of resources to assist your efforts to implement, or fine-tune, your organization’s performance management system.

The resources below are provided as a supplement to this toolkit for those who wish to find more information on performance management and associated tools. They are organized into sections to make finding the type of resource simpler.

Understanding

This section provides information on the basic precepts and premises of performance management.

Strategy

This section provides information on performance management practices and strategies organizations can use to enhance their performance management system.

Tools

This section provides links to virtual tools that help organizations make performance management more effective and efficient.

Quality Improvement

Quality Improvement is the ultimate goal of performance management. This section explores activities that facilitate positive change based on accumulated performance data.

The views expressed in written training materials, publications, or presentations do not reflect the official policies of the Office of Adolescent Health, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. Any statements expressed are those of the parties responsible for developing this training content, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Adolescent Health, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Exam

Go to Section: Exam Intro > Exam

Final Exam

You have nearly completed the Performance Management E-Learning Module!

To finish the module, you must correctly answer the 13 of the following 15 questions.

Question 1

A logic model is:

Question 2

The order of the components of a logic model is:

Question 3

True or False: All logic models look the same no matter which organization is creating them.

Question 4

A performance dashboard is:

Question 5

True or False: A performance dashboard can be created within an organization or developed using an outside vendor that specializes in such applications.

Question 6

One common type of performance dashboard is called a:

Question 7

True or False: A performance indicator is a measure of important factors related to an organization’s work.

Question 8

True or False: Performance indicators can be used within a performance dashboard once they are created.

Question 9

The process of performance management follows the following steps:

Question 10

True or False: The process of performance management is cyclical.

Question 11

True or False: It is not important to plan what is going to be measured when undertaking performance management.

Question 12

True or False: It is not a good idea to use instruments and forms an organization already has in place (such as case logs, forms and electronic tracking system) to measure data for performance management.

Question 13

When data is analyzed for performance management, it is then put into a consumable format such as:

Question 14

Once data analysis is complete:

Question 15

True or False: Logic models and performance management systems are living, ongoing processes that should not sit unused on a shelf.

Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on June 30, 2017