A performance measurement system provides a process and a framework for organizations to collect and make use of data about their programs and operations. This toolkit provides 

  • a flexible outline that works for government and community providers
  • an approach to streamline your current measurement efforts, 
  • tools to provide  actionable data and a picture of your agency's functioning as a whole. 

A performance measurement system can meet funder requirements, and help you make data-informed decisions. This toolkit walks through the steps for developing a performance measurement system, and introduces a set of quality improvement tools which support innovation. 

Why performance measures are important:

  • Help set performance goals
  • Help deliver desired results
  • Help improve results
  • Help refine strategies
  • Help build community support
  • Better provide quality services. 

An essential question in considering the impact of services and programs is whether communities of color benefit equally from these interventions. Often programs communicate the impact of their programs as averages, or 'for a typical client'. But these outcomes don't describe the experience of people of color, who often face unequal access to services, lower quality of services as well as poorer outcomes. The collection of client demographic data supports the disaggregation of performance measure data, to uncover possible access or outcome inequities. The toolkit focuses on building a performance measurement system that evaluates the effectiveness of programs or services, but this is just one level of review. The Equity and Empowerment Lens makes clear that racial justice must be present in the allocation of resources, program and system planning as well as evaluation. These are beyond the scope of this first iteration of the toolkit. We encourage everyone to learn and apply the Lens to program planning, design, decision-making and implementation. Our discussion here is an effort to bring a racial equity focus to evaluation, through the implementation of a performance measurement system which includes meaningful engagement of communities of color and a systematic and regular review of the experience of our communities. Each step in the toolkit includes suggestions for strategies that may create a more equitable performance measure system.  

The Performance Measurement Cycle

  • Mission and vision of success: The mission articulates an organization’s purpose, and a vision of success describes how the world will be different if the organization succeeds in carrying out its mission. The mission and vision of success work together to guide an organization’s activities and operations.
  • Activities and operations: Activities are any programs, services, and initiatives run by an organization. Operations are the organizational infrastructure that supports these activities, including human resources, technology, and financial management. Together, activities and operations constitute everything an organization does to carry out its mission and realize its vision of success. The performance measurement cycle starts and ends with an organization’s activities and operations, as it continually moves through the following phases. 
  • Measure: Organizations operating performance measurement systems use indicators, metrics that are tracked regularly, to assess their activities and supporting operations.
  • Report: To compile performance measurement data into a format that is easy to analyze, organizations can use two main types of reporting tools:

    • A dashboard includes a focused selection of indicators to provide periodic snapshots of the organization’s overall progress in relation to past results and future goals. All performance measurement systems should include a management dashboard, which enables an organization’s leadership team to track overall organizational performance. Many organizations also choose to create program-level dashboards to track individual programs or internal areas, such as marketing or human resources, at a more detailed level.

    • A report card contains highlights from an organization’s internal dashboards and facilitates sharing data externally with social impact investors and other stakeholders. This external reporting tool helps to establish account- ability with social impact investors.

  • Learn: Using the reporting tools listed above, an organization’s leadership and other key staff members review and interpret performance data in order to make well-informed decisions and identify opportunities for improvement and necessary course corrections.
  • Improve: The organization implements its decisions to improve its activities and operations. From there, the performance measurement cycle begins again.