5. Using Performance Measures /

5.1 Identifying information requirements

STANDARD:

We know what information we need to prove that our work makes a difference.

To meet the standard in full, you have identified what information you need to test, support or refine your understanding of the way your work brings about change. This information is able to show whether or not you are making good progress towards the difference you planned to make.

Your social enterprise is likely to want reliable information that can show whether it is making good progress and achieving its planned outcomes.

This depends on having specific, measurable things you can track, which will allow you to assess both progress and impact. These signs of success are usually referred to as indicators, measures and metrics:

  • Indicators are the standards against which you quantify performance and describe what success should look like. They provide a simple way of expressing achievement or the attainment of a goal. For example, the number of jobs created or the percentage of learners achieving a given standard.
  • Performance Measures are values that are quantified against an indicator to help demonstrate progress. All measures are composed of a value (a number) and a unit of measurement. So for example, 20 training places, or 500 children with improved confidence
  • Metrics are calculated or composite measures, such as ratios, which are based on two or more indicators. For example, the cost per client served, or CO2 emission level.

It can be helpful to examine each of your intended outcomes in turn to help decide what data you will need to collect, and what the best indicators of success might be.

Course 5 of the Impact Practice series from the Social Enterprise Institute looks in more depth at how to turn your information requirements into measurable indicators.

It is also important to consider the audience that you will need to communicate information to, including board members, staff, funders and service users. Think about what information they will want to know and what you will want to show. These issues are covered in Section 9.