Having a publicly available performance dashboard is one the best ways that local governments can build trust with the community while engaging employees.
It’s also really daunting.
Not only does it put all of your aspirations, accomplishments and setbacks out there for everyone to see, but you have to produce the data to populate it, maintain it, and get internal buy-in for greater organizational transparency and public accountability for outcomes. For many local government teams, it’s not just about launching a dashboard, but introducing cultural change.
So if you’re reading this blog, then kudos. You understand the value of publicly sharing your team’s progress against goals and are seeking ways to introduce this level of transparency and accountability into your local government organization.
This is a good place to start. We work with over 100 local governments across North America and many of them have an Envisio-powered performance dashboard published on their website. All Envisio public dashboards are fully ADA compliant (WCAG 2.1 AA conformant) so all users, regardless of disabilities or limitations, can access and enjoy the content.
If you’re looking for inspiration, here are 8 of our favorite city, school district and county government performance dashboards, and why we love them.
I hope it’s useful. Let us know how else we can help.
No local government performance management list would be complete without Scottsdale. The Scottsdale team has a sophisticated performance management program and they do a great job of communicating progress to the community.
For six years, Scottsdale has earned the ICMA Certificate of Excellence in Performance Management, and in 2018, the city’s Performance Management Program was named to the What Works Cities Certification Honor Roll. They pay it forward by proactively sharing what they’ve learned with other local governments.
As part of their program, they have a comprehensive and attractive public dashboard showing progress against their annual strategic plan.
Here’s why we love it:
- It’s detailed, easy to navigate and well laid-out.
- Each strategic objective contains the contact information of the department head leading it. The Scottsdale team takes transparency seriously.
- The homepage of the dashboard provides a useful explanation of the time period reflected in the results and updates.
- There are clear explanations of how objectives have been completed or why they have been discontinued.
- It’s largely on track. Impressively, Scottsdale has completed 62% of the 2019 strategic plan actions and 68% of the remaining actions are on track.
You can learn more about Scottsdale’s performance management program here.
“One of the hallmarks of our City Council is that they want to be transparent,” explains Melinda Coleman, City Manager at the City of Maplewood.
City leaders use their strategic plan performance dashboard to do just that.
By regularly sharing progress with the community, they are building trust with their residents and demonstrating how they’re being good stewards of their resources.
Here’s why we love the City of Maplewood’s performance dashboard:
- Everything about the performance dashboard is clear, easy to navigate and contextual.
- It shows how the city is progressing against each of the six strategic priorities set and provides an overall strategic plan progress indicator.
- The dashboard combines both qualitative data (progress updates submitted by staff) and quantitative data (metrics). Charts and graphs are used throughout to show progress against key outcome indicators.
- The team does a great job of providing context for the dashboard. There is a written description on the homepage explaining what a strategic plan is all about, and how city leaders developed the plan for Maplewood.
- Updates are well-written and easy to understand.
- The dashboard is embedded directly into a page on the city’s website so visitors can stay on the same page as they explore the dashboard.
You can learn more about how Maplewood drives strategy to the front line here.
Broward County is a big organization serving a community of 1.9 million residents. They provide a huge number of services and lines of business.
The Broward County team uses their public dashboard to simplify and share with the community what they’re doing, the impact they’re making and the value of local government.
Their mantra is that the dashboard should be meaningful, attractive and easy to understand.
They do a fantastic job on all 3 fronts.
Here’s why it’s a great local government dashboard example:
- The dashboard is driven by performance measures. Charts and graphs clearly show progress against performance targets.
- It looks great. The dashboard is customized to match the county’s brand colors.
- It’s simply laid out and easy to understand. Lots of white space and little scrolling required.
- Each strategic priority has a “Fast Facts” section that gives context to the performance measures and provides links to additional information.
Let’s head back to Scottsdale here. As well as a beautiful strategic plan performance dashboard, they also provide the public with a quarterly performance report in a scorecard format. This report provides progress updates regarding the key performance measures included in the annual budget book.
