John R. Allen
          Management Consulting


 

Services Provided

I. Training

A major service area we offer is training in performance measurement for government. Over the years we have presented hundreds of training sessions and trained thousands of managers and staff in Canada and the United States. There are three main categories of performance measurement training we provide.

How to Do It Workshops

These are one or two day sessions designed to teach government managers how to develop meaningful performance measurements for their own programs, and how to use performance measurements not only in accountability reporting but also in a variety of management processes including strategic planning, operational planning and control, program evaluation, manager's performance appraisal and resource allocation. The concepts are provided in simple, logical steps and are illustrated with many examples from real government programs. The workshop is very participative. Case studies, again drawn from real government programs, are used to provide participants with practice at applying the concepts they have learned.

An option many of clients select instead of case studies is to develop performance measures for participants' own programs right there in the workshop. This is a highly effective and efficient workshop because the participants not only gain the skills they need to develop and use performance measurement, but they also leave with a product of immediate practical value to them as managers. With most clients we also edit the work done during the workshop and prepare a report on workshop proceedings.

 

Implementation Workshops

These workshops are aimed at government staff who are responsible for implementing performance measurement on a department wide or government wide basis. They are two days in length. They cover the same topics presented in the Ahow to do it@ workshops, but in addition we address such issues as data collection, consulting with managers, training, implementation strategy and tactics. This workshop also uses many examples and case studies and is very participative.

Management Briefings and Conference Presentations

Briefings and presentations aimed at introducing public servants and elected officials to the concepts and uses of performance measurement are also available. They can range anywhere from twenty minutes to half a day in length. Participants learn the basics of how to develop performance measurements, but the primary focus is on how performance measurement can be used in a variety of practical applications. Again, examples are used to illustrate concepts. Some clients have used such presentations to kick off a government wide performance measurement initiative, ensuring all managers hear the same message.

We can also provide a training kit on performance measurement. This kit is meant for clients who will be using their own staff to deliver performance measurement training throughout the organization. The kit consists of a PowerPoint presentation, together with speaking notes for each slide, and instructions on how to organize and stage a workshop on performance measurement.

In addition we provide training on the following topics:

Business Planning. This course deals with all the subjects of strategic planning, but adds the rigour of performance measurement, results forecasting and budgeting in order to ensure a clear link between strategy and operations.

Benchmarking. This workshop teaches the fundamentals of designing and implementing a benchmarking initiative aimed at identifying and adopting best practices.

Balanced Scorecard. The balanced scorecard is an approach to performance measurement which was developed primarily for private sector firms. Therefore we typically recommend it for government owned corporations, public utilities and special operating agencies which are mandated to operate in the private sector. In concept it is very similar to the Program Logic Model, though, so we often adapt it to various government programs. We frequently provide training on the balanced scorecard, including workshops where participants develop a scorecard for their own programs.   

Obtaining Client Feedback. This workshop covers the fundamentals of survey research, focus groups, interviewing and other methods of determining what clients think about the performance of a government program, what they feel their needs are.  

Results Oriented Performance Appraisal. This two day workshop helps front line managers and supervisors in managing the performance of individuals who report directly to them.

 

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CONSULTING

Another major service is direct consulting to specific programs to assist them in designing and implementing performance measurement and results oriented management processes, including the design of data collection procedures and reporting processes. The techniques we employ will vary according to the needs and situations of the client, but can include internet and library research, document review and analysis, interviewing managers and staff, quantitative analysis and many other methods. However, we always aim for two features in any process we develop:

the process must be designed with management's needs in mind because the primary purpose of  any performance information system or management process must be to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service to the program's clients;

the costs of the process must be kept low both in terms of resources and managers' time,     so we try to develop a very concise set of performance measures, simple and straightforward procedures, and use existing data as much as possible.

We have assisted a wide variety of government clients in developing performance measurement processes, benchmarking, strategic and business planning processes, operational planning and control processes, and performance appraisal processes for managers and staff. In addition we have assisted clients in developing and enhancing sources of non-tax revenue.

