Government departments and state organisations are today facing challenges of enhancing performance, increasing customer satisfaction and retention, and improving productivity and efficiency, while streamlining business processes and driving service delivery.

Rather than slowing down to examine every service delivery requirement and gap through a microscope, progressive local governments throughout the world are taking a more holistic approach by focusing on execution from top to bottom, with clearly defined goals, strategies and metrics.

Local government in South Africa has undergone much transformation since 2000. Although much of the change has been to correct imbalances, inequities and disparities within our local communities as a result of apartheid, change has also been motivated by national government’s realisation that, as with governments throughout the world, there is a need to modernise all spheres of government.

Part of this transformation process at a local government level in South Africa has been to ensure that municipalities become more responsive to the communities’ needs. The guiding principles for this transformation are contained in the white paper on the ‘Transformation of the Public Service (1995)’ and the ‘Batho Pele White Paper (1997)’. This has informed the Municipal Systems Act: Act 32 of 2000 of which Chapter 6 determines that municipalities will have a “performance management system” to promote a culture of performance management amongst the political structures, political office bearers, councillors and administration. The performance management system must ensure that the municipality administers its affairs in an economical, effective, efficient and accountable manner.

Point of Reference: Chapter 6 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act No. 32 of 2000), requires local government to:

* Develop a performance management system;
* Set targets, monitor and review performance based on indicators linked to the Integrated Development Plan (IDP);
* Publish an annual report on performance management for the councillors, staff, the public and other spheres of government;
* Incorporate and report on a set of general indicators prescribed nationally by the minister responsible for local government;
* Conduct an internal audit on performance before tabling the report;
* Have the annual performance report audited by the Auditor-General; and
* Involve the community in setting indicators and targets and reviewing municipal performance.

As a result, a number of municipalities in different provinces are working with TIS Holdings in developing performance management system strategies. In some instances expert teams are deployed to implement an automated system. The success is attained by forming teams within the organisation to ensure a clear view and a true reflection of performance throughout the organisation and the departments as presented by the departmental leadership. The process ensures that all activities are consistently captured to reflect a true state of affairs.

The assessment process is a vital part of automating information from the manual performance documents. Secondly it is important to understand the characteristics of the organisation’s culture prior to implementation, in order to evaluate its impact that the organisational culture can have on the implementation process.

In some instances preparation for the project plan can be a significant challenge. Another consideration is desired commitment to the success of the project and prepared by the leadership to take ownership in terms of embracing the project from the outset. The lack thereof could lead to continued crisis of key line management and staff not honouring appointments. As a result of the various historical attempts to implement the system, it is understandable that the impact of implementing a system to electronically start monitoring performance (ie, the change required in behaviour) is in all likelihood not clearly appreciated by all parties concerned.

Since the performance management system needs to become a critical part of weekly activities for all managers (ie, it is a business control function), the “journey” in attempting to reach the state of the system “automation” needs to be fully appreciated by all parties.

Therefore, we recommended the following steps:

* Since all managers need to learn how to use the system and since they would probably prefer to be coached on how to do this work at their own pace due to busy schedules, we suggested that more intensive one-on-one interactions be scheduled within each department as part of the implementation process. The outcomes of such an approach to all directors and managers would be to:
* Ensure that they actively participate in managing their daily activities that drive results for their defined performance indicators.
* Train and coach the managers in being able to define suitable performance indicators that help to align IDP, SDBIP and Individual level performance assessment requirements for the next version of their KPIs that will inevitably evolve in the future. This would help to overcome the current problem of different forms of measurement for different purposes, and greatly assist in ensuring that actual targets are defined for those indicators that are worthy of measurement.

During the training session with the individual Departments, it is we emphasise that major benefits to the organisation would be realised if the business processes are properly mapped, so there can be a visible display of how the municipality functionally operates. Cognisance should be given to prescribed in best practice format by treasury regulations, public service act PFMA, MFMA etc.

To a large extent this would assist greatly in educating staff on what is expected from them from a regulatory point of view, and secondly, departments to clearly appreciate their involvement in processes that often span between the departments. Our role would enable a smooth management of the entire implementation of this performance management system using best practice project management tools and methodologies and providing support throughout the project to ensure that the system is fully utilised for the benefit of the entity.

The performance management system will also benefit the human resource function within the organisation by identifying gaps regarding the essential skills required for the specific functions, and also by managing and monitoring individual’s performance, as it will provide the employees with clear understanding of job descriptions, regular feedback about performance, advice and steps to be taken to improve performance, and the reward for good performance, so that can provide applicable training as per required skills.

TIS Holdings fills the need of the organisation by offering a true performance management system that has a wide breadth of functionalities. The system has got the process guide module for process modelling that also allows the client to manage and view the performance of the activities within the departments. It is a user-friendly system and easy to use, easy to deploy, so clients can use the system within weeks of initial implementation. We are particularly experienced and focused on meeting the needs of the client with this system that is powerful yet easy to deploy, easy to use and customise, and affordable.

The following are the “key business benefits” of the performance management system:

* Ensure goal alignment, which replaces fragmented, dis-contiguous top-down planning with a seamless, collaborative planning process that closes the loop between business strategies, business measures such as key performance indicators (KPIs) and business actions.
* Increased business agility, which provides decision-makers with immediate access to mission-critical information.
* Focuses on results rather than personalities, which helps the responsible and accountable resources to focus on the results.
* Aligns organisational goals and objectives with organisational processes and activities.
* Cultivates a system-wide, long-term view of the organisation.
* Produces meaningful measurements.
* Validates expectations to verify whether grand visions are realistic or not.
* Supports ongoing communication, feedback and dialogue about organisational goals.
* Performance is seen as an ongoing process, rather than a one-time, snapshot event.
* Provokes focus on the needs of customers, whether internal or external.
* Continuing focus and analysis on results helps to correct several myths, eg, “learning means results”, “job satisfaction produces productivity”, etc.
* Produces specificity in commitments and resources.
* Provides specificity for comparisons, direction and planning.
* Redirects attention from bottom-up approaches (e.g. doing job descriptions, performance reviews, etc, first and then “rolling up” results to the top of the organisation) to top-down approaches (e.g. ensuring all subsystem goals and results are aligned first with the organisation’s overall goals and results).

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