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Performance Measures (formerly Performance Indicators) Frequently Asked Questions Banner

Frequently Asked Questions

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    Q. What are some characteristics of good performance measures?*

  • Meaningful -- significant and directly related to the mission and goal.
  • Responsibility Linked -- matched to an organizational unit responsible for achieving the measure.
  • Organizationally acceptable -- valued by those within the organization.
  • Customer focused -- reflect the point of view of the customers and stakeholders.
  • Comprehensive -- include all key aspects of the Library performance.
  • Balanced -- include several types of measures, i.e., outcome, efficiency, and quality measures.
  • Timely -- use and report data in a reasonable time-frame.
  • Credible -- based on accurate and reliable data.
  • Cost Effective -- based upon acceptable data collection and processing costs.
  • Compatible -- integrated with existing financial and operational systems.
  • Comparable -- useful for making comparisons with other data over time.
  • Simple -- easy to calculate and interpret.

    * From:

    Q. What is the difference between performance indicators and measures?
    A. Well, there is no black and white answer since you may find the terms used interchangeably. To some, a performance indicator is a quantitative or qualitative factor to measure program results against a goal or objective and the terms may be synonymous, i.e., the indicator is a measure. To others, a performance indicator is an interim step toward achieving the measure of performance. For example, if your performance goal is to have healthy lands and waters, the number of forest acres infested by insects is an indicator of forest health whereas your overall performance measure might be the percent of acres being managed in an environmentally sustainable condition. Conversely, you may find someone rolling several measures into what they refer to as an overall performance indicator or index. The important thing is to ask clarifying questions so that you understand how an individual interprets the terms.

    Q. Where did these measures come from?
    A. In the Recreation and Environmental Stewardship programs, the measures were developed by advisory board members within their respective Communities of Practice. For the overall Civil Works Program, they were developed by PDT's within their Communities of Practice such as Hydropower, Flood Control, etc.

    Q. What is the process for developing performance measures?
    A. Ideally, you will:

      Figure out what data is needed and the means of acquiring it.
    1. Collect baseline data for the measure(s).
    2. Benchmark performance against the performance of like providers. For us, this might be the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, commercial camping operations, etc.
    3. Determine targets based on achievable goals
    4. Gather data, analyze its meaning and share results within the COP.
    5. Review and update measures as needed. - Measures are not static, they should mature as objectives are met or as performance improves.
    6. Begin using the data to make daily and future program management decisions - moving beyond performance measurement to performance management.

    Q. What does the term SMAART mean?
    A. You may hear this term used relative to performance goals and objectives. There are some slight variations, but it is generally an acronym for:
    S - Specific (a single, simple goal versus a combination of items and specifying what results are expected)
    M - Measurable (track results via quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and provides a standard for comparison)
    A - Attainable/Achievable (realistic expectations within available time and resources and within your control/access)
    A - Action-Oriented (indicates an activity, performance, operation or something that produces results)
    R - Relevant (relates to your overall program goals)

    A good performance objective will reflect each of these characteristics. Example: Evaluate the satisfaction of customers with the new campground design at Firefly Falls Recreation Area during FY 2005. Evaluation includes the development of a methodology for obtaining visitor feedback during the recreation season, establishing a sampling protocol, obtaining and evaluating feedback received, and documenting use behaviors and environmental impacts such as demand for facility, rearranging fixtures, creating new pathways, overflow parking, vandalism, etc.
    T - Time framed (indicating when work is to be performed)

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