Posted tagged ‘performance indicators’

Smack my bench up

February 22, 2012

Well, a picture of an actual benchmark would be really dull

We’ve all been there; when trying to defend the performance / budget / branding / future direction of our service the boss has turned round and said something along the lines of: ‘how does that compare to our neighbours; what’s the benchmark?’

Thus begins another tedious, and absolutely pointless, round of comparison with local councils followed by an equally tedious, and equally pointless, round of explanations as to why the comparisons are actually not a good match with our local context.

I hate benchmarking!

I think it is a weakness of the human condition to constantly want to compare ourselves to others and in local government this inclination is fully played out in the world of performance benchmarking.

For the uninitiated, benchmarking involves comparing the performance of your service/local authority with that of another local authority. The measure you use to do this can come in a variety of different forms and there are whole armies of staff, brought up on a steady diet of performance targets under the last Labour Government to crunch these numbers and produce some sort of comparative figure.

So why is benchmarking a bad idea?


In Defence of Performance Figures

October 27, 2010


LG Worker to the rescue


I recently wrote a post trashing performance indicators: LG Worker responded in the comments section and so I invited him/her to write a post in defence of performance indicators… And, as if by magic: here it is!

When I first joined Local Government, several Authorities and several years ago, I had a 1 to 1 with a Colleague I saw more as a mentor.  As we sat in the local pub (after work I hasten to add), he turned to me and said, ‘Young Padawan, to progress your career, you should get some Performance Management experience.’  This statement was geeky in two ways.  The first was the reference to Star Wars, as far as I knew I was not a Jedi who had ‘the Force.’   The second was the reference to Performance.

As I was relatively new to Local Government and really to the world of work, I had no real understanding of what Performance was.  The title gave clues but not the full picture.  Anyway, soon after I found myself in the Council’s Performance Team.  Within six months of being there, I could not see the point of my work (how did it connected with the residents?) and had badly messed up a big project.  As this project crashed around me, I decided I needed to take a break and reassess my options.

In the long weekend I took, instead of deciding to give Performance up, I had an epiphany and saw not only how important Performance is but also how it linked back to our ultimate bosses, the residents.  In this period were Performance Indicators are being thrown out (I hear the usual bloggers of this site cheering), I want to defend them and show you why they are a tool we should be holding on to.

Their defence is provided by the four things they help provide; monitoring, accountability, benchmarking and partnership.


Abolishing the Performance Indicators

October 14, 2010

Abolished Quangos and indicators in the morning; now, what's for lunch?

Eric Pickles has announced that he will be abolishing all Local Area Agreements (LAA) and the National Indicator data set.

(Obviously, the flip side of this is that he is also abolishing the grants that went with meeting those LAA targets.)

In the place of the national indicators the Government will ask for local government to prepare and submit a series of different data sets.

The assumption here is that it is not the collection of the data that puts unnecessary costs on Local Government but the bending of services to meet the targets and the number crunching that follows to turn the data into performance indicators. A lot will depend on how simple Mr Pickles data requests will be.

I reckon that the savings from not collecting these targets will be smaller than Mr Pickles believes but that this symbolises a welcome retreat by the central government. Whether local government can rise to the challenge is an open question especially in times Osbourne enacted cuts but for the first time in a long time this offers local government a fighting chance to innovate and plough their own furrow in response to specific local needs.