What's the Score?

Last week, I introduced you to two tools that the City of Fort Collins uses to enhance their brand, the City of Fort Collins Community Performance Measurement Dashboard and the “CityView” video series. These both show residents and other stakeholders how the City is consistently delivering on the commitments they make as an innovative government organization.

The City of Fort Collins mission of “exceptional service for an exceptional community” would be empty words unless that exceptional service is easy to see in action. The vast majority of residents report that interactions with City employees are informative and useful, but with Fort Collins’ population nearing 160,000 people, not everyone will have direct contact with a City employee on a regular basis. One of the the challenges for staff is to give the community easy ways to see what their local government is doing for them – and do that in a way that is both credible and aligns with their reputation as a friendly and accessible government organization.

The Performance Dashboard does this by being a neutral and transparent “scorecard” that provides a quarterly snapshot of the City’s progress toward key commitments they’ve made to the community. Take a moment to check out the dashboard at one of the links embedded in this post.

When you dig into some of the data, such as this chart that speaks to how fast police respond to high priority calls, you’ll notice a few things. First, the performance dashboard is a tool that really appeals to those who enjoy charts, graphs and hard data. It’s got a clean look, it loads quickly and it’s pretty easy to understand.

Second, you’ll find a column of tabs below each chart and toward the left that you can click. Information that appears when you click those tabs explains each metric further and answers the crucial question “Why Is This Important?” Providing context, through this and other tabs such as an "Analysis of Performance" gives readers a more rounded and informed story. It shows what the City is doing at any given time to continually improve those metrics. The qualitative analysis in those tabs helps complement and clarify the quantitative numbers in the charts and tell a more complete story.

By providing this performance dashboard that can be accessed by anyone with a web browser at anytime, the City of Fort Collins is doing three things:

  1. They are creating systems that make it easy to measure and report results.
  2. They are making sure those systems can help clearly convey stories that people need to hear.
  3. They are constantly asking themselves not only what can be measured, but what should be measured.

Looking at that third point, you’ll notice there are some metrics where the "City Organization’s Impact on Performance" is low. The local unemployment rate is a notable example of this. There are many other factors that influence that metric.

Why do they include that data if they don’t have a high influence of control over the results? Again, it comes down to the City’s brand as a friendly and transparent government organization. In this case, they know folks who are searching for that statistic often look to the City’s website and Performance Dashboard to find it.  They want to make things easy to find, so they include it.

But, just because you can measure and report metrics on something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. So, how do you decide? In our post next week, we’ll dig more into that topic. We'll also take a look at the “CityView” video series and how it plays a vital role of enhancing the City of Fort Collins' reputation.

- Timothy J. Allen, VP & Director of Strategic Communication