Part IV: How to Become a High Performing Organization? Data
Bojan Cubela is the Director of Workforce Strategy at Social Solutions. He helps Government agencies improve program performance measurement and overcome challenges with data interoperability tools.
Bojan was recently interviewed about a wide variety of Workforce Development agency topics. We will be releasing portions of this interview in a multi part series highlighting several Workforce Development discussions.
In part 3 of this interview, Bojan discussed the importance of having the correct workforce development reporting software. Today, we will be discussing how ETO software morphs an ordinary organization into a high performing organization driven by data.
Interviewer: What is a data dashboard and how can it help make an ordinary organization a high performing organization?
Bojan: Sure, by implementing our software, managers and directors have these dashboards where they can see a real time performance data of their entire enterprise. Having a quick view of this real time data is a huge benefit, with the simple click of a button the data feeding into the dashboard is refreshed.
Dashboards like these all boil down to efficiency, which is a crucial element of being a high performing organization.
Interviewer: Do you have any examples of what you refer to as a “high performing organization”?
Bojan:We have a client that is an excellent example, the Milwaukee Workforce Investment Board.
Milwaukee, as a Workforce Investment Board, decided five or six years ago to become a performance oriented, data driven, high performing organization. They felt accessible data would not only inform them on how well they do, but the data will also help them persuade other funders to support their cause financially.
The big picture here is that the Workforce Investment Act, WIA (where program funding comes from), is giving out less and less money each year. On top of that, the need for workforce services employees is growing every year since their is a serious skills gap. This widening skills gap and access to little funding pushed the Milwaukee Workforce Investment Board to become a high performing organization driven by data.
The Milwaukee Workforce Investment Board decided they need to be very competitive regarding the way they deliver services, but also the way in which they spend funding. They wanted additional sources of funding for their agency to combine and bundle with WIA so they could make a larger overall impact.
“they needed to not only get better at what they do, but they needed the data to back up their improved performance”
In order to do this they needed to demonstrate they’re a high performing organization. How can you quantitatively demonstrate that your an effective organization? With performance management software. They bought ETO as a result. They needed to not only get better at what they do, but they needed the data to back up their improved performance. ETO software was the solution.
“six years later, they’ve doubled their income as an agency, they went from $9 million to $22 million”
Now, fast forward six years later, they’ve doubled their income as an agency, they went from $9 million to $22 million. Their dependence on WIA funds went from 80% to 40%. These are the kinds of powerful metrics that make up a high performing organization.
Keep in mind these were years where everyone was losing money, funding was down. When everyone else was losing money these guys doubled the funding. They’re servicing twice as many people, they have 70 service providers as opposed to 19. This is a perfect example of how you become a high performance organization.
Interviewer: That truly is impressive. Back to this reporting thing, because I agree with you. I think that would be a topic of high interest. Who is the buying team, if you will? I guess there’s a program director. What are their titles? There’s probably an IT guy involved. Who are the different people involved in the purchasing decisions?
Bojan: Typically the IT people are the least involved.
The CFO is usually the primary decision maker. What am i buying? Where is the money going? What is my money getting me in terms of performance? When an organization spends money on something, are they getting a return on their investment?
These are the kinds of things on the CFO’s mind. The CFO is very important at the state level. The people involved with the program and the program directors are also involved because they require the performance data and use it daily.
Its worth noting that the reports themselves are usually late. Unemployment insurance kicks in months and months later sometimes 12 to 18 months later. You only learn 12 months later that you actually didn’t need your numbers 12 months earlier, right?
“Waiting that long doesn’t work, you have to have a way, in realtime, to understand your performance”
Waiting that long doesn’t work, you have to have a way, in realtime to understand your performance. You need to know whether or not your numbers are adding up and your moving in the right direction.
Lets use recruitment as an example.
If you have to fill two openings you need to recruit 10 people, in order to fill the position correctly. But if you have only two people in your pipeline, you’re not going to meet it. ETO software can help actually with some of the projections.
Interviewer: So you have to wait 12-18 months to get feedback right? Sounds like reporting, in general, is a painful process.
Bojan: Yes. Sometimes it’s shorter. Sometimes it’s longer, but almost in all states that is an issue, that the locals, the Workforce Investment Boards who are accountable for performance need more real time data. The ETO software, unlike other systems, allows them to do that. And yes, performance reporting is a major pain if you don’t have the correct tools at your disposal.
Want more detail on how to become a high performing organization? Check out our case study on the Milwaukee Workforce Investment Board.
Coming Up on Part V:
- The value in dashboards that aggregate across multiple systems
- Use of evidence based funding models
See the previous posts in the series.