Delivering the Promise

“Data alone do not drive change. It is insight – the process of making sense or meaning out of information – that sparks learning and change. Who gets what information, how they get it, and how they are supported to reflect and act on it are critical.[i]Cutest toddler ever - happy in playground

This is a selection of stories demonstrating the difference performance management systems make for social programs. It captures the attitudes and approaches of people who have figured out how to make data work for their organisations.

This performance management story is not one of brilliant technological architecture. It is a story of people and the way they work together. Performance analysts sit at the centre of performance management systems. They create feedback loops with a wide array of stakeholders, from those who deliver services on the ground to their boards of management. The role is founded on a deep understanding of the journey taken by clients, and the needs of the staff supporting them.

Performance analysts entice everyone in their organisations to make better decisions by seeking, analysing and then disseminating information. This leads to improvements across their programs and ultimately more reliable outcomes for the clients they serve.

Performance management for social outcomes has evolved over the past few decades[ii], but the past few years have seen a growing urgency and flourishing interest from governments, service delivery organisations, philanthropists and social impact investors[iii]. Despite the value they add, very few social purpose organisations employ performance analysts. We hope to help change that.

Trends that are driving the need for performance management include outcomes-based contracting of public services, social impact investment (including social impact bonds and microfinance) and collaborative service delivery.

We focus on the role and perceived effect of:

(a) measuring and monitoring systems, and

(b) staff operating them.

These are respectively referred to as ‘performance management systems’ and ‘performance analysts’.

Interviews were conducted with social purpose organisations and their funders, to understand the difference performance management systems make.

Under ‘perspectives’, you will find detailed interviews with performance analysts to paint a picture of who they are and what they do.

Finally, the components of a performance management system are described along with suggestions for resources to help with design and implementation.

[i] Bowie, P. & Inkelas, M. (2014). Telling Your Story is a Click Away: Using Data to Support Community Change. The Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute for Public Affairs.

[ii] Hunter, D. K. (2013). Working Hard – and Working Well. Hunter Consulting

[iii] Winkler, M. (2014) A flourishing performance management landscape. Urban Institute.