Cheat sheet for creating a plan

Want to know what a performance-based management plan might look like? Here are some illustrations of IT missions, outcome-based goals and performance measures, and how they would line up for a hypothetical government agency's IT office.

Guiding Principles

In developing performance measures:
  • Bring representatives from all parts of the agency into the process. Getting top leadership on board is critical.

  • Focus on outcomes, not outputs. Outcomes are the results of program activity compared with the program's intended purpose. Outputs are products and services of the program activity.

  • Don't measure everything. Measure what's most important to outcomes.

  • Make performance data widely available. Performance measures must be easily understood by employees outside the IT office.


The IT office:
  • Develops and administers policies, standards and planning processes to support the management and procurement of systems, services and equipment. It also develops, maintains and operates agencywide applications and telecommunications systems.

  • Views its work relationships as partnerships, promoting open communication and user-friendly cooperation.

Setting outcome or performance goals

Remember, outcome-based goals address concerns of stakeholders outside the IT office, so:
  • Provide direction and leadership in agencywide IT matters through cooperative partnerships with others, both inside and outside the agency.

  • Ensure that the agency maximizes the benefit and value from investments in IT that support agency business processes.

  • Support the continuity of critical agency business processes by ensuring minimal disruption caused by the unavailability of systems and IT services.

How to measure performance toward each goal

Provide direction and leadership

Measure 1: The proportion of members of the agency's IT advisory board that rates the performance of the office of IT as satisfactory or better.

How: In conjunction with the IT advisory board, the IT office develops an index based on survey questions that evaluate performance in terms of direction, leadership and cooperation.

Capturing the data: Members of the advisory board will complete the survey once a year.

Measure 2: The proportion of active projects that the IT office undertakes in conjunction with the IT advisory board that are on time, on budget and meet identified requirements.

How: Projects undertaken in conjunction with the IT advisory board, regardless of cost, follow the project management and reporting requirements described.

Capturing the data: The information necessary for this measure is available from quarterly project status reports.

Ensure the agency maximizes the benefit and value from investment in IT

Measure: The proportion of active IT projects costing more than a predetermined dollar threshold that are on time, on budget and meeting identified requirements.

How: Prior to the build stage, projects budgeted in excess of the threshold will have an approved project plan that includes a well-defined scope statement, schedule, budget and work breakdown structure identifying critical milestones and projected cost and duration for component tasks.

Definitions: On time and on budget compares actual expenditures and progress with planned expenditures and schedule. For the purposes of this measure, projects within 10 percent of the plan's budget and schedule will be considered on time. Meeting identified requirements indicates that the project is expected to achieve the goals in the plan's scope statement.

Capturing the data: Projects will submit quarterly status reports that compare actual and originally projected expenditures and schedules and that document approved changes in project scope and deliverables.

Support the continuity of critical agency business processes

Measure: The number of substantial disruptions to critical agency business processes caused by the unavailability of systems or IT services.

Definitions: The agency's CIO, the program manager of the business process and IT manager responsible for supporting that process will determine what constitutes a substantial disruption.

Capturing the data: The IT manager responsible for supporting the process will promptly report substantial disruptions to the agency's CIO.

More potential measures to support continuity: To prevent and protect against critical disruptions, the IT office will develop performance measures that track systems in four areas: disaster recovery, system capacity, security and personnel.

Source: Thomas A. Darling, director of government and technology for the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center for Public Policy

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