Is your board focusing more on compliance than impact?
Is it engaged or disengaged with critical organisational matters?
What questions does it ask of its executive team and what evidence does it require in dealing with the response?
Is the board using data to make impact-led decisions?
Quite rightly, much has been written and spoken about our compliance duties as board members in recent years. And we still have a way to go yet to give ourselves, and our stakeholders, comfort that we have appropriate systems and processes in place to manage data safety and security.
But what about your board’s key function - to deliver on the organisation’s mission? In our experience, most board’s are not using good, reliable data to make impact-driven decisions.
Are you determined to grow as an organisation and do you have a plan to do it?
How do you determine which service areas your organisation should invest in and what your growth targets are? Importantly - How do you balance growth in impact and growth in revenue?
Mission-led organisations need to focus on delivering both revenue (financial sustainability) and social impact (outcomes that matter to clients of our services). But in an environment of finite resources (and potentially diminishing resources) the question is how to assess where these limited resources should go to achieve growth goals and targets.
One way we have helped clients think about their growth is to review each of their programs across two dimensions using our Strategic Growth Matrix©. The purpose of the Strategic Growth Matrix is to force critical thinking about each of the services and programs the organisation offers and prioritise resources in a way that best achieves the mission of social impact. Sometimes organisations with lots of revenue and staff can feel their goal is simply to grow as an organisation - more money, more staff. But the Strategic Growth Matrix helps make the social impact goals of the organisation more explicitly reflected in strategy, not just the financial sustainability goals.
In February, Dale presented at the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) conference on how a whole social sector can come together to take leadership of data and develop a collaborative data project to share useful data across multiple stakeholders. Collaborative data projects enable a sector to see the 'whole impact' of the sector and measure outcomes in consistent ways. See the presentation pack below.
5 things you can do to better empower frontline workers in your organisation:
A CMS or Client Management System (also called a CRM or Client Relationship Management system or Case Management System) are key tools for delivering and improving social services. They are also big business, and can be quite costly to invest in. We know social organisations that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and for larger organisations, millions of dollars on these IT database systems. They are significant investments for cash-strapped social organisations. Yet they don’t always deliver good value.
We advise clients not to rush into buying a CMS, but to first spend time designing your data ecosystem. The key to getting the most out of your IT providers is to develop a detailed, mapped set of metrics and to be clear how you will use this data for better decision making. This forms part of your functional brief to the CMS provider, but it also reduces duplication and the need to re-work your system when you need to make changes down the track.
Here are our top six principles to consider before investing in a new CMS:
1. Start with the end in mind
We run what we call ‘End State’ workshops that help organisations get laser-focused on the social mission and organisational goals. As you identify what your organisation is trying to achieve, the workshop helps you identify the data you’ll need to achieve your key goals. This then enables you to decide what outputs (reports, IT dashboards) you need to generate these metrics. The End State process is an acquired skill because you have to balance frontline and client needs, quality of data, validated metrics as well and organisational and operational considerations.
Community Colleges are important providers of education and job pathways for people with various barriers to learning and employment. They sit at the intersection of adult education and social impact, and government funders are increasingly looking to explore outcomes-based funding in this sector.
Latitude Network is working with the peak body Community Colleges Australia and five community colleges to run a collaborative data project with the NSW Department of Education. The aim is to develop a common set of data collection standards across multiple colleges to allow comparative data on outcomes and performance.
This is an exciting project that demonstrates how data systems, continuous improvement and innovation processes can be applied at a systems level in social and education sectors. The project is designing a system that works for multiple different organisations using different student management systems (databases), in a range of different geographies serving a wide range of student needs. The de-identified data can then be collated across multiple organisations in a consistent way to create dashboards and analysis covering different programs, locations, services and outcomes.
In the next phase Latitude Network will build common dashboards and conduct periodic ‘deep dives’, or data analytics reports, to generate insights that enable colleges to improve (optimise) services and social impact. Comparative data is very powerful because it allows individual colleges to anonymously see their performance in the context of the performance of other organisations delivering in different regions. This provides evidence to flag performance gaps and to learn from best practices with objective data (not just those who claim to have good practice).
This work is important for peak bodies to consider as a tool to improve system performance in any sector or sub-sector of the social services system. Watch this space for more information as the project moves to implementation. Feel free to reach out to us about lessons from this project if you are seeking to improve performance in multi-stakeholder or cross-organisation collaborations.