Using Data for Better Management.

Position:News & Numbers

Governments are always looking for ways to do things better --providing better transparency on the way tax dollars are spent, reducing fraud and abuse, improving health care, and maximizing transportation efficiency--all without spending more than necessary Business intelligence can help, according to "Four Realistic Ways Government Agencies Can Deliver Better Results to Citizens," a report from Tableau, an interactive data visualization software company.

Analytics can help by improving outcomes through measurement, collaborating across departments to cut down on information silos, and sharing insights across the organization.

Of course, effective performance measurement requires choosing the right metrics--which isn't easy. The article suggests thinking about the questions your organization already has about what's important and then comparing them with the key performance indicators (KPIs) you already use to measure progress. "Using data to create dashboards with these KPI metrics will help your team align, and make continuous adjustments to better meet your goals." Further suggestions: "Be specific with your metrics, and be realistic with time frames. Lofty goals not attached to metrics with a specified amount of time will only add to frustration."

One example the article provides is Tallahassee Utilities, which serves more than 180,000 citizens in the State of Florida. When the utility decided it needed to improve worker productivity, "it started to track and measure how many linear feet of sewers workers cleaned. The agency utilized data visualizations with metrics that allowed dispatchers to understand, in real time, how many linear feet their crews cleaned. Being able to monitor and respond to that data led to nearly a 30 percent increase in worker productivity."

Collaboration across departments is an obvious goal, but it isn't an easy one. It helps if employees can connect to all of their data sources, put disparate data together, and see insights in...

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