In another blog (add link) we defined outcomes measurement and outlined why it is so important. This blog builds on the former blog and describes the “how” of outcomes measurement work in 5 simple steps. The steps are the same, regardless of the function of your organisation. These steps are integrated, cyclical, and continuous – as one step in the process completes, the next begins. So lets get started.
Step 1 – Set Goals, Define purpose and Establish Strategies
Outcomes measurement starts with setting goals and defining strategies.
Goals define your strategic objective and provide purpose for you, your staff, and your board. Goals are the measuring stick from which performance is measured and evaluated. Goals should be SMART – simple/specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
Goals are so important because they allow you and your staff to measure progress toward your objectives. They also benefit your organisation by:
- Holding everyone accountable
- Maintaining clear focus and purpose
- Defining success and removing ambiguity of success
- Empowering everyone to achieve and succeed
Strategies define how you will accomplish your goals. Strategies are the activities, processes, and methods you employ to achieve your goals. Strategies can be simple, or they can be complex. Depending on the complexity of the goal, a single goal may have multiple associated strategies.
So, having a solid foundation to start with through setting goals and strategies benefits your organisation in that it helps to maintain a clear focus and purpose toward an objective.
Step 2 – Measure and Analyse
The second step to outcomes measurement is measurement and analysis. Measurement and analysis show, using empirical evidence, whether your organisation is achieving its goals.
Collecting data and metrics about your performance is an important component of this step. Every organisation is unique; therefore the metrics and data you select will be specific to your organisation.
Measurement takes many forms and usually involves a system to collect and manage data, such as customized databases, special software, Excel spreadsheets, or paper-based forms.
After the data is collected, the second part of this step is to analyse and interpret it to determine levels of achievement toward your organisation’s goals.
Step 3 – Improve
When clear measurement is complete you can use the analysed information to improve your goals and/or your strategies. Improvement constantly modifies the status quo by eliminating things that don’t give you positive results and building upon those things that do give you positive results.
As you continuously measure your progress against your goals and improve, you are finding the truth behind your programs and services, and making smarter strategic decisions to ensure long-term sustainability.
Step 4 – Create an outcomes measurement culture
Once you have made improvements to your programs and services, it doesn’t end there. You want to continually build on these changes, and to do that you need to create an outcomes measurement organisational culture where people buy into and support the organisation in its mission to achieve its goals. This means that they manage data accurately, consistently, and efficiently, and embrace an outcomes measurement focus day-in and day-out.
Step 5: Communicate your outcomes
The final step to engaging in outcomes measurement work is communicating your outcomes and performance to all of your stakeholders, both internally and externally. This might be through regular updates at staff meetings, internal training sessions, or external conferences. It’s important to tell everyone about how you are improving your programs and services to combat new and evolving social challenges. This is because this communication establishes buy-in and trust from your stakeholders in the work that you are doing to make a difference in your clients’ lives.
If you would like more information on the steps to outcomes measurement and how you can apply these steps to your organisation, why not check out SQI’s 4-part Outcomes Measurement Survival e-Guide, particularly part 2, which provides a bit more detail on these 5 steps and provides you with access to a free worksheet to help you put this 5-step process into action.