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Performance Measures: Leading The Way to Success in Your Organization

By Heather Bray
June 7, 2021

Performance measures have received a lot of attention in the last few years. When thinking of them, most tend to think of Performance measures being used to gather data and track activity, however, the real challenge comes when trying to use Performance Measures to lead and make decisions, adjustments, or take corrective actions. Many organizations, including the Government Finance Officers Association, expect entities to use performance measures, not just for data but also as an integral part of the organization's decision-making process.  After all, isn't that that we all want our organization to be? 

So, how do you make a successful organization? One that truly leads the way for future success and leads with a plan versus reacts to every situation after the fact? Check out some recommendations on how to help you build a successful organization in the future.

How to create successful performance measures for your organization?

Everything begins with strategy, you needstrategy to move forward into being a leading organization.  The strategy gives your organization a solid base on which to build your measures. The data gathered from performance measures should be integral to your organization's decision-making process.  By using performance measures correctly you will not just measure items, but begin to truly lead based on the analysis from the measures.  

When developing measures you need to identify not just widgets but the whole package.  For measures to help lead they need to be operational and managerial, helping to lead policy-making and thus leading the organization to better help the audience they are intending to reach.

When creating your measures GFOA recommends the organization: 1. IDENTIFY, 2. TRACK, 3.COMMUNICATE

By doing these three it will help to monitor:

  •  Financial and Budgetary Status
  • Service Delivery 
  • Program Outcomes 
  • Community Conditions

 This will help your organization to lead by using the measures and to begin using the measures for performance-based budgeting.  

However, let’s jump back a bit.  While we are developing measures that will help lead, we need to look at the core function of the organization and what we need to solve based on whom we are serving.  Once we have that base completed we can begin setting measures to accomplish the short-term and long-term goals of the organization.  By using these correctly, the data and analytics gathered will allow management to make long-term and short-term decisions about the direction of the organization and the funding needed to get it to the level desired. 

Without taking into account the full range of why we use measures, they can be nothing more than a data pit.  For instance, operational measures may be used by the field supervisor to decide how to divide crews that day or what we can do or need to do to accomplish the short-term goal.  Upper management might use these same measures to help sway the government body or elicit assistance from the outside to fund certain priorities or to highlight accomplishments or needs of these priorities.  If your organization has a higher body it reports to, it can be most helpful to link all your measures to the higher body's term plan.  This will show how your organization is affecting the overall plan.  This can be very helpful during budget times and when you are needing to highlight certain areas.  Without your strategy and measure plan, you can be left dry when the questions start coming and the proof is being requested.

How can I apply this to my organization?


The Performance Institute has several training sessions that can assist you in making your organization into a leading organization. By following the strategy and performance measures outlined in a week long class, you will walk away being able to do this for your organization or program. If you are interested in learning more about performance measures and building a strategic organization into the future, join us in one of our week long classes on strategic planning and performance measures. This week long class features classes that will begin to build your organization into one that leads into the future and will help build a strong long term base for your organization.

About the author

Heather Bray

Heather has more than 19 years of experience in the government sector. She started performance management and strategic planning 17 years ago while working in the budget office. Since then she has focused her performance management efforts inside the Public Works department, bringing them from measuring random items to measuring outcomes.

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