11 Performance Management
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Measuring Performance

Using indicators and measures, and setting targets that reflect the strategic goals and objectives of the organisation is an integral part of managing performance. It is a proven way to focus activity and resources to make sustained improvements and achieve continuous improvement of service delivery. In other words what gets measured usually gets done.

The process of using targets to achieve improvements is termed ‘Performance Management’ and it can be applied at both organisational and station levels together with other levels within the Service. The performance management framework is illustrated in the following diagram:

The performance management framework

The setting of objectives, determining measures (indicators) and setting targets for many front line services will be outcomes from the Integrated Risk Management Planning process. For the areas not covered, in particular, support services, the objectives and targets will continue to be developed within the current planning arrangements.

For the indicators themselves, the existing suite of Best Value indicators is far from perfect and does not cover all relevant objectives of the Fire and Rescue Service and its partner organisations. For Community Safety, the objectives address specific types of fire, unwanted alarms and casualties. For fires, these are initially broken down into ‘deliberate’ and ‘non-deliberate (accidental)’ which challenges the traditional approach that uses primary and secondary. An initial list of suggested indicators for all of the front line services is being developed, however this will need further refinement.

Targets will be set at various levels in particular at organisational and station level. It is anticipated that targets will be set at organisational level and devolved to stations, however, it is recognised that this is an area that will need further development.

To achieve the targets, most of which are aimed at improving on existing performance, action must be taken. This will be of two types. The first is where a process must be changed and the second is where it is necessary to use existing techniques but apply them in such a way that improved performance is achieved.

To identify the most appropriate improvement action to take will require problems to be identified and the causes to be analysed. This should be relatively straight forward where the problems are associated with a single process. However, for Community Safety, some improvement actions will be established in the IRMP, for example, the use of HFRAs to address dwelling fires and the associated casualties.

For other Community Safety areas, whilst the problems should be obvious, the process of analysis to identify a solution that is likely to succeed is somewhat more complex and may involve reviewing performance data and taking account of the knowledge of individuals. It is again recognised that more detailed guidelines will need to be developed to cover actual problem scenarios. It has also been recognised that the current knowledge management and project management needs to be improved to better support the analysis process.

Having taken the action, it is important that its success is evaluated. Periodically, the actual performance of all of the key indicators will be measured and compared with that targeted. Producing comparisons is relatively straight forward as, for the key indicators, most of the data is available on the existing system. However it is evident that this would be more effective with a computer system that specifically supported performance management and we have recently obtained such a system.

The outcome of the comparison will result in management action being taken:

  • If it is predicted that the target will be met, no changes to the current approach are necessary.
  • If the target is likely to be bettered, the action may be to revise the target to reflect what is predicted to be achieved or, resource may be directed to other targets that are unlikely to be achieved.
  • If it is predicted that the target will not be achieved, the reasons need to be analysed and appropriate action taken.

To ensure that the above process is working successfully, periodic control reports will be produced for review by management and the Authority. The two key documents are the station and the corporate (organisational) reports. The reports need to be based on the above performance management cycle and in particular, if it is predicted that a target is unlikely to be achieved, they must summarise why and what action is to be taken to improve the situation. Conversely, if the target is to be bettered, they must also explain why, i.e. what actions have resulted in such a good performance.

At station level the performance comments should be linked to the specific actions undertaken. This will enable good practice to be identified that can be used elsewhere. At corporate level, the comments should summarise the comments of the station reports. Further reports may be produced at other levels where the comments on performance should again reflect those made at station level.

For some indicators, the impact of a campaign to reduce the level should be relatively easy to evaluate. However, where the numbers of a problem are relatively small, the impact on the problem is virtually impossible to measure. In such cases, there is a need to measure the impact on ‘subsidiary’ objectives that are based on the messages of the campaign. For example, the messages relate to fitting smoke alarms, calling out the Service rather than risk injury, getting rid of chip pans, etc. If people have responded to these messages, then the risk of the problem occurring will have been reduced. Evaluating improvement actions or campaigns will be key to achieving sustainable performance improvements.

Further details of specific targets and measures are contained in the accompanying Action Plan.

Station Locality Managers

We also intend to pilot a new concept of Station Locality Managers. This will be a front line role aimed at monitoring and improving station performance in a wide range of areas, as well as contributing to partnership working.

The role is similar to a “practice manager” in a GP surgery to the extent that they “point” managers and supervisors to the proper use of the policies, procedures and systems of the organisation, they do not “line manage” the relevant managers.

Their main areas of activity would cover:-

  • Data management and accuracy
  • Community liaison
  • Communications with partners, station personnel, etc.
  • Monitoring performance
  • Voluntary Sector working promotion

The Authority wishes to extend voluntary sector working and is committed to investing more resources into improved and increased working with voluntary sector bodies and agencies. We want to ensure that such bodies are able to play a full and developing role in our plans for the future.

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