Performance Measurement and Strategic Goals


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Performance Measurement and Strategic Goals

  1. 1. Performance Measurement and Strategic Goals Sean Wellington Acting Head of Research and Information Unit [email_address] +44 (0)23 8031 9826
  2. 2. Overview of presentation <ul><li>Key issues and challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Performance measurement: HEFCE and CUC perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Existing practice: UK higher education institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Implications for policy and practice </li></ul><ul><li>Concluding remarks </li></ul><ul><li>Questions and discussion </li></ul>
  3. 3. ‘ I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science , whatever the matter may be.’ Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson), 1883
  4. 4. Key issues <ul><li>The sector continues to experience considerable turbulence and change </li></ul><ul><li>Mission differentiation – no single definition of ‘success’ </li></ul><ul><li>Measures are hard to define and often quantify past or current performance, rather than give an insight into the future </li></ul><ul><li>Goals and indicators of success should be externally referenced </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring information is needed by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>University leaders and managers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The governing body (often in the form of Key Performance Indicators) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goodhart’s law - ‘When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure’ </li></ul>
  5. 5. ‘ higher education’s most critical goals are difficult, if not impossible, to measure’ (Birnbaum, 2001, p.84)
  6. 6. ‘ If you want to fatten a pig, you don't keep weighing it.’
  7. 7. Funding council guidance (1) <ul><li>Strategic planning in higher educations: A guide for heads of institutions, senior managers and members of governing bodies (HEFCE, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Advocated a three stage planning process: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning – environmental scanning and assessment of internal resources, leading to the generation of ideas and decisions, typically to undertake new activities, make improvements or discontinue selected activities; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation – document the plans; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implementation and monitoring – action must be taken to achieve the agreed goals, monitor progress or non-achievement in order to adapt the future strategy. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Funding council guidance (2) <ul><li>Outputs from the planning process include: </li></ul><ul><li>A long-term plan (the Strategic or Corporate plan) which includes the overall vision and strategy, long-term objectives and how these are to be achieved; </li></ul><ul><li>An operating plan (or statement) which distils the actions required in the year ahead; </li></ul><ul><li>Actions necessary to effect implementation; </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring reports and information to indicate progress or non-achievement. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Funding council guidance (3) <ul><li>Monitoring should take place at various levels within the organisation, with the nature and frequency of reporting determined in advance </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring should include an overview of progress towards meeting the strategic goals, it is suggested at least annually, reporting to the senior management team and governing body </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring information should provide the appropriate level of detail and avoid unnecessary duplication. Information may be provided in a variety of ways, for example verbal or written reports from the senior manager responsible </li></ul><ul><li>The monitoring system itself should be subject to periodic (and perhaps independent) review </li></ul><ul><li>The role of governing body will depend on the instrument and articles of government </li></ul>
  10. 10. CUC guidance <ul><li>CUC Report on the Monitoring of Institutional Performance and the Use of Key Performance Indicators (CUC, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Top-level summary indicators (“super KPIs”) </li></ul><ul><li>1. Institutional sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>2. Academic profile and market position </li></ul><ul><li>Top-level indicators of institutional health </li></ul><ul><li>3. The student experience and teaching and learning </li></ul><ul><li>4. Research </li></ul><ul><li>5. Knowledge Transfer and relationships </li></ul><ul><li>6. Financial health </li></ul><ul><li>7. Estates and infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>8. Staff and Human Resource Development </li></ul><ul><li>9. Governance, leadership and management </li></ul><ul><li>10. Institutional projects </li></ul>
  11. 11. HEFCE performance indicators <ul><li>Published for all UK higher education institutions and cover four main areas of importance to the funding councils: </li></ul><ul><li>widening participation </li></ul><ul><li>progression and retention </li></ul><ul><li>research output </li></ul><ul><li>employment outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>External performance indicators are unlikely to align fully with institutional goals and ‘tend to be disconnected from the internal life of institutions’ (Watson and Maddison, 2005, p. 57) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Review of existing practice (1) <ul><li>Based on a sample of UK university corporate plans: </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on league tables, for example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘The University has a clear and simple objective; to move by 2010 from being in the top thirty in the UK to being in the top twenty.’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some poor alignment between strategic goals and measures or indicators of success, for example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘To enhance our relationship with employers with which we are already in partnership focussing on building the reputation of the university’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Large numbers of high level objectives (HEFCE recommends between 8 and 12, each with 3 or 4 operating tasks) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Review of existing practice (2) <ul><li>Assigned responsibility (individual or group) for delivery of component strategy objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Objectives have success indicators </li></ul><ul><li>Interim indicators of success stated and used to monitor progress towards the strategic goals </li></ul><ul><li>Embedded arrangements for monitoring progress </li></ul><ul><li>Embedded arrangements for review and update of the corporate plan </li></ul>
  14. 14. Good practice <ul><li>Establishing a relatively small number of strategic goals; </li></ul><ul><li>Employ interim milestones to help monitor progress and provide impetus for change; </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring takes place at various levels and measures pervade the organisation; </li></ul><ul><li>The nature and frequency of reporting is determined in advance, while the monitoring system itself is subject to periodic review; </li></ul><ul><li>The information collected is used to enhance institutional performance and inform decision-making; </li></ul><ul><li>Information about progress against strategic goals is routinely and regularly shared with stakeholders. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Concluding remarks <ul><li>Strategic goals in higher education are difficult to define and measure, however each institution should identify its own key indicators of strategic success, relative to its competitors and comparator institutions </li></ul><ul><li>League tables based on (arbitrarily) weighted combinations of performance indicator scores do not provide a sufficient or adequate basis on which to assess university performance </li></ul><ul><li>Any measurement system will be imperfect, with continued care needed to guard against unintended consequences </li></ul>
  16. 16. References Birnbaum, R. (2001), Management Fads in Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. CUC. (2006), Report on the Monitoring of Institutional Performance and the Use of Key Performance Indicators. Sheffield: Committee of University Chairmen. HEFCE. (2000), Strategic planning in higher education (2000/24). Bristol: Higher Education Funding Council for England. Watson, D. and Maddison, E. (2005), Managing Institutional Self-Study. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
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