How Performance Analysts are Driving Impact one data set at a time
When we first heard from Emma Tomkinson she was starting to write Delivering the Promise of Social Outcomes: the role of the performance analyst, and we were busy finalising Building the Capacity for Impact From our work on that paper, we were aware that the case for embedding performance management in social organisations was being strengthened by evidence from successful Social Impact Bond delivery, but we also knew that there was a lack of international examples of what it actually looked like.
So we were delighted that Emma had talked to performance analysts around the world – including one of our own! – to add depth to her report, which we are pleased to co-publish. The perspective and stories of these analysts brings insight and clarity to work that can feel challengingly technical and detailed to outsiders. In reading Delivering the Promise, it becomes clear why this work is so important in producing transformative outcomes – getting young people into work, helping ex-offenders to stay out of prison, keeping troubled families together – time and time again.
Social organisations operate in a world of often irrational philanthropic and government funding, and a narrative that says ‘good’ charities minimise spending on ‘overheads’. In the face of this Delivering The Promise makes the case that meaningful outcomes cannot be reliably produced for the majority of beneficiaries without investment in performance management – the real-time analysis of beneficiary progress towards outcomes, and the data-driven ‘course-correction’ to get any beneficiary that needs it back on track.
As Dan Miodovnik, a performance analyst at Social Finance, says in the report:
It’s not enough to say we’ve provided support to 60% of the people eligible for our services. We need to identify the 40% who didn’t access or take advantage of the program, understand why, and have strong enough relationships with delivery staff to discuss the reasons and change the service.
At Impetus-PEF we are committed to developing performance management in every organisation we invest in, as part of our Driving Impact package of support. We expect there to be staff accountable for maintaining data quality and analysis, but we also expect the principles of performance management to be visible in the day-to-day work of every frontline worker, their managers, and senior management. Accountability for outcomes – actually doing what you say you’re here to do for beneficiaries – is only possible when everyone in an organisation is committed to real-time performance data driving their programme design and their daily work with clients.
Millions of pounds have been spent on building the capacity of the social sector – but surprising little has ever been spent on building organisational capacity to analyse and act on beneficiary data. As evidence mounts that this is key to organisations being able to deliver impact, we must harness this to ensure that resources and expertise are directed to building performance analysis capacity across the social sector.