4. Performance Framework
The Board's performance framework will allow the Board to assess whether - and at what rate - progress towards the higher level productivity, equality, wellbeing, and sustainability objectives is being made.
Ideally, the Board should know that if an agency uses resources to do something (fund a college place, support a business to export, provide funding for apprenticeship programmes) predictable consequences will follow. That means being able to trace the links in the chain that run from inputs (e.g. how much is spent) to activities (e.g. the number of college places funded) to outputs (e.g. the number of people gaining a HNC) to outcomes (e.g. the proportion of the workforce with qualifications) to impacts (the resultant changes in productivity, equality, wellbeing and sustainability). That is the job of a performance framework.
Inputs : The money agencies spend and the people they employ
Activities : The things that get done with resources
Outputs : What is produced as a result of the activities
Outcomes : What is achieved and is measured using NPF indicators
Impacts : The ultimate effects on productivity, equally, wellbeing and sustainability
At present, not all of the information exists to understand each link in these chains. In particular, work needs to be done to understand fully the outcomes and impacts that stem from the work of the agencies. Rather than wait for all of this new information, which will take some time to assemble, the Board intends to implement pragmatic solutions now, working through the newly created Analytical Unit, which was established in March of this year.
The Analytical Unit is developing a measurement framework which will allow the Board to:
- Track progress against outcomes and impacts using relevant indicators from the newly refreshed National Performance Framework (NPF). This will enable the Board to see quickly where Scotland is performing well or not.
- Use the agencies' management information and existing performance frameworks to shed light on the agencies' contribution to outcomes and impacts. Importantly, agency level information about inputs, activities and outputs will be aligned with the NPF to ensure that there is a clear understanding of which agency activities contribute to which outcome and consistency in terms of the outcomes which are measured.
- Undertake, over time, detailed evaluation and customer research work to better understand the effects of inputs on impacts.
The framework, developed by the Analytical Unit will take due account of the importance of regional differences and differences between equalities groups and include specific breakdowns by these characteristics where available.
The roots of success are deeper than these indicators alone, however, which is why the Board will also augment this framework with:
1. Feedback from customers - the Board will pay particular attention to their assessments of the quality of the services provided and the ease with which they can be used. We are actively championing the people who use the services that the agencies provide - be they individuals employers, businesses or others.
2. Aspects of collaboration and culture change - we know that the development of a collaborative culture across the agencies is a feature that could enhance the impact of their activities.
An ideal framework requires strong links between each component of the logic chain i.e. there should be well-evidenced relationships between agencies' activities and impacts on productivity, equality, wellbeing, and sustainability. Discussions with the agencies have highlighted the challenges around estimating these impacts and understanding how the outputs and outcomes of the actions of the agencies feed through to productivity and inclusive growth. The Analytical Unit will lead on evaluation and research work to strengthen our evidence base around these linkages.
Actions to be taken now are:
AU (A1). The Analytical Unit to lead on work to develop the performance framework for the Strategic Board.
AU (A2). Analytical Unit to lead on an evaluation and research programme to better determine the impact from significant agency activities.