Magazine article Government Finance Review

Technology Tools for Performance Management

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Technology Tools for Performance Management

Article excerpt

Why is technology important to successful performance management?

One of the most commonly noted obstacles to implementing an effective performance management system is the difficulty in obtaining, managing, and analyzing performance data. Performance information is often unavailable, or worse overwhelming. If systems to organize and analyze performance data are not developed in advance, boxes of raw data can sit unanalyzed and unutilized.

In fact in a series of interviews of state government executives conducted by Accenture, the executives indicated that the lack of supporting technology was the second most important roadblock to the successful implementation of performance management systems.' Unlike financial information, the operational information necessary for successful performance management is usually decentralized among operation departments. As illustrated in Exhibit 1, data may be collected in systems ranging from sophisticated customer relationship management systems, fleet management systems, emergency response systems, and work order management systems to simple desktop databases, spreadsheets, and even manual tick marks on a note pad.

Collecting, integrating, understanding, and using such diverse data represents a significant challenge for any organization. However, it is a challenge that many organizations are taking up. A recent survey of more than 1,300 private and public sector CIOs completed by Gartner EXP indicated that business intelligence will be the top technology priority for 2006.2 Industry analysts predict that investments in technology designed to integrate and analyze key business data will continue to grow, with the business analytics market alone reaching $3 billion annually by 2009.3

KEY BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY

What benefits do business and government agencies hope to achieve through these technology investments? While the reasons for implementing technology are as unique as the organizations making the implementations, many of the more common reasons are summarized below:

1. More Efficient Data Input. Decentralized performance measurement systems that are not integrated can be labor intensive and require multiple data-entry points. Automation and integration of these systems can reduce workload, improve accuracy, and provide an electronic audit trail.

2. Automated Work Flows. Relying on e-mail attachments or interdepartmental mail reduces the reliability and timeliness of performance measurement data. In organizations trying to use performance measurement data to make real-time adjustments to operations, automated work flows can help keep the data flowing on schedule.

3. Improved Analytical and Forecasting Capabilities. While the use of simple descriptive statistics can be extremely valuable, more advanced organizations are looking to expand their capabilities to include statistical modeling and trend analysis.

4. Collaboration. Even the most relevant performance data is underutilized if it is contained within organizational silos. Sharing information among departments and even community groups and citizens can encourage collaboration and the development of creative solutions to complex problems.

When technology solutions are implemented to achieve the benefits listed above, performance management can transform organizations. In its recent report grading the states, the Government Performance Project cited the recent success of one government agency:

"The Department of Environmental Conservation in New York can now capture data on air quality with technology that didn't exist in previous years. …

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