Article – SMART Performance Management System (PMS)

Updated: May 25

A new software application for Strategic Plan Development and Annual Plan Preparation for Valued Service Delivery for the Public Sector

By Bruce Moepye Managing Director

Gen2 Enterprise Services SA (Pty) Ltd

20 May 2021





Do you experience challenges during your strategic planning cycle? Is your Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan easily approved and passed through the legislature in time for the commencement of implementation from day one of the fiscal year?


Are you happy with your strategic objective measures of performance and more importantly, is your plan going to ensure your organisation is not only compliant when audited, but sustainable in the long-term?

Most relevant, however, will your plan result in the expected level of service by your customers, including both public sector and political leaders?


Gen2 Enterprise Services, earlier this week, launched a unique and ground-breaking SMART Performance Management System application to address the above questions and many other challenges observed over the past 20 years, in both government and public entity strategic planning cycles. The SMART Performance Management System has been developed by a team of public sector planning experts, whose combined public sector experience of over 50 years has addressed all government performance management requirements to date.


Experience has shown that most public sector planning starts far too late in the fiscal year, resulting in the planning process being rushed and planners facing intense pressure to meet deadlines. For public sector strategic planners, the annual process is all too often a tiresome and stressful process whilst trying to coordinate a multitude of stakeholders who need to be involved in various parts of the process.


Government’s planning requirements are frequently changed and are becoming more stringent to ensure, not only sustainable performance, but valued service delivery to all people in South Africa. Strategic planning documents must also be aligned to higher level plans/strategies, such as the National Development Plan, Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and an ongoing stream of Planning Imperatives and Directives. Equally importantly, these documents must also inform lower-level plans that can be cascaded in a logical manner. This fundamental planning principle is critical for government-wide performance improvement.


Observations made during numerous strategic planning projects, are that many public entities appear to be struggling to understand the government’s planning framework stipulations. These include the Theory of Change, the Logic Model / Logic Framework, Balanced Scorecards and even Management by Objectives [MBO]. There is also increasing emphasis being placed on using Activity Based Costing [ABC] during the planning and budgeting process, due to the severe austerity measures being imposed by government across all classes of expenditure. This is in line with the National Treasury’s initiative to conduct performance expenditure reviews within government departments and public entities where service delivery performance vs. expenditure issues have arisen.


Senior managers face many challenges in the planning process. Observations over years of providing strategic planning support have revealed that it often takes a long time for entities to comprehensively adopt planning methodologies prescribed by government. A case in point is the Logical Framework, introduced in 2007, with which many public entities still struggle to comply, as they do with the more recent Theory of Change approach.


The annual planning cycle does not necessarily have to be like this.


To address these challenges and overcome long, involved and complicated interactions with consultants facilitating the strategic planning process, a software application has been developed by Gen2 Enterprise Services and their associates and aptly named the SMART Performance Management System [hereinafter SMART PMS].


The SMART PMS guides the strategic planning process that includes 5-Year and Annual Plan development, through a series of templates that conform to all government standards and legislative / regulatory requirements. The SMART PMS’s templates enable the strategic planning process to be easily managed by planning, and monitoring and evaluation personnel. If needed, expert strategic planning guidance and support is available for customisation, utilisation and adoption of the software.


Making the SMART PMS software widely available to government, along with mentoring and coaching support should enable government entities to be far less dependent of consultants during the entire planning cycle, whilst still ensuring compliance.


The SMART PMS software is a web-based end-to-end performance management application encompassing the entire planning, monitoring & evaluation and reporting cycle for all spheres of government, including national, provincial, municipal and related entities.


SMART PMS software meets all of the performance management standards set by the Presidency’s Department of Monitoring and Evaluation to ensure valued service delivery. The software also complies with the requirements set by the Auditor-General to ensure the integrity of reported strategic performance information, as well as future reporting improvements. Finally, and most importantly, the software complies with National Treasury’s requirements to ensure that allocated budgets deliver optimal performance for a well-run government.


The SMART PMS’s results-based approach reaffirms the principles of accountability, ownership and inclusiveness via the strongly advocated logic model framework. In addition, the linked organisational strategic planning and performance cycle couples with human resources management and performance cycles through performance agreements, workplans, personal development plans and quarterly and annual performance assessments.


