Winter 2019 Newsletter
Strategic Planning and Performance Management
In this issue, we focus on strategic planning, performance measurement, and SMART goals.
As a recent “insider” to city government, I leapt at the opportunity to become involved in my workplace’s strategic planning process and budget formation for our biennium. Hence, it was also a very timely opportunity to reflect on Monica Croskey’s article Intersection of Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement.
In the article, Croskey, a Strategy and Performance Manager for City of Rock Hill, SC, describes the strategic planning process that her city works through. It is a comprehensive process which takes several days of all-city leadership participation through multiple drafts and iterations. Specifically, I would like to call out the powerful Exhibit 2 (pg. 3), which displays the city’s strategic plan framework. The framework encompasses focus areas (likely derived from City Council goals), departmental goals and objectives, associated tasks and performance measurements. Ensuring that each focus area is drilled down into the actionable and measurable details of tasks and performance metrics is critical to defining the path forward and gauging the ultimate successes or failures of the organization.
I recommend Croskey’s article, which provides a phenomenal description of City of Rock Hill’s overall strategic planning process, a process that represents an important investment from both the City Council and City Staff. Often it takes multiple months, requires third-party facilitators, and requires extensive amounts of time on the part of the department leadership and staff to do the legwork aligning the budget with strategic goals.
In her overview of the city’s strategic planning process, Croskey points out the importance of performance management but doesn’t delve into many details. This is unfortunate because once an organization decides it wants to become performance-management focused, it sets in motion a transformation toward greater accountability and transparency that can facilitate clear and meaningful dialog throughout the organization and with citizen stakeholders. No longer can beautifully word-smithed, broad-sweeping goals announcing that we will “improve city efficiency”, “increase community engagement” or “increase affordable housing” (as just a few examples) be left undefined and then later declared a resounding success due to a simple increase in budget spend. When your organization embraces true performance management, vague goals—no matter how lofty—cannot survive the strategic planning process. Leaders and stakeholders of data-driven organizations recognize that in order to achieve goals, those goals must be crafted as “SMART” goals. And to accomplish SMART goals, you need metrics.
SMART goals can be challenging to articulate for organizations just embarking on the journey to becoming more data driven. To convert a well-intended goal statement into a SMART goal statement requires that you follow the SMART formula by making the goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, rather than “optimize useful life of existing infrastructure,” you might say “optimize useful life of existing infrastructure through increasing the Pavement Condition Index by 5%, and to reduce sewer and water outages by 10% over the biennium.” You can see how the SMART goal includes critical and sufficient detail for us to know unambiguously whether or not we have met it. Furthermore, to achieve these exacting goals, we must devise tangible actions and metrics to support and inform our progress, such as number of road miles resurfaced or slurry-sealed, or total sewer pipe miles upgraded and preventative maintenance performed on the water system.
Metrics are the building blocks of SMART goals and a performance measurement-driven organization. But determining what is important to both your department/organization and to the citizens is key, as it cannot all be tracked. Once the strategic priorities for an organization are set, then resources must be allocated to determine appropriate metrics. Thankfully, we did not start from scratch. Many national organizations have standardized metrics for various departments (Police, Firefighting and Finance come to mind). Additionally, nationally available datasets published on Data.gov can serve as a reference for what other municipalities are producing on a regular basis. Once metrics are agreed upon, then and only then, can the painstaking process of ensuring the data is available and captured to support those metrics begin. The kicker of all of this is that it will require additional resources to ensure those metrics are constantly updated, accurate and impactful.
While the Crosky article referenced was spot-on with respect to the overall framework, the time and resources required to develop performance metrics to support strategic plans should not feel like a byproduct or a sub-process of the planning work. Ultimately, the organization’s performance metrics will be front and center with the citizens as the public-facing report card for the City. As government organizations, we owe it to the citizens we serve, our employees, and our broader roster of stakeholders to provide a transparent, well-defined path towards success. “A rising tide will lift all boats” – performance management will get us there.
[Stewart Winslow, City of Bend, provided the article for this issue. If you have ideas for future articles, please submit them through email at email@example.com.]
