Performance Analysis Crucial to Social Program Delivery - Report
11 February 2015 at 10:07 am
Investment in performance management systems and their analysts is urgently needed by social services organisations as the impact of innovative models like social impact bonds, collective impact and outcomes based contracts take hold, new research reveals.
A new report, jointly published by Social Investment Lab in Portugal, Impetus-PEF in the UK and Think Impact in Australia, says organisations must make a greater investment in administrative and back office capabilities to continue to make progress.
Delivering the Promise of Social Outcomes: the Role of the Performance Analyst is an international collection of stories, featuring people who have successfully applied social service data to help executives make decisions, managers support their staff and enable service delivery staff to improve the lives of their clients.
Written by Sydney-based social impact analyst Emma Tomkinson, the report contradicts one view of social programs which is that administrative spending should be trimmed. Instead, it argues for greater investment in back office capabilities.
Tomkinson said she initially set out to discover what made a perfect case management IT system. But as her interviews progressed, it became apparent that key to successful social service organisations were the relationships between its performance analysts and service delivery staff.
The report shows how the newly emerging role of the social performance analyst can help make data on social programs much more meaningful and useful.
“Over and over again, people told stories about the positive feedback loops created between stakeholders, rather than the answers provided by their IT system,” she said. “What struck me was how insufficient our analytical capacity is as a sector. If we are serious about continuous evaluation and improvement, then we don’t just need good IT systems, we need people to make them relevant,” Tomkinson said.
Daniel Miodovnik, from UK Not for Profit Social Finance, one of the performance analysts featured in the report, said: “It’s not enough to say we’ve provided support to 60 per cent of the people on our services.”
“We need to identify the 40 per cent who didn’t access or take advantage of the program, understand why, and have strong enough relationships with delivery staff to discuss the reasons and change the service.”
The report highlights three key trends on why investing in performance management systems and their analysts is urgently needed:
Outcome based contracts, where service delivery organisations are paid on the basis of the social outcomes they achieve, are proliferating
Social Benefit Bonds, where investor returns are dependent on the social outcomes achieved by the programs they invest in, are increasingly emerging
The idea of ‘collective impact’ is rapidly gaining traction due to its requirement that organisations collaborate to deliver social outcomes.
CEO of Impetus – PEF, Daniela Barone Soares, said she hoped Delivering the Promise of Social Outcomes would inspire CEOs and boards to take seriously, and invest in, performance management.
“As this report shows, the work of the analyst is special, and specialised. But what the work represents is a commitment to accountability and impact which should be central to any social organisation, from the boardroom to the frontline,” Barone Soares said.
The report can be read and downloaded at http://deliveringthepromise.org/