The automated reporting and analysis functions found in performance management systems enhance the capability of social service agencies to track the success of their programs. These functions also provide the data-based guidance that agencies can rely on to adjust practices and resources as needed.
To make those adjustments with insight and confidence requires two management tools that are fast becoming ubiquitous for social services managers:
- The Digital Dashboard
- The Performance Scorecard
Understanding the capabilities these tools bring to a social services agency is crucial to getting the most out of your performance management system.
What Is a Digital Dashboard?
To put it simply, a digital dashboard is a single screen that pulls together diverse pieces of information related to nearly every aspect of a social program. Dashboards focus on presenting that information in a readily “digestible” and useable mode (much as the dashboard on your car provides a summary of your engine’s operating status and warns you when something is wrong).
Instead of having to create several different reports and then review them individually, the dashboard pulls together pertinent, user-determined information to provide an ongoing summary review of one or several (or all) aspects of a program.
Go Even Further: The scope of the dashboard can be as large as you want it – you can even use a digital dashboard to monitor a group of programs and get better insight into the community impact.
What Can You Do with a Digital Dashboard?
Ultimately, a digital dashboard gives managers and job counselors the ability to see at a glance, an overview of the important information and allows quick navigation to deeper insights.
A dashboard is the fastest way to identify trends in participants’ behavior and involvement, and to make objective determinations about the success or failure of a program while there is still time to initiate significant corrective changes.
Specifically, they make it easy to compare trend lines over time or flag certain individuals when they meet or fall below designated program thresholds. As an example, the dashboard featured in the ETO performance management software can be tailored to align with the Transtheoretical Model for stages of change as applied to social services and workforce development.
What are Scorecards?
While a dashboard provides an ongoing monitor of the program elements you want to check on regularly and often, a scorecard is a snapshot of one or more aspects of the same data pool from which the dashboard draws its read-outs. Often they can be used to easily compare measurables between personnel, organizations or even time periods.
The dashboard and the scorecard work together to give you the information you need when you need it. Both the dashboard and the scorecard can cut through reams of data to give you only the essential informational highlights.
What can you do with a scorecard?
As an example, let’s say you’re looking for key numbers related to a TAACCCT program: graduation rates, credentials obtainment, or percent of students moving on to four-year college programs and completing them. A scorecard based on those parameters will show you how groups – or designated segments of groups – are progressing and where there may be opportunities for improvement.
An Important Note: To assure the accuracy of the results reported on the scorecard, your performance management system should automatically correct duplicated data entries (especially where multi-program participants’ data are added individually). Such duplication can significantly misrepresent aggregated program results.
Both the digital dashboard and the scorecard are important knowledge tools to help you recognize what’s working and where to re-direct resources to facilitate improvements. They provide the kind of practical knowledge that allows you to serve participants more effectively, as well as identify and replicate best practices. They contribute to building a more comprehensive body of impact evidence beneficial to WIA reporting and fund-raising initiatives.
Social Solutions provides ETO performance management software systems that streamline WIA reporting and provide ongoing monitoring through digital dashboards as part of an integrated evaluation of their workforce development efforts.