The risks of not effectively implementing a 5-Year Strategic or Annual Plan can also be managed by the SMART PMS software. Such risks can be timeously mitigated using SMART PMS's templates to generate quarterly risk reports.


What to measure to enable effective performance delivery is a challenge every strategic planner faces. Choosing meaningful indicators, that are S-M-A-R-T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) to drive performance, will ensure sustainable performance, rather than selecting measures and targets that are easy to achieve for the sake of compliance. The SMART PMS software addresses the development of performance indicators that matter in achieving the long-term sustainability of each and every public sector organisation.


The solution contains important features relevant to each of the stages in the annual planning cycle:


PLAN DEVELOPMENT

  • Automated Publication of Planning Documents - SMART PMS has the ability to generate all types of strategic planning documents, in line with the stipulated frameworks required by the Government’s National / Provincial and Public Entities, as well as Local Government (e.g., Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plans, Integrated Development Plans, Service Delivery Budget Implementation Plans, and all Operational Plans).

  • Staffing Responsibility, Allocation and Switching - Easy assignment of responsibilities to senior staff responsible for the achievement of impacts, outcomes and outputs. The change of responsibilities through transfers / promotions or new hires is easily managed, while keeping data reported in previous quarters by different staff members separate and intact.

  • Cross-cutting Activities - Activities completed in one strategic project often contribute to the completion of outputs for another project. SMART PMS software effectively manages these interdepen dencies and allows the progress of activities to be reported across all projects.

  • Dynamic Institutional Organisational Structures - Institutional structures can be modified on a quarterly basis without affecting the previous quarter’s reports, ensuring reports stay relevant and appropriate.

MONITORING AND EVALUTION

  • Export Performance Data to PDF or Excel - SMART PMS enables formatted and accurate information to be accessed for monitoring and evaluation at the click of a button and the subsequent export into documents, printing or presentations.

  • Monitoring and the Built-in Self Audit Process - SMART PMS’s functionality is fully supportive of all information required by both internal and external auditors to ensure a clean audit.

  • Performance Evaluations - The evaluation functionality within SMART PMS allows for monitoring and evaluation to review information to ensure accuracy and completeness before reporting.

  • Performance Data Visualisation - SMART PMS software enables evaluated data to be visually portrayed in a number of formats for reporting and presentation.

  • Performance Information / Portfolios of Evidence [POE] – The software provides for on-line uploading of Portfolios of Evidence for audit purposes.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

  • Integrated Employee Performance Management - Integrated employee performance and organisational performance is linked through employee workplans, personnel scorecards and performance assessments.

  • Strategic Project Management - Project management functionality includes the linking of budget and expenditure to outputs and outcomes, thereby enabling the cost-of-service delivery to be quantified and improved upon.

IMPLEMENTATION RISK

  • Strategic Risk Assessment and Reporting - Provides for the reporting on strategic and operational risks that impact the implementation of strategic objectives and the attainment of targets.

PERFORMANCE REPORTING

  • Customisable Real-Time Performance Reports - Reports can be self-tailored according to the requirements of the institution, including all performance information that needs to be highlighted at month-end for management action or any time an interim report is required.

  • Multiple Reporting Periods - SMART PMS software supports monthly / quarterly / mid-year and annual reporting cycles and allows organisations to choose the level of detail that is most applicable to their specific needs.

  • Multi-Level Reporting - Staff acting in multiple positions can report performance information across all areas of responsibility.

  • Multiple Approval Levels for Reports - SMART PMS allows for multiple levels of approval to verify the accuracy of operational data submitted. As soon as performance data is captured, it is instantly available to be reviewed, queried, rejected or approved.

SOLUTION TECHNICAL ASPECTS

  • Web-based Application - SMART PMS operates on a web-based portal that is easily accessible from any computer or mobile device with a stable internet connection. No specialised hardware is required, thus keeping infrastructure costs low.

  • Configurable “look and feel” with entities’ branding - the SMART PMS application can be configured to reflect an entity’s branding, including on all generated documentation.

  • Information Security - all data is secured and backed up at predetermined intervals.

  • Secure Access - Password controlled access and information access restriction levels use a single-user login account.

TRAINING AND SUPPORT

  • User Training