How is your program going… really? Performance monitoring
Monitoring and managing the performance of a program is an integral part of program management. This blog helps you identify the factors you need to consider when developing a performance management framework.
When we talk about performance monitoring we’re referring to the continuous, systematic collection of data. Done well, this gives you an ongoing indication of how well your program is doing.
Performance monitoring helps you to:
- track progress against the program’s aims and objectives
- ensure the program delivers the right outcomes
- account for the efficient and effective use of funding
- identify improvement opportunities
Ongoing monitoring will help you to identify any areas not performing to expectations and determine whether any adjustments to the program are required.
Performance management framework
Establishing a solid performance management framework (one that’s closely aligned with the organisation’s strategic goals, and is rigorous and transparent) will help you to monitor the performance of your program where and when you need it.
Most performance management frameworks typically consist of some or all of the activities below:
Here’s what you need to consider when developing the four areas above:
Your organisation’s existing governance mechanisms provide a good starting point when establishing performance monitoring for a specific program.
Start by reviewing existing governance arrangements (this may be all that is required for some programs) then look to align your program with them, and / or develop additional governance mechanisms.
Make sure you’re aware of any existing governance arrangements such as:
- executive management groups
- personnel reporting relationships
- financial reporting
- annual reports
- steering committees
- advisory groups
- contractual or grant reporting requirements
- role descriptions and accountabilities for specific programs
By aligning your monitoring content and reporting frequency with these structures, you’ll enable these groups and individuals to make decisions easily and in a balanced manner.
Successful performance measurement is all about developing and using performance measures that are appropriate to your organisation and program.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great place to start. Here’s how:
Ask yourself: what aspects of the program need to be measured? (Hint: your program theory provides a good starting point.) Don’t forget to focus on the outcomes expected as well as the activities that are delivered.
Ensure every KPI is:
- well-defined, relevant and informative: does it tell you something important about how the program is performing?
- something that can be influenced by the program: avoid performance measures that can be heavily influenced by outside factors
- based on data that is available and cost-effective
- comparable with a benchmark or previous results: you will need a comparable starting point in order to track whether you’re improving
Creating a performance management framework involves not only generating performance information, but also using this information in decision-making. This includes identifying performance that does not meet expectations and acting on opportunities to improve.
Reporting the progress and performance of a program involves documenting how well the program’s objectives are being met and sharing this information through appropriate feedback and governance channels.
Reporting should provide sufficient detail to inform decision-making, without going into information overload. In order to provide an accurate picture of the program’s performance, your data should always be credible, impartial and relevant.
It’s important to select the right reporting format for the group that will be reading it. Here’s what you need to consider in order to get this right:
- Who needs to be aware of the results?
- What results do they need to know about?
- How often does the data need to be reported?
- What’s the best way to communicate the results?