We love it because:
- It is entirely measures-driven. Just the numbers.
- It uses a scorecard format to show whether the city is on track, above or below target for each measure.
- By hovering over each chart, you get a clear description of what each performance measure means and context for the results for each reporting period.
- The measures selected are meaningful and tell a story. Rather than just reporting workloads, they use outcome measures that point to the effectiveness and efficiency of the programs.
The Wyandotte County & Kansas City strategic plan dashboard is clean, uncluttered and informative.
We also love it because:
- It’s super easy to navigate and understand.
- There is a clear description on how to use the dashboard and a link to read more about the mission and strategic direction of the Unified Government.
- Each goal and objective is explained with a series of concise bullet points, including any associated targets.
- The dashboards combines both qualitative data (plan progress updates) and quantitative data (progress made against performance measures) in the same public dashboard. Charts and graphs sit alongside written progress updates so residents get contextual insight into how the Unified Government is performing.
- You can expand each chart for more detail and even download the data into a .csv file. Pretty cool.
With $20 million of new city investment, Ferndale city leaders are keen to show responsible use of resources and accountability to the public.
Having a publicly-available performance dashboard is a key part of their strategy to engage the community and demonstrate how the new investment money is being put to good use.
Ferndale citizens can engage in the areas of the city strategic plan that interest them. They can drill down into as much detail as they need, see what has already been achieved and understand how their requests fit into the work and plans already underway.
Kara Sokol, Director of Communications, explains it best: “If I were to go out there and say, ‘Hey everybody, look we have this really cool maturation plan and we’re going to do 182 things over the next three years,’ not a single person would care or engage with that. People care about things that relate to them. So if you don’t really care about development or parks or the school system, but you’re very invested in sustainability, then that’s the piece you’re going to want to know about.”
Here’s why we love the City of Ferndale strategic plan dashboard:
- Updates are detailed and well-written.
- The homepage of the dashboard includes the city’s mission, vision, guiding principles and values. The team does a great job of tying everything back to an overarching vision.
- It’s honest. Like most complex plans, some things are on track, some have experienced disruption and some have been discontinued. Nothing is hidden.
You can learn more about how the Ferndale team is executing on a complex strategic plan here.
The City of Cleveland Heights Master Plan dashboard is a great example of local government transparency. The team does a number of unique things with their dashboard.
Here’s what’s great about it:
- The Cleveland Heights team not only provides an interactive public dashboard, they also publicly share the quarterly progress reports that are typically generated for City Council eyes only. These reports provide additional detail not usually provided on a public dashboard. The reports include action-level progress updates and the names of city strategic goal owners. Transparency FTW.
- It’s updated regularly at the end of each quarter (and this is called out).
- The dashboard legend is a useful touch.
School District 47 Powell River leads the way in terms of publicly publishing progress against school district objectives.
(Also, yay Canadian neighbors!)
We love their public strategic plan dashboard because:
- The dashboard is updated every month.
- The description provides a ton of context for the dashboard, including links to supporting information and the district’s Statement of Belief.
- The homepage provides links to each individual school Improvement Plan within the district. Each school is also responsible for certain actions within the district strategic plan.
- Each top-level goal includes a number of clearly laid-out strategies and each action tracked in the dashboard aligns with one or more of these strategies. This is explicitly called out under each goal.
- The Powell River team uses imagery well throughout the dashboard to bring their performance story to life.
Conclusion? The very best government performance dashboards have 6 things in common:
1. They are easy to understand and navigate. Lots of whitespace and no clutter.
2. They use color and images well (but sparingly) to help tell a performance story and engage visitors.
3. They provide context for the results displayed.
4. They get updated regularly (at least quarterly).
5. They are transparent. The good, the bad and the discontinued.
6. They provide a mixture of both qualitative data (progress updates submitted by staff) and quantitative data (metrics) to paint a full picture of progress.