A group of 10 Scottish councils has implemented a joint performance management system within six months, helping them to meet service standards set nationally.
The system has allowed the councils to present performance-related information in a consistent format, focus resources where they are most needed, get early warning of failing services, reduce the burden of reporting and set up benchmarks to share best practice.
The system, which measures performance in housing benefit departments, also helped the councils monitor performance interdependencies and measure the impact of new initiatives designed to improve performance.
The consortium of councils, from southern and eastern Scotland, found that although they had been improving performance, the methods and processes to measure this were fragmented and not always aligned with strategic priorities.
National performance management frameworks helped the councils create the same measures of performance, and via a cross-council design authority, build a final framework for councils to measure performance.
From the outset the consortium aimed to create measurable performance improvement without increasing work for housing benefit and IT departments.
The councils chose a web-based hosted system because it could be rolled out across the consortium without the need for major hardware investment within each authority. It also offered users secure access to performance data from any internet access point.
The performance assessment system was built and is hosted by supplier AspireView. The system extracts data from multiple back-office systems and uses common XML schema based on Department for Work and Pensions guides. Other data is captured in a semi-automated fashion, via e-mail to a designated updater.
Within six months, the system was delivered across 10 local authorities and all 150 users required training. Face-to-face training tailored to individual roles was supplemented by computer-based training to allow any new users to be trained on the system or current users to be refreshed.
One person from each authority received a range of training including change management, performance management and a high level of system training, as well as personal coaching twice a week to support the implementation process.
The project has now secured further funding from the Department for Work and Pensions to increase its scope. The consortium plans to increase its range to cover 27 councils with representatives from England and Wales. It also plans electronic reporting to the Department for Work and Pensions and to bring all back-office system suppliers into the project.
After reviewing the project, the consortium said the main lesson learned was to agree an action plan from each participating local IT department for their role in ensuring the automated process could be efficiently implemented.
- Dundee City Council
- East Ayrshire Council
- East Renfrewshire Council
- East Lothian Council
- Renfrewshire Council
- North Ayrshire Council
- North Lanarkshire Council
- Midlothian Council
- West Lothian Council
- Scottish Borders Council