Budget-tightening and program accountability are trends in government funded programs that no agency or organization can afford to ignore. These trends have made “pay for success” initiatives an increasingly attractive funding model for a variety of publicly funded initiatives and programs.
Pay-for-success is just what the name implies; also known as social impact bonds, pay-for-success initiatives are initially funded partly with public funds and substantially with funds from private investors. The effectiveness of these programs, as determined by their delivery efficiency and measured impact on the target population, translates to government funding at the back end. This funding is then parceled out to the private investors as a return on their initial investment – the more effective the program, the better the return for the investors.
Obviously, timely and accurate outcomes measurement is critical to these pay-for-success programs. Your Performance management software needs to be able to document the success of a program as well as providing rapid, frequent and accurate insight into what’s working and what isn’t. Both so that providers can apply continuous quality improvements as needed and so that investors can track the status of their investments.
There are three key software features that are necessary for performance management systems to operate optimally in pay-for-success initiatives.
Key Performance Management Software Feature #1: Rapid-Time Reporting
Any time performance is being monitored for the benefit of a service population, the value of feedback depends on its timeliness. The nature of how programs and services are typically delivered, and the time necessary for results to emerge and become measurable, makes true real-time reporting unrealistic as a practical matter.
However, rapid-time reporting is vital for both external and internal reasons. External investors want to be able to track what an agency is doing and what’s working as the initiative progresses toward its established performance goals … and gets closer to a payback for the investors. Rapid-time reporting is reporting that tracks interim indicators of success towards long-term goals.
Internally, rapid-time reporting can be critical to the initiative’s success. It should scale so that individual workforce staff can see effectiveness in their efforts. The same is true for program managers, who want an aggregated report on staff performance. Rapid-time reporting provides the foundation for continuous quality improvement and successfully achieving the program’s defined objectives, as it allows the organization to assess whether its current trajectory is on track for success or not.
Key Performance Management Software Feature #2: Multi-User Access
Performance management software for Pay for Success initiatives should be capable of allowing accessibility to multiple end users. That way, 3rd party evaluators and private investors can access the initiative’s results without requiring the help or attention of your front-line staff, managers and administrators. Because of the importance of following the progress of their “investment,” this ease of access can be critical for attracting private investors. Increasingly, the same expectation and the approach is becoming the norm in new government funded program as well.
Key Performance Management Software Feature #3: Evidence-Based Practice Models
It’s even more important for pay-for-success programs to realize success as quickly as possible. To facilitate this, it’s best to work from evidence-based practice models that can establish a reasonable performance benchmark based on prior successful initiatives and results of evaluation studies of the populations to be served.
By working from what’s worked in the past, workforce development agencies are increasing their chances of success and lowering the perceived risk for potential investors. The performance management software selected to support a pay-for-success program should likewise leverage evidence-based practice models and, building on past successes, provide a reporting process that fully showcases an initiative’s achievements.
A Pay-For-Success Example
Reentry services provide a good example of how the evidence-based model should be incorporated into a workforce development pay-for-success initiative and demonstrates how software should support it. Helping ex-offenders return to society as productive members can involve multiple rehabilitation steps, including job training, finding employment, transitional housing, etc…
Performance management software should recognize past successes in its design. Such a software should:
- Integrate all of these service possibilities
- Guide agencies to adjust and improve their delivery of services continually
- Allow agencies to identify, replicate and share best practices on an ongoing basis.
Pay-for-success initiatives such as those in the field of Reentry Services funded by U.S. Department of Labor, are bringing a new challenge to workforce practitioners, raising the standards for how effectively they impact the communities and populations they serve. Fortunately, performance management software has reached a point where it can help agencies maximize their impact and their attractiveness as potential investment opportunities.
The dynamic for workforce development funding is trending from government entitlement to earning investor confidence… and then delivering as promised to constituents and investors alike. If you’re starting such a program, be sure to select a performance management software system that makes the pay-for-success model not only feasible, but a “win-win” for everyone involved.
Social Solutions provides the performance management software that is specifically customizable for pay-for-success programs, contact us today to learn more.