Featured Program/Organization: ODOT Central Services
The ODOT Central Services Excellence Journey and Role of the Performance Excellence Team in Strategic Planning
In 2016, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) began working on a framework for the Central Services Performance System (CSPS). The system began with a focus on “Partners in Service Excellence” by working with the leadership team to identify performance measures and goals and to establish a cadence of quarterly performance reviews. Today, the performance system tracks 40 active, high-level measures across seven key areas: Budget, Business and Performance Services, Facilities, Finance, Human Resources, Information Systems, and Procurement.
The Central Services Performance Excellence Team (PET) ensures the CSPS is functioning effectively and stakeholders have the knowledge and expertise to sustain and improve the system. Each of the five PET consultants serves as a business partner to one or more Central Services branches. The team manages the organization’s performance scorecard, serves as the project management office for major breakthrough initiatives in the division, coordinates process performance reviews, and provides training and leadership in problem solving, process improvement, change management, and strategic planning.
Because there is always additional work to do before realizing a timesaving, a major challenge in deploying any large initiative is the need to make the additional work relevant and important. At the same time Central Service deployed its new performance system, ODOT received the largest investment package in its history (HB 2017), which added over 240 positions and touched processes across the agency. In 2018, ODOT released a 5-year Strategic Business Plan that challenged and changed the way the agency looks at governance, tech and data, its workforce and investments. Each of these initiatives had a profound impact in the work performed by Central Services. At the beginning of 2019, a new timekeeping and reporting system rolled out the same time as a statewide HR system; both would change how every employee and manager processed tasks from recruitments to daily timesheets.
An ongoing challenge of the PET is to address the question, “How do we find time to do performance measures on top of everything else?” The purpose of the Performance Excellence Team is to help ODOT thrive by engaging in meaningful partnerships that connect people and processes to the big picture, and develop the confidence and capabilities to attain tangible, measurable results.
On top of everything else, Central Services leadership is currently working through the biennial initiative planning process. State budgets operate on a two-year cycle. For the 2019-21 biennium, the PET took on the challenge of linking initiatives (new, significant work) to people, process, and performance in ways that should reduce overall effort. The work was divided into five steps.
Step 1 was to identify and link the core business processes managed by Central Services. The resulting Enterprise Map identified 102 cross-functional business processes.
In Step 2, the PET began working with their CSD partners to identify core outputs, a process owner, customers and stakeholders for each process on the Enterprise Map and to tie processes to high-level performance measures.
The ODOT Central Services Fundamentals Map is a high-level view of core processes, subprocesses, process measures, and outcome measures. Step 3 asks us to step back from the processes that produce results and ask, “Is how we do business effective? Is there a driving need for improvement?” Major initiative triggers include the Strategic Business Plan, technology assessments, key scorecard measures that refuse to move, customer / stakeholder feedback, and Legislative requirements. The result of Step 3 was a raw list of branch level initiatives unit managers wanted to bring to the table for consideration.
Step 4 recognizes that people and organizations have limited capacity for change. How well do you know your organization's needs and capabilities? Can you really do everything on your wish list? Or are you throwing things at the wall to see what sticks? It is far better to complete one or two major initiatives than to start ten.
In Step 4, the PET facilitated discussions with their business partners to narrow the list of initiatives by assessing the impact on the mission, present performance, and ease of making improvements. The scores populated a bubble chart that helped visually put initiatives in perspective. The most beneficial outcome of this exercise was allowing all of the unit managers to assess their initiative ideas in relationship to other initiatives requiring similar resources. Laying out the top 10-15 initiatives in a high-level Gantt chart with timeline and estimated resources by month helped gauge resource strain.
The biennial initiative planning process started in October 2018. In January, the Central Services Leadership Team met to present their draft plans and learn what other initiatives are on the horizon (Step 4). Because an excellent motivator for taking on new initiatives is to celebrate successes of the past, presentations started by acknowledging “Major Wins” in the current biennium. The planning worksheet is an important tool in the original planning process that provides space to think about and capture ideas where the branch wants or needs to change. In addition to Major Wins, categories include Increase, Decrease, New, Stop, Milestones and Metrics.
