Comparative Performance Measurement. (Book Reviews).
Elaine Morley, Scott P. Bryant, and Harry P. Hatry
Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute Press (124 pp)
Reviewed by W. Anderson Williams, policy analyst, GFO GFO GEOSAT (Geophysical/Geodetic Satellite) Follow-On
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In recent years, local governments have begun to explore the use of comparative performance measurement, or CPM (1) (Critical Path Method) A project management planning and control technique implemented on computers. The critical path is the series of activities and tasks in the project that have no built-in slack time. . Also known as benchmarking, CPM refers to the practice of comparing one organization 's performance to another. The Urban Institute's Comparative Performance Measurement is a step-by-step guide for using CPM to improve the management and operations of government agencies and programs. In its pages, public and nonprofit A corporation or an association that conducts business for the benefit of the general public without shareholders and without a profit motive.
Nonprofits are also called not-for-profit corporations. Nonprofit corporations are created according to state law. managers can learn the steps involved in a comparative performance effort, the pitfalls of performance comparisons, and how to analyze benchmarked data once it has been collected.
Although people may not recognize it as such, comparative performance measurement is actually quite common in everyday life. Places Rated Almanac's ranking of metropolitan areas and U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges" are well-known examples of consumer-oriented comparisons. Using these examples as a springboard, the authors proceed to build the case for the use of CPM in government. They explain, for example, how comparative performance measurement complements total quality management and managed competition initiatives. Their discussions are punctuated by examples from well-known CPM efforts such as the International City/County Managers Association's Comparative Performance Measurement Program and the North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. Local Government Performance Measurement Project.
The authors provide clear, concise guidance on CPM so that busy public managers need not reinvent re·in·vent
tr.v. re·in·vent·ed, re·in·vent·ing, re·in·vents
1. To make over completely: "She reinvented Indian cooking to fit a Western kitchen and a Western larder" the performance measurement wheel. They offer valuable advice for dealing with common comparison problems, such as accounting for differences among jurisdictions. They also explain the importance of agreeing on clearly defined data elements and procedures for calculating performance measures.
The literature on CPM often gives short shrift short shrift
1. Summary, careless treatment; scant attention: These annoying memos will get short shrift from the boss.
2. Quick work.
a. to important issues, such as what to do with comparative data once it is collected and how to report poor performance. Comparative Performance Measurement provides comprehensive treatment of these areas and others. The authors explore gap analysis techniques and methods for breaking data out by demographic groups. They also offer a number of suggestions for reporting poor performance, from releasing the data "as is to publishing management strategies for closing performance gaps in the future.
Particularly enlightening en·light·en
tr.v. en·light·ened, en·light·en·ing, en·light·ens
1. To give spiritual or intellectual insight to: are the real-world illustrations of comparative performance measurement. The authors provide illustrative il·lus·tra·tive
Acting or serving as an illustration.
Adj. 1. outcome indicators for common local government services so that readers have a baseline for their own CPM efforts. The book also includes an example table of contents and sample pages from performance reports.
Readers will find that the authors devote significant attention to ICMAs benchmarking project. The IGMA IGMA Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance
IGMA Instituto Geografico Militar (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
IGMA International Guild of Miniature Artisans, Ltd. project is one of the largest, oldest, and best-known government CPM initiatives. As such, it is not surprising that the authors selected it as their model. In so doing, however, the book does not benefit from the wisdom of other benchmarking projects. Only cursory cur·so·ry
Performed with haste and scant attention to detail: a cursory glance at the headlines.
[Late Latin curs mention is given to such projects in Kansas City Kansas City, two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850). , Long Beach, South Carolina South Carolina, state of the SE United States. It is bordered by North Carolina (N), the Atlantic Ocean (SE), and Georgia (SW). Facts and Figures
Area, 31,055 sq mi (80,432 sq km). Pop. (2000) 4,012,012, a 15. , Florida, and other areas. Still, the lessons learned from the JOMA project are instructional.
Noticeably absent from the book is a discussion of the benefits that governments have derived from their participation in a CPM project. Few people would dispute the value of comparative performance measurement. However, including case study examples of governments that experienced performance improvements or realized cost savings as a result of their participation in a benchmarking project would have added weight to the argument in favor of CPM.
This text is appropriate for any public or nonprofit manager with a basic understanding of performance measurement. It is particularly useful as a guide to those managers who are considering either starting or joining a comparative performance measurement project.
Comparative Performance Measurement is available for $28 from the Urban Institute Press, 2100 M Street N.W., Washington, DC 30037 (877/UIPRESS), or at www.uipress.org.