Measuring, monitoring, and reporting performance is essential to the success of any organisation.
Whether you are a large government department or a small local council, the ability to effectively measure performance is key to making informed decisions, remaining agile, and achieving outcomes. Entities that measure their performance effectively have clear line of sight of what they are doing well and what they can improve. They can readily identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks, and drive change in the areas that matter most.
Over the next 12 months, we are sharing a series of blogs to help entities strengthen their performance monitoring and reporting practices. The series will draw out key insights, learnings, and advice across the following themes:
- what gets measured, gets managed – plan to measure success from the start
- tips for reporting on performance
- systems for successful performance monitoring
- learnings for the future.
What do we mean by measuring performance?
Measuring performance is a systematic process of collecting, analysing, and reporting information regarding the performance of your entity. It includes:
- Developing the right types of performance measures and targets
- Monitoring performance regularly to detect issues and anomalies as they arise
- Reporting critical performance information to key decision makers.
Why do some entities find it difficult to monitor and report their performance?
Despite the clear benefits, some entities find it difficult to monitor and report their performance effectively. Between 2015–16 and 2021–22, the most common type of recommendation that we made to entities was to improve their performance monitoring and reporting practices. Over this period, we made 249 performance monitoring and reporting recommendations from 35 reports to parliament. We directed these recommendations to a range of entities across a variety of sectors, including health, justice, education, and transport. We found entities could enhance their performance monitoring and reporting by:
From our work in following up the implementation of our recommendations, we have also found that performance monitoring and reporting recommendations are one of the most common types of recommendations that entities fail to implement.
So why do entities find it difficult to monitor and report their performance effectively?
There are many reasons. Some common challenges can be setting the right organisational culture, unclear objectives and goals, and a lack of access to quality data.
A culture of accountability and transparency
Entities that value and promote accountability and transparency, and foster a culture of continuous improvement, are more likely to measure their performance effectively. This assists in setting the right performance targets and in measuring and reporting the right type of information. They are more likely to hold each other accountable and shine a light on the areas that are not working, so they can drive improvement.
Clear objectives and goals
Entities need well defined objectives and goals to develop the right type of performance measures. Some entities grapple with accurately measuring and reporting their performance because their objectives and goals are vague or do not clearly link to their strategy or mission. For example, in our report on Health outcomes for First Nations people (Report 14: 2022–23), we found that most health equity strategies commit to broad and ambitious objectives. And the objectives do not contain enough detail to explain how they will be achieved. This makes it difficult to measure performance and determine if objectives have been met.
Quality data is a cornerstone of effective performance management. It enables entities to glean valuable insights and make informed decisions, rather than rely on gut feeling or intuition. Entities need effective systems and data management practices to ensure the data they collect is both accurate and complete.
Entities that overcome these challenges are better positioned to monitor and report their performance effectively, and ultimately are more likely to achieve their goals.
Keep an eye out for our next blog ‘what gets measured, gets managed – plan to measure success from the start.’
Our report to parliament on the status of Auditor-General’s recommendations
Each year, we ask entities to self-assess the progress they have made in implementing the performance audit recommendations we made in our reports to parliament. Our yearly report highlights shared challenges and opportunities, such as the one we have covered here on performance monitoring and reporting.
Later this year, we’ll publish our 2023 report. The accompanying interactive data dashboard allows our clients and stakeholders to explore entities’ self-assessed progress and tailor their search by year, report, entity name, parliamentary committee, recommendation category, and implementation status. Exploring the data by the ‘performance monitoring and reporting’ recommendation category allows you to see the specific recommendations we made on this topic and how entities reported that they had addressed them.
- Report to parliament: Status of Auditor-General’s recommendations
- Interactive dashboard: Status of Auditor-General's recommendations dashboard
- Blog: The importance of developing effective strategies
- Blog: If you don’t set clear measures, you can’t effectively monitor performance.