For example, a branch may want to INCREASE employee engagement, DECREASE the number of travel vouchers requiring manual review, STOP making assumptions about how things work in other areas, and add a NEW process to link digital signatures to invoices. MILESTONES describe when the branch expects to meet a major goal, such as implement a new automated expense reimbursement system by January 2021, complete electronic signature risk assessment by October 2019, etc. Step 5 will begin in April when Central Services leaders consider new initiatives stemming from the current legislative session and examine how their branch’s initiatives link with – or conflict with -- other initiatives. This second prioritization exercise will evaluate Strategic Alignment, Have-to-Have v Nice-to-Have, Shared Budget/Resource Impact, Coordinated Work, Health and Safety, expansion and Growth, and Budget Resource Impact.
In June, the PET and Central Services leaders will compile and review final plans in time to start the new biennium on July 1!
 ODOT structure: Agency > Division > Branch > Business Unit > Crew (Team)
--Victoria Hawley, ODOT Central Services, Performance Excellence Team (Feb. 2019)
OPPIA Featured Person and March 2019 Lunch and Learn Speaker
Victoria Hawley, Performance Excellence Business Partner, Oregon Dept. of Transportation
I got my start in process improvement at age eight making floor plans for an expansion to the family house. I took measurements, considered the requirements (two kids’ bedrooms and a bath), the constraints (doors, windows, heating ducts), and the review approval process (i.e. what was likely to get Dad to say yes?) In the end, my room was twice as big as my brothers’. I learned early -- the best way to get what you want is to understand how the process works. And be willing to do the hard work! The clincher was agreeing to patch the sheetrock and paint.
Today, I lead the Oregon Department of Transportation, Central Services Division Performance Excellence Team (PET). The PET supports the division and its leadership through education, training and consulting services in the areas of strategic planning, performance measures, and process improvement. The road to ODOT (no pun intended) looks like the route from Scappoose to Dundee: A relatively straight line on the map with several interesting twists at ground level.
I once told my adult brother, “You know, one summer in college I worked near Minneapolis as a stripper.” A weather stripper for Andersen Windows. There I learned about time-based performance systems where ‘the suits’ periodically came around with stop watches to see how many pieces were processed during a set time. Of course, everyone slowed down during the test and sped up during regular production so they could meet bonus, typically 20% of regular pay. From there I worked in a division office of Northern States Power in the General Accounting department, before moving to Tacoma, WA, where my daughter was born. Interesting stints as a buyer in the construction supply business and finance in long-term health care led back to my first love -- the utility industry -- at Pacific Telecom Inc. (PTI is now part of Century Link) in Vancouver, WA.
While overseeing the revenue reporting and analysis section for long distance services, I co-led a joint project to improve reporting between my company and AT&T, early adopters of quality management, writing their own book on process improvement called, “Painting the Roses Red.” If you want red roses, plant them. Don’t institutionalize a process to paint white ones. One project focusing on quality using a results-oriented approach and I was hooked! I eventually used this and similar experiences to reengineer my unit out of existence and become PTI’s first corporate process improvement coordinator.
This was the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when quality management standards and process improvement were fresh and new to Oregon. To expand my experience and meet the growing need for experienced consultants, I left PTI after nine years to start my own company, Process Flow Specialists, Inc. Over the next 20 years I worked with high-tech, low tech, and aerospace companies to design and implement quality management systems based on ISO 9000 and AS-9100 standards. I became actively involved on the steering committees and boards of the Portland ISO 9000 Users Group, Oregon Quality Initiative, and American Society for Quality (ASQ) Portland Section. Spending half my time in the manufacturing world and half in the public sector, I also worked with ODOT and City of Salem to map, analyze, and redesign business processes.
Much of this time I lived with my (new) husband, daughter, and a cat onboard a 37’ sailboat on the Columbia River before jumping ship, or small boat, as it were, for a 65’ steel trawler built for the US-Army, which we remodeled and refit for comfort and long-distance cruising. Semi-retiring in 2008, my husband and I sailed to Alaska and then to Mexico, where we cruised the Gulf of California for four years. I returned to ODOT as an employee in 2013 and live in Salem (my husband, still retired, escapes to the boat as often as he can), and now enjoy land cruising in my new Tesla and taking my grandson on adventures.
