I have recently completed work supporting the Joint Committee of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and Department of Justice to improve outcome reporting from the eleven Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) across Northern Ireland. PCSPs are statutory local bodies made up of Councillors and independent people from each council area in Northern Ireland who work to make their community safer. The Joint Board responsible for the Partnerships has recommended an Outcome Based Accountability™ approach to developing their Plans and monitoring impact and my role was to help develop improved guidelines and facilitate a series of workshops across Northern Ireland to support the residents and partner agencies responsible for reporting.
The work concluded with the development of two types of Reporting Card: The first, the Whole Population card is to be used to monitor the effectiveness of the Plan across the PCSP area against priority Indicators. The second Reporting Card is to be used to monitor the effectiveness of individual actions (projects, services or interventions) on the client populations or beneficiaries based on Performance Measures. The distinction is critical in ensuring appropriate accountability and ensuring information collected can be used effectively to improve performance. The November 2018 version of the Planning Guidance Notes published by the PCSP Joint Committee can be accessed here and include community safety based examples of completed report cards.
Building on this work, in 2019 I ran a series of workshops for Local Authorities in Northern Ireland and helped develop templates and guidance notes to improve outcome reporting for the statutory Community Planning Partnerships. Again, there are two Report Card templates reporting at the Whole Population and Project level. These templates can be downloaded here and adapted as necessary for use against any outcome focused strategy and action reporting application. The templates include guidance notes and health related completed examples and are reproduced as Word documents to enable customisation.
It is I feel important to stress that the creation of these templates is aimed at improving outcomes for communities and not as the basis of creating tools to intimidate or penalise providers for failing on performance. The templates should be used as the basis for a ‘Performance Partnership’ between the funding body (purchaser or commissioner) and the provider organisation to identify challenges and facilitate improvement. It is also important to acknowledge the principle of ‘less is more’ in terms of data reporting and keeping the number of Performance Measures to the minimum level necessary proportionate to the size of the funding agreement. Even with complex, higher value agreements or contracts, a maximum of three to five Programme outcome measures, if chosen wisely, should form the basis of effective accountability and performance improvement.