6 min read

Performance Management for City Managers 2022

By GovPilot

As a City Manager - a leader in local government, you need to not only help define government-wide objectives and budgets, but also need to leverage data for making informed decisions about benchmarks against progress and how to set new priorities.

Yet with obsolete data-collection and no defined performance management strategy, it can be nearly impossible to assess performance of existing government projects and to make informed decisions about future government objectives and budgets. 

Read on for everything you need to know about collecting insightful data and forming a modern performance management strategy.

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What is Local Government Performance Management?

Performance management is the process of local government leadership (typically city managers or administrators) collecting insightful data across various projects, departments, and metrics and using that data to dictate the current performance of departments based on pre-set goals and make educated decisions about future government projects.

Why is a Performance Management Strategy Critical for Local Governments?

As your local government continues to spend tax-payer dollars to work on various projects, you’ll need to use trackable metrics (known as key performance indicators) to assess your community’s performance. 

Performance management allows you to analyze critical data points in various capacities to determine if you’re hitting your objectives and budgetary goals. As consideration for upcoming projects and the necessary budgets take place, the data can be used for making informed decisions. 

What Types of Goals Should You Set in Your Performance Management Plan?

As a city manager or department leader, you constantly have to think about the big picture. In considering infrastructure needs, constituent priorities, and departmental budgets, you’ll prioritize a game plan to allocate dollars that will make a positive impact on the local quality of life. 

Here’s what you’ll need to consider when goal-setting and assessing your locality’s performance:

  • Which issues matter most in your community?

What topics are constituents talking about at town halls and public meetings? Which government assets and infrastructure are aging and need replacement?

Understanding which problems pose the biggest risk to the local quality of life will make it easier to set goals to overcome the biggest hurdles in your community. 

  • What is a realistic budget for the project at hand? 

Government projects are constantly costing more than anticipated, with one study of 25 federal infrastructure projects finding that all 25 projects were over budget, with some costing more than 50% of the original budget presented. Town and city projects tend to be no different.

Take the time to set realistic goals pertaining to the cost of local infrastructure projects. Your tax-paying constituents care about how their money is being spent, and you owe it to them to come in at (or under) budget. 

  • How long is the project at hand going to take? 

A key reason so many government projects come in over cost is the frequent failure to complete projects on time. Don’t underestimate potential risks that can cause delays in a government project, and try your best to factor buffers into your timelines to ensure the deliverables come in on time. 

Pro tip: when accepting bids from private-sector partners, don’t be afraid to push back and ask questions about their proposal and timelines. Consider and question them about potential blockers that can jack up costs while simultaneously delaying the schedule. 

What Types of Projects Should Your Government Prioritize?

The sky is the limit when it comes to projects your government could work on. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should work on all of them. The key to measuring your local government’s performance is prioritizing the types of projects that matter most and delivering on them.

Here are top project-types that matter most to constituents when it comes to your government’s performance:

1. Physical infrastructure

Whether it’s a road, bridge, public building, and / or other physical aspects of your community, there are areas of your community that could and should be improved upon. Consider which infrastructure is in more dire need of an upgrade, especially considering buildings and areas that aren’t disaster resilient

Don’t forget the benefits of great municipal planning to increase walkability and bikeability. Consider what steps you can take to make your community a “15-minute city.”

Pro Tip: Remember that the American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are putting billions into local governments to implement infrastructure changes. Consider the top priorities you’d like to use federal grants for, and explore these guides for more insight into what this legislation means for you:

2. Digital Infrastructure

Poor broadband infrastructure means weak internet-quality for your constituents and local businesses, as well as inefficient government workflows for your locality. The functionality of your local internet is a direct representation of your local government’s performance, meaning you’ll want to make sure your Internet is at the highest standard possible as your constituents and government become more reliant on digital infrastructure. 

3. Internal efficiency

Employees across departments have a lot on their plates. If steps haven’t been taken to address antiquated and slow-moving workflows, it is undoubtedly having a direct impact on the performance of your local government.

Consider which areas of your local government are underperforming and what can be done to make things more efficient. Government technology can automate mindless tasks to save time and money. 

How to Collect Data and Track Performance of Local Government Endeavors?

Setting goals doesn’t mean much if you’re not measuring how you’re actually doing. Luckily, government software makes it easy to collect and analyze real-time data across departments and projects.

Take a look at the following tips for collecting data in your locality to analyze:

  • Embrace technology: with its operating system for local governments, GovPilot will not only improve your workflows, but will make it easier than ever to track performance against measurable key performance indicators (KPIs.) Real-time data is automatically stored in the cloud, meaning you’ll be able to see where the technology is saving you time and money and boosting performance across departments. And don’t worry, your existing data on physical paper will be moved to the cloud during your onboarding process.
  • Set up customized dashboards: along with receiving data across departments in real-time, government management software makes it easy to create custom dashboards that make data analysis straightforward. Which areas are generating the most revenue? What are your costliest expenditures? Questions like these can be answered to make it truly transparent how you’re performing. 
  • Communicate with constituents: your personal opinion of how you’re doing doesn’t mean much if the majority of your constituents aren’t happy. An integral part of your government communications strategy is direct constituent correspondence and collecting tangible data on their thoughts about recent progress. GovPilot’s complaint management system and digital communications channels allow government officials to correspond with constituents with a simple texting-style platform. 

Local governments across the country are boosting their performance with digital transformation. Learn more about how they’re doing it and tracking their performance:

Mastering Performance Management in City Planning

Your constituents deserve the best government services possible. For accountability purposes, town or city administrators need to set measurable goals and regularly see how they are doing when it comes to budgets, timeframes, and constituent approval.

Local government digital transformation will not only increase your productivity tenfold, but will collect data in real-time that makes it easy and intuitive to assess how your municipal or county government is performing.

To learn more about how GovPilot can boost efficiency and make performance management a straightforward endeavor, book a free consultation. 

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Performance Management FAQs

1. What is local government performance management?

Local government performance management is the process of municipal or county leadership performing data analysis to reflect on how current endeavors are measuring up to key performance indicators. This assessment is typically used to determine which projects should be prioritized in coming quarters / years. 

2. How does current performance play into future government goal-setting?

The unfortunate reality is that government projects frequently come in over cost and slower than anticipated. Your performance management strategy should assess how current projects are going compared to initial projections. If you’ve learned that a certain type of project is more costly and time consuming than anticipated, that lesson should factor into the budgets and timeframes for future goals, and often means it may make more sense to prioritize less burdensome endeavors in the future. 

3. How does data analysis play into performance management? 

Modern government technology collects real-time data across various departments and metrics (like costs, completion times, constituent feedback, etc.) and pulls it into intuitive and customized dashboards for government officials to utilize. 

These valuable visualizations of important metrics can and should be used to determine:

  • How much money is being spent in each department
  • How much is being spent on various government projects
  • How much time government processes and projects are taking
  • How public efforts are being received by constituents (via a simple citizen engagement platform)

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Constituent Experience, Digital Transformation, Blog