Fall 2018 Newsletter
In August 2018, the Board of the Oregon Public Performance Measurement Association (OPPMA) changed its mission, purpose, and name to better serve state and local government employees and reflect the changing needs of our members. Today, we are the Oregon Public Performance Improvement Association (OPPIA). The Mission of OPPIA is to improve the performance of state and local government in Oregon by inspiring, educating, and supporting public sector employees in their capacity to successfully implement performance best practices. The Purpose of OPPIA is to:
Facilitate a common understanding of performance improvement best practices.
Foster open discussion between public sector employees and Oregon citizens on how to improve government performance.
Provide venues for performance improvement practitioners to share their experience and collaborate on solutions to the performance challenges facing their organizations.
Provide access to information and other resources to enhance organizational performance improvement skills and education.
Offer quality training opportunities relevant to a diverse range of public sector employees and citizens from organizations at all stages of maturity in implementing performance management systems.
Purpose + Process + People = Results
In this issue, we focus on three pillars of performance management: Purpose + Process + People = Results.
Purpose provides a clear picture of where you want to be. Performance metrics tell us where we are today compared to a defined goal. Without purpose, programs, and processes people are left to define their own goals, with the inherent risk of each pulling in a different direction.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, reconfirmed a pervasive government management problem in its new report published as part of the “Managing for Results” series. The title defines the problem: Managing for Results: Government wide Actions Needed to Improve Agencies' Use of Performance Information in Decision Making
In addition to its analysis and detailed survey results by agency, the GAO report makes two recommendations:
Create a Data Action Plan that identifies:
Performance goals (tangible, measurable results);
Contributing sources (agencies, units, programs, processes, systems);
Those responsible for leading implementation of the Plan for each of the sources;
Planned actions with time frames; and the
Means to assess progress (and evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken – as defined by the Plan – Do – Check – Assess/Act cycle).
Prioritize efforts to:
Identify and share proven practices for increasing use of performance information; and
Identify challenges (barriers) that hamper implementation of data-driven decision-making and include strategies for addressing challenges to the Action Plan (this includes ensuring data is timely, reliable, believable, and accessible.)
The mantra at the first quality conference I attended was, “In God we trust, everyone else bring data.” That was in 1986. Where do Oregon state and local agencies stand with performance metrics today? While we have a long way to go, I think we are moving in the right direction. At the Oregon Department of Transportation, we recently set up a Central Services Performance System (CSPS) to identify and track performance metrics for core processes. ODOT’s CSPS is based on models used by DAS, DHS, the State Hospital, and many other state agencies. A common framework simplifies communication between agencies, leaders, and staff. However, do not let the lack of an established framework stop you from using data to form your decisions.
Discussion item: Where do I/my team routinely use data to make decisions? Where can I/we improve?
The second pillar, Process, is the approach an agency can use to manage performance.
In the fiercely competitive airline industry, it's an ongoing challenge to cut costs while enhancing the traveler's experience. Many airlines have embraced a Lean culture to maintain their customer focus while eliminating waste. Of course, some are farther along than others. Check out this ten-point lean checklist for leaders developed by McKinsey & Company. The article defines Lean benefits as:
Savings that go straight to the bottom line.
Improved customer experience.
Employees engaged in a more productive “value-added” workplace.
How do these benefits apply to the public sector? Savings are savings. All agencies struggle to stretch budgets. A penny saved is a penny earned. We all have customers: The public, legislators, other agencies, business units, and employees. Who of our customers do not want the products and services we deliver to arrive faster, better, cheaper? In a tight labor market with increasing demand to do more with less, attracting and retaining highly skilled employees is difficult at best. If we can’t woo them with money, we can provide a challenging, rewarding Lean-culture inspired work environment free of wasteful practices.
Discussion item: What can we do to identify Lean wastes? (Huddle boards, Gemba walks, process audits...)
Which leads to the third pillar, People.
New research shows that curiosity is vital to an organization’s performance—as are the particular ways in which people are curious and the experiences to which they are exposed. This section examines how leaders can nurture curiosity throughout their organizations and ensure that it translates to success.