Of course, most government organizations already have some form of performance reporting,  strategic or business planning, operational planning and control, and performance appraisal processes. But how rigorous are they really? Too often these processes are done simply to satisfy a central agency requirement. They are often paper exercises that have little real impact on program operations. We believe that to make a management process effective the use of performance measurement is essential. Without this precision there is no way of knowing the extent to which objectives are being accomplished, and thus where to direct attention and resources. Performance measurement ensures that management processes are results oriented.

 

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IMPLEMENTATION OF PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT

We have managed or played a central role in the design and implementation of many government wide or department wide performance measurement projects, most notably with the City of Toronto, the City of Seattle, Montgomery County in Maryland, the State of Oklahoma, the Province of Ontario, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Department of the Environment, the Ontario Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, and many others.

In the implementation of a government or department wide results measurement process, our work tends to fall into three categories:

First, we can help in the creation of an implementation plan which is thorough and oriented toward achieving "buy-in" by government managers. We believe that managers must perceive performance measurement as a tool which will directly help accomplish the goals of their own programs; accountability alone will not be sufficient motivation to sustain a performance measurement system. Therefore the implementation plan must anticipate every opportunity to get the performance indicators into use.

Second, we are able to assist in the design and development of the performance measurement process itself. The process should be documented in a concise way, in the form of a Performance Measurement Handbook, comprehensible to managers and illustrated with real government examples. It should address not only how performance measures can be developed, but also how they can be used in a variety of management processes.

Third, we can undertake any task identified in the implementation plan. This has normally included a training program aimed at government employees who will     themselves be responsible for implementing performance measurement within departments. Such a "train the trainers" workshop is important to ensure that the government has the capability of continuing to implement and maintain the performance measurement initiative without the consultant's help. We can also supply a training kit, mentioned in the previous section, so our clients can conduct their own training.

 

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PROGRAM EVALUATION  

Performance measurement is a means of evaluating, as well as planning and monitoring, program performance. However, ongoing performance measurement has limitations. 

To answer these questions properly requires program evaluation. Program evaluation refers to special, in-depth studies of program effectiveness. There are two main types of program evaluation. One type is known as Asummative@, which asks whether the program is still needed, whether it has been effective over time, whether there have been unintended consequences, and whether the program is the primary cause of the intended strategic outcomes. The other type of evaluation is called Aprocess@, which asks whether the program has been implemented as intended, and whether there may be alternative program delivery methods that might produce better results. Our team has an outstanding track record of conducting rigorous program evaluations which produce important and useful findings for our clients.

A related service we also offer is Program Review. This term has generally come to refer to studies which are specifically aimed at reducing government expenditure. When we undertake a program review we look for potential savings in the following areas:

  • Activities that could be done by the private sector. It is a mistake to think that the private sector is always more efficient than government, but the private sector is often free of some of the constraints government is subjected to, so it can often deliver faster and sometimes cheaper. As well, government can vary the amount of service it buys with greater ease than if a government work force is used.

  • Client service standards that clarify service level expectations. Such standards can often be set in cooperation with clients, and they can be very valuable in controlling expenditure. From an expenditure constraint standpoint, the real utility of setting client service standards is not so much in increasing client satisfaction as it is in managing client demand.

  • Activities that have revenue potential. Up until a few years ago it was common for government to underprice services or products it sold. This has changed greatly in all areas of non‑tax revenue, including fines and penalties. But there is still potential for more non‑tax revenue through increasing prices or charging for services never before priced. Moreover, we need to look at pricing not simply as cost recovery, but also as a method of cost control. If a service is free or underpriced, clients will use more of it, thus increasing government expenditure. But attaching a price, or a higher price, to a service will reduce utilization and thus reduce government spending.

  •  "Creaming". Government usually wants to treat every client equally, but some can be served at lower cost than others, or serving some clients will produce better program results for the same money.

  • Business process reengineering. Although many years of constraints have encouraged greater efficiency in government, opportunities remain to reduce unit production costs by scrutinizing work processes in detail.

  • Benchmarking. We in government have missed many chances to discover ways to save money or improve service by comparing our performance to the performance of other governments, and the private sector too. All too often a government program has avoided benchmarking by claiming that it would be comparing apples and oranges. But the whole point of benchmarking is not to develop a scorecard, it is to identify, and copy, best practices.

 

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