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How should Service Coordinators measure performance and track outcomes?

Performance measurement involves monitoring and reporting on key metrics that indicate whether a program is successfully carrying out planned activities that are necessary to achieve desired outcomes. By measuring performance and tracking resident outcomes, ROSS Service Coordinators can assess the results of their ROSS program, identify areas in need of adjustment, and make a strong case for additional program support when building partnerships or seeking additional support from service providers, funders, and PHA leadership.

Three interconnectioning gears: Activities (The eligible, funded activities, and services provided as part of the ROSS program.) Outputs (Direct products of program activities; indicate the size and scope of completed activities and services delivered.). Outcomes (Benefits or changes experienced by program participants; indicate program effectiveness). Efficiency Metrics is a wrench turning the Activities gear and says: Measures how well the program operates; indicate whether the program has the infrastructure in place to support program activities and desired outcomes. Indicators is a magnifying glass looking at the outcomes gear and says: Metrics used to measure achivement of outcomes; should be measurable, quantifiable, and associated with a specific goal and period of time.

The remainder of this section covers key terms in performance measurement—outputs and program efficiency metrics, outcomes, and indicators—and how they apply to the ROSS program. (See the textbox for more information on each of these key terms.) In the discussion below, we illustrate these terms by using an example of a ROSS program that works with families with children and has a goal of improving children’s educational achievement.

Key terms

Outputs are the direct products of a program’s activities and services.  They are usually described numerically to indicate the size and/or scope of the services and products delivered by a program, or as participation rates in program activities. Outputs indicate whether a program was delivered to the intended audience at the intended “dose.” Other terms for outputs are “deliverables” or “units of service.”

Program efficiency metrics are measures of how well the program is operating.  They measure the extent to which the program has the necessary infrastructure, processes and procedures to support the achievement of target outcomes for residents.

Outcomes are the benefits or changes experienced by participants as a result of the outputs provided by the ROSS program. Tracking outcomes provides an indication of the effectiveness of the ROSS program.  Outcomes can be quantitative and qualitative.

Indicators are the metrics for outcomes. To provide a meaningful indication of progress, indicators should be measurable and quantifiable, and reference a specific time period within which the outcome should be achieved.

To learn more about performance measurement, see Measuring Outcomes  (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Compassion Capital Fund).