sustainable organization

6 Steps to Building a More Sustainable Organization

For social sector organizations, your mission, vision and values are the internal forces that guide your work and inspire the innovative application of resources to solve complex social challenges. Your strategic plan builds off these foundational elements, followed by performance measurement, program evaluation and continuous improvements across all of your programs, services, and operational functions. But how can your organization ensure that the maximum benefits accrue to all aspects of its operations, beneficiaries, and stakeholders, regardless of what external forces come into play? Here are six ways that you can lay the groundwork for successful performance management initiatives and work toward long-term sustainability in 2021.

1. Document everything.

Outcomes-based (as opposed to outputs-based) performance management mindset is required to achieve maximum success. Good performance management starts with a clear framework (often called a logic model) that outlines: what you do, how well you do it, and how people are better off because of your work. This theory of change highlights that what you do contributes to improved outcomes for those you serve. To achieve predictable and repeatable results, its key to document how you do everything. All of your organization’s processes, procedures, operations, volunteer initiatives, fundraising, programs and services needs to be thoroughly mapped out.

2. Create, eliminate, simplify.

If documentation doesn’t exist, create it. If it does exist, channel your inner four-year old and ask why it’s needed, what can be streamlined, simplified or even eliminated altogether? It’s amazing how many times legacy processes remain in place simply because it’s just the way it’s always been done. In addition to identifying outdated processes, unnecessary redundancies, and opportunities for increasing efficiencies, you’ll also uncover gaps that, over time, will cost the organization a great deal of energy and resources to solve the same recurring issues. Take the time now to document them to save the organization time (and avoid employee frustration) in the future.

3. Outsource and automate.

Which of these processes can be automated by implementing a technology solution, or outsourced to achieve greater efficiency and reduce cost? (We have several clients who outsource their performance management data analysis on a monthly basis, so that they can focus more on delivering mission-related programs and services.)

4. Develop an internal knowledge base.

By centralizing all of your organization’s internal processes, all of your team members will be empowered to access, reference, modify, update and improve your operations at any given time, on an ongoing basis.

5. Develop an external knowledge base.

Make all volunteer functions easily accessible so that volunteers can feel engaged and equipped to deliver services according to your quality standards for consistency. By documenting volunteer job descriptions and their associated processes, you’ll drastically reduce the time it takes you to train volunteers. In an ideal situation, volunteers will train new volunteers, further reducing staff time and resources.

6. Two-deep subject matter experts.

Once you’ve completed the first five steps, identify the most critical processes that are essential to the organization’s operations. At any given time, at least two employees should be able to perform these. Not everyone needs to know everything, but this two-deep policy ensures that all essential processes can continue to move forward without any delay, should someone leave the organization, take sick leave, or other circumstances that require a second person to step in to facilitate.

How Measurement Resources Helps Organizations Achieve Sustainability

Whether you are preparing to begin your five-year strategic planning process, or simply looking to ensure your organization is prepared for exponential growth and scalability, Measurement Resources’ team members provide a fresh, unbiased perspective to help document your current processes and identify opportunities for increased efficiencies. From creating a program manual to conducting an entire organizational audit, our team of experts prepare organizations for performance measurement success.

Contact us today to learn how we can collaborate to achieve high performance and long-term sustainability together.

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