How Government Agencies Can Harness the Power of Performance Analytics

How Government Agencies Can Harness the Power of Performance Analytics

In the government space, performance can be challenging to quantify, as different departments and initiatives have different goals—some internal, some constituent-facing. Determining what success looks like is important, though, as it enables performance analytics: data-driven assessments about key performance indicators (KPIs) and their trends over time.

In some jurisdictions, the analytics department plays an auxiliary role, helping other agencies and departments determine what KPIs are important, then building relevant dashboards for them through Tableau or other platforms. This is true for the City of Boston, for instance. One such dashboard offers local leaders KPIs related to snow removal, including numbers of open resident complaints and unplowed streets.

For the Maryland Aviation Administration, performance analytics include metrics for 35 offices across 8 divisions. That means KPIs span three levels: the office level, the division level, and the enterprise level. At the office level, managers can track performance over time. At the division level, stakeholders can visualize trends related to citations, inspections, and incidents.

Unsurprisingly, the use of performance analytics varies tremendously by jurisdiction. Let’s look at a few tips to follow if you’re just getting started with performance analytics.

Start simple

For agencies that are brand-new to performance analytics, starting with simple KPIs is the way to go. To measure overall user satisfaction, for instance, start by simply measuring views on a particular dashboard or application. This will give you a good sense of how many decision-makers or constituents are using the solution. With this information, you can gain a better sense of a variety of factors, including the user-friendliness of the application, how long people are using it and when, and so forth.

Collecting and analyzing even the simplest metrics can help you offer a way quantify how data-driven your agency’s culture is. By monitoring how much and how often people are using key technologies, you’ll get a sense of how savvy they are when it comes to using certain tools. Lack of or limited use could indicate the need for further training and education around the benefits of particular tools.

Get granular

Of course, conceptual projects, in which KPIs feel elusive, are inevitable. In such cases, agencies should get as granular as possible with their KPIs.

For example, perhaps the measure of success is simply project completion: How many projects do you expect to complete and in what conditions? A granular KPI may read something like this: “Our goal is to complete two projects this quarter, given there is no staff turnover or unforeseen emergencies.”

Other granular KPIs could include task completion rates, the percentage of tasks being automated, and budget ratios.

Be agile

KPIs are particularly important in government because they can offer continuity in the face of employee turnover or administration changes. Still, relevant metrics are likely to evolve along with your organization.

As you determine useful KPIs, discuss how they might change over time—and why. For example, community health requirements and metrics might change based on disease surveillance, the environment, or changing Social Determinants of Health.

Regularly reviewing KPIs is the only way to ensure they remain in-line with shifting operational strategies. That requires balancing consistency with flexibility, which is critical for getting the most out of your data.

Consider quality

The term “garbage in, garbage out” is a cliché for a reason. It speaks to the fact that any kind of analytics is only as good as the data that underlies it, which is why it’s also important to consider metrics around data quality and security.

For the former, many states, like Massachusetts, have agencies that have established clear-cut data standards (as well as assisting with data analysis and visualization). Even if your state does not, at minimal you should consider KPIs around seemingly innocuous things—how many rows are missing or incorrect, for example, or how much of your data is outdated or redundant. These may seem inconsequential, but they can have a huge impact on the quality of your output.

To track security, consider a metric like how many support tickets come through from your Security Operations Center (SOC), or the number of suspicious activities detected on your organization’s servers. These metrics don’t have to be complicated, but they can be helpful in supporting the mission of your agency and state initiatives like the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, which focuses heavily on developing the cybersecurity industry in that state. In any case, security metrics must be considered, especially as you strive to protect your constituents’ data.

The bottom line

Performance analytics is particularly important for state and local agencies, as quantifying the success of government programs can play a leading role in the allocation of funds and resources. Put simply, without KPIs, it’s impossible to know where to put your money or your effort. Without this knowledge, your citizen services will inevitably suffer.

With this information, you’ll be able to ensure your services are running smoothly and continuously being improved. That’ll result in better outcomes in both the short- and long-terms for your agency and citizens.

-Voyatek Leadership Team