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Winter 2019 OPPIA Newsletter -- Featured Article

Strategic Planning & Performance Management

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[1]. 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 time-saving, 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 time-sheets.  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, sub-processes, 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!

______________________ [1] ODOT structure:  Agency > Division > Branch > Business Unit > Crew (Team) --Victoria Hawley, ODOT Central Services, Performance Excellence Team (Feb. 2019)

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