When the Department of Human Services embarked on its Continuous Quality Improvement initiative in 2009, the idea was to refocus the way we approach program management. We were transitioning from being process-oriented – measuring the raw amount of work being done and how efficiently we accomplished it – to being outcome-oriented, where the bottom line became: Are our efforts resulting in better results for our clients?
Staff at all levels can now clearly articulate each program’s purpose and intended results. With explicit purpose statements and measures that clearly let us know if people are better off as a result of our services, we can be clear with ourselves and our stakeholders about each program’s intended results.
We are using data and results to guide decisions. We track the important data, and regularly report the program performance measures to internal management. Through this process, we can identify causes for celebration and opportunities for improvement. Measuring performance serves both purposes. It lets everyone know when things are going right – celebrate and stay the course!! And it lets everyone know when a course needs correction. Decisions to make adjustments can be made earlier in the process because we have current, objective data.
We can communicate more clearly about program performance. We now have a common language and a focus on key concepts. Our managers and staff know the key concepts of performance measurement and how those concepts are applied to assessing how their programs are performing.
Outcome-based, data-driven decision-making is becoming part of the fabric of the agency.