Read John Kamensky’s article The Role of Curiosity in Innovation, and the underlying Harvard Business Review article The Business Case for Curiosity, by Francesa Gino. In his article, Kamensky notes the benefit of curiosity is, “Managers are less likely to only focus on information that supports their pre-existing beliefs because curiosity encourages looking for new options.”
The barriers to curiosity include mindsets that, “often shy away from encouraging curiosity because they believe the company would be harder to manage if people were allowed to explore their own interests.”
Mr. Kamensky’s article also describes Five Ways to Bolster Curiosity. Indulge your curiosity -- read it!
Discussion item: Under item 1. Hire for Curiosity, do you believeKamenky’s comment, “This advice may not work in a government context...” Why or why not? What can your agency do to evaluate the curiosity index of candidates?
[Pablo Torrent and Victoria Hawley, Oregon Dept. of Transportation, provided the articles for this issue. If you have ideas for future articles, please submit them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
City of Bend Launches Data and Analytics Program: A Case Study
In September 2017, the City of Bend established a Data and Analytics Program (DAP) to make data available for City staff for decision making and ensuring its accuracy, timeliness and relevance. For several years, various City departments had been working on data projects, reporting and performance measurement. With DAP’s creation, City management took the next step to develop a central resource to support data sharing and analysis across the organization.
“Many of our departments started this journey years ago,” said City Manager Eric King, “For example, the monthly Accountability Report generated by the Fire Department, measuring response times and resource deployment, the data analytics being deployed in Community Development to detect needed permitting process improvements, or the crime analysis done in the Police Department to develop a bike theft prevention program."
Building on the work done by early adopters within the City, management decided to incubate the newly created Data and Analytics Program within a department that understood the importance of the work—the Community Development Department. The pilot program started as a four-person team charged with supporting data analysis and reporting.
The program’s first priority was the creation of a public-facing dashboard that tracks progress on internal and community goals. With only two of the four team members dedicated full-time to DAP due to pre-existing project commitments, the team had a big job to do in a short amount of time with limited resources. The DAP team published the dashboard to the City's website in October 2017.
“Gathering the data from a diverse and busy group was extremely difficult. Various datasets had to be cobbled together from multiple departments and systems, which in some cases was locked away in people’s heads,” said Interim DAP Manager Jesse Thomas. “Adding to the complexity was the task of building simple indicators and metrics to explain complex and non-intuitive programs or policies.”
In addition to the dashboard, DAP staff also worked to establish the Data Governance Board and Data Advisory Committee to guide City data policy. The Data Governance Board monitors and evaluates the forces driving change to provide data management strategies that satisfy the City's evolving business needs. Members of the Data Advisory Committee serve as subject-matter experts, managing the City's data assets, researching best practices and making recommendations on policies, standards, and initiatives.
The Data Governance Board, facilitated by the DAP team, developed a strategic plan to address the shortcomings of current data management practices that are established and managed at the department level. The plan establishes a path towards removing silos between departments and fostering data sharing.
“The goal of our strategic plan is to provide direction on how to overcome our data obstacles and create an environment of continuous improvement,” said Thomas. “The plan allows for experimentation, innovation and a bit of risk/failure without losing momentum and growth. Most importantly, it facilitates an environment where data is developed and organized so it serves more than one department.”
With the strategic plan adopted in April 2018, the City Manager next formed an inter-departmental Performance Management Committee in May. The Committee’s charge was to prepare a proposal to formalize the long-term future of the pilot program and broaden its scope to include:
Improving the connectivity of the existing performance management system with budget development, human resource management and data analytics;
Directing, supporting, and monitoring business process improvements and change management as well as ongoing departmental needs for improvement;
Incubating new or innovative ways of solving problems;
Improving the quality and consistency of citywide project management;
Positioning the City toward an open data environment.
The Performance Management Committee met regularly from June through August 2018 to evaluate options for organizational structure, roles, and responsibilities. Committee members interviewed key staff from seven cities with analytics/performance management programs across the country. Based on the Performance Management Committee’s recommendation, the City Manager announced the creation of the Office of Performance Management in October 2018.
