Performance Measurement and Shared Services in the Public Sector

Shared services in the public sector has been getting a big 'push' lately. There's no doubt that a shared service model can produce efficiency and productivity gains. I've been puttering around in shared services lately, and (since I'm a performance measurement guy) I've got a couple of observations I'd like to umm, share, about the relationship between performance measurement and shared services in the public sector.

Let me start by examining something they have in common as change initiatives. Shared services and performance measurement projects are often launched without a great deal of understanding of the level of effort and support required to get to the end goal.

Each initiative is an on-going learning process for the organizations involved. This means that both performance measurement and shared services need dedicated and on-going resources to be the custodian of the process and effect real change.

I've seen many organizations try to 'do' performance measurement off the corner of someone's desk, so to speak i.e. without a proper plan, budget, or resources. The harsh reality is, you get nuthin' for nuthin'. You would not expect any project to succeed without clearly defined goals, a plan and timeline, and resources to get there; yet somehow people think performance measurement is an exception to this rule.

And the same is true of the migration to shared services; dedicated resources responsible for change management are critical to success, yet this is often overlooked and under-staffed. Much of the potential benefit of shared services in the public sector can be delayed or even lost if the process of change is not competently managed.

Another strategy gaff is failing to establish a performance baseline from which to measure the success of the renewed shared services organization. How do you know the progress you've made if you didn't document where you started? How do you prove success without something to measure it against?

Finally, let's talk about performance measurement for established shared services organizations. What measures do you need? Here's the short list:

  • Measures to evaluate the day to day business of product and service delivery;
  • Outcome measures that reflect changes/improvements in attitudes, capacity, practices, or conditions among stakeholders (including customers of shared services)
  • Measures to evaluate the progress and impact of improvement initiatives;
  • Measures of the activities that support organizational performance e.g. implementing appropriate technologies, recruiting, retaining, and training personnel, developing sound governance and accountability structures, managing client/stakeholder relationships.

These are more or less in priority order. In other words, get your measures of timeliness, cost and quality of service delivery in place first, then measures of customer satisfaction and awareness/perception of the organization. Measures of innovation and your enablers can come later.

See also: Change Management for the Public Sector

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Contact me to discuss performance measurement or shared services in your organization. You can reach me at 613 302-3924 or

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