For organizations accepting funding through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and state agencies overseeing WIA distributions, performance management is a key component to success. Because all data collection and workforce reporting systems have different features, some are better suited for WIA-related initiatives than others.
In our ongoing 6-part series, we’re examining the key features you need to look for as you choose a system to help manage your WIA-based initiatives and programs:
This time, our focus is on data sharing and interoperability.
Interoperability Shows You the Bigger Picture
At the state level, monitoring the effectiveness and coverage of multiple programs is paramount to success. Even on the local level, understanding where your services fit into the landscape of offerings can be instrumental in planning and decision making. The degree to which your performance management software facilitates data sharing will directly impact your ability to deliver workforce development services efficiently.
Whether you’re tracking service delivery and results, looking for best practice opportunities, or providing reports to state and federal inspectors (as well potential investors), the performance management software you use should include features that promote easy, efficient data sharing.
Here are the basics of data sharing and interoperability that should be built into your performance management software:
Because a great deal of important information comes from outside your organization, the performance management software you use must provide the ability to import data from other programs. Comparing data from multiple sources can help you assure that there are no gaps or overlaps in the services being provided in your region, especially when you compare your results to those with similar services and populations.
Are your services necessary? Do they need to be bolstered, or replaced? By being able to easily import comparable data, an agency can find opportunities for improving its performance, gaps in service offerings or even find instances of potential abuse.
Data Import Case Study: While it’s not specifically workforce development related, one group that we worked with showed us a great example of the need for data imports. By importing external files, they uncovered a case of “double dipping” where participants were receiving identical services from more than one organization.
Whether the cause was fraud, or simply a situation where initial providers’ programs were inadequate to meet the participants needs, this is a real problem for social services organizations. Data sharing allowed this group to identify and correct the issue. The fix allowed funds to be reallocated to service areas that greatly needed them and more clients could receive crucial services that the group provided.
Access for Third Parties
Your team is not the only group that needs to access your data for success. Your performance management software can improve your services by allowing external third parties to access your performance data easily. Look for tools that accomplish this through:
- Data exports
- Multi-user systems
Most federal grants, including WIA-related funding, include an evaluation component. When those evaluators have easy access to pull performance information, it eliminates hassles for the agency being evaluated. That means your staff can spend considerably less time providing information to evaluators.
Streamlined data sharing assures the availability of more precise, accurate and relevant information for regulators and investors (in pay-for-success programs) alike, making a stronger case for your organization’s accountability when it is looking for funding in a competitive environment.
Multiple Reporting Options
While not strictly WIA-related, your performance management software system should natively support the ability to create multiple data sharing outputs as needed. This is especially true for programs supported by multiple grants or federal funding programs that need to report in a number of different ways, and on different metrics. Your organization supports more than just WIA-required programs, and your software systems should too.
Data Sharing and Interoperability Creates an Environment of Support and Cooperation
Data sharing isn’t just for generating status reports to third parties. The benefits of true data sharing (input and output) run both ways. Third parties get the accountability they rely on to make regulatory or investment decisions and local agencies benefit by having immediate access to external information.
The more you can share, the more you can know. And the more you know, the more your agency can improve day-to-day performance and even overall program goals and targets.
– There are several features of your performance management systems that make reporting for WIA programs easier.
– Data Sharing/Interoperability is one of them.
– Importing data from external parties allows for an agency to see where its services fit into the entire community of workforce development offerings.
– Allowing 3rd party access grants regulators and auditors the ability to easily see the status of your program can lead to more funding in competitive environments.
– Programs that receive funding from multiple sources need to be able to report in multiple ways, and your performance management software should support them.
Social Solutions provides the performance management software that streamlines WIA reporting and allow social services organizations to monitor the efficiency and impact of their workforce development efforts.