"Creating a centralized structure that allows resources to be deployed more efficiently and uses data and strategic thinking in aligning results and performance metrics to our strategic plan will keep us focused in times of high expectations and limited resources. Ultimately, this effort will help the City think differently about how we operate, becoming a more customer-focused and strategically aligned organization with data and technology solutions to help us get there," said King.
A yet-to-be-hired Chief Innovation Officer who will report directly to the City Manager will lead the Office of Performance Management. The new CIO role, together with the forthcoming Office of Performance Management, will position the City of Bend to more wisely use resources, be more transparent and better serve its citizens.
Pamela J. Stroebel Powers, CPA, MBA, CIA, CRMA, CPM
Why She Does What She Does…
Pam has always enjoyed numbers and as early as high school felt drawn to the field of accounting. In college, when exploring career options, she thought she only had two choices as a future CPA – taxes or auditing. The idea of doing taxes for the rest of her life did not excite her, so she chose the audit path. Her Grandmother had worked for the State of Oregon, so when she saw an opportunity to join the Secretary of State’s Audits Division she jumped at the chance. She started with 13 other recent graduates and eager beginning auditors, and learned her first day on the job that as an auditor, she shouldn’t come to work to ‘get her loving.’ However, over the years she has learned how to market audit services as a benefit to management.
Four years into her career she transferred from external auditing at the Secretary of State’s office to the internal audit office of the Department of Transportation. As an internal auditor, she had the opportunity to provide information to management on whether programs are operating as intended, whether internal controls are in place to mitigate the most significant risks and operating effectively, and to look for opportunities for process improvement. She appreciates the opportunity to provide insight into programs that support the citizens of the State of Oregon. She enjoys getting to know public employees and learning why they are passionate about their positions and what they do for the State, in order to focus her audit efforts on improving performance. Little did she know that her career would shift her focus from pure financial analysis to assisting agencies in developing processes to provide services more efficiently and effectively. Pam is passionate about the benefits of performance auditing and enjoys sharing that passion with others!
Pam is a contributing faculty member at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management. She teaches Auditing and Forensic Accounting/Fraud Examination in the early-career MBA program, and Accounting for Managers and Process Improvement/LEAN in the Certificate of Public Management program.
Pam is also the owner and managing member of Powers CPA, LLC which she established in 2014. Her firm provides internal audit, consulting and assurance services to state and local government and non-profit entities.
Pam’s Professional Background…
Prior to starting her own firm, Pam served as the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) for both the Oregon Lottery and the Department of Administrative Services (DAS). Her role as CAE at DAS included both managing the internal audit function as well as providing support and leadership to the internal audit community across the State of Oregon; she did this in part by coordinating the Statewide Audit Advisory Committee and co-facilitating the State’s Chief Audit Executive Council.
Prior to her position at DAS, Pam began a single-person internal audit function for the Oregon Department of Forestry where she managed the program for three years. Before that, she spent four years as a Senior Internal Auditor with the Oregon Department of Transportation. She began her career auditing for the State of Oregon with four years at the Secretary of State’s Audits Division where she performed external audits of several state agencies including the Department’s of Human Services, Transportation, Revenue, and the Oregon State Fair.
A Little About Her Personally…
Pam earned her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Western Baptist College in 1995 and her MBA from Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management in January 2016. She also holds Certifications in Public Accounting, Internal Auditing, and Risk Management Assurance. She is a graduate of Leadership Oregon, has earned the designation of Competent Toastmaster, and graduated from Willamette University’s Certificate of Public Management program in June 2011.
In her off hours, Pam enjoys spending time with her family. When time allows she enjoys scrapbooking, walking her bulldog Missy, biking, kayaking, hiking or playing trivia with friends. Pam currently serves as the Treasurer for the Keizer Community Library. She can also be found helping her husband at their Wilsonville, Oregon business, “All Things Aquariums”.
Please join OPPIA for its Fall Lunch and Learn. Pamela Stroebel will lead a discussion called "Using Auditing as a Tool to Enhance Performance.
The Lunch and Learn is on Thursday, November 15, 2018, from 12 PM - 1 PM at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, 100 High Street SE, Suite 200, Salem, OR.
To register and learn more about the event click here.