It is not uncommon for many project-oriented organization, especially in public sector, to lack strategic alignment. There might be hundreds of exciting projects run by bright individuals within one organization, but nobody really knows how effective they are compared to others, let alone which initiatives should be prioritised. Launching a new project under such conditions becomes more of a voluntary act of a single decision-maker rather than a strategic business decision.
Let’s take as an example a local council in a big UK city. It works on a series of projects with multiple stakeholders and financing sources, including NHS, police department, social workers, local transport company etc. Although the ultimate goal is the same – to ensure the wellbeing of residents of the borough, there isn’t much alignment of what all these stakeholders are doing. Sometimes the same troubled family can be visited by 3-4 different different social services which track their priorities separately.
As organizations grow bigger and projects multiply, they often start lacking unified vision, let alone when they are subject to multiple reporting lines. Unfortunately, at a certain point being simply a good specialist is not enough – coordination becomes no less important than management skills. This is where data specialists can help.
It might be a good idea to ask data specialists to help you create a set of KPIs which will allow you to compare apples to apples. To be able to judge, data specialists need to know what kind of data you already have and how it has been collected, as well as what your final objectives are. Please, note that this data should be in a machine-readable format, ideally in Excel.
For example, if you are running 100 social projects and you know that next year financing will be cut, which should you choose?
Here are some of the things you may want to consider:
a) how much resources each of the projects requests (i.e. people involved, time and money)?
b) how scalable is the experience and how significant the result for similar projects in the future would be?
c) how can you track and compare the outcomes? What would be a good indication of success?
d) is there an interdependence between the projects? For example, can we say that families who participated in Early prevention program are 30% less likely to get into the police program for Troubled families? If this is the case, even though you may not have any separate efficiency tracking for Early prevention program, you will know that it has an indirect impact on other projects so should not be killed.