Measuring service performance is a challenge for most human service agencies. Service performance is more than clients-served, contacts-made, sessions-conducted, or procedures-performed. Service performance is measured in progressive changes in client condition, reaching a point, specific to each client, where the client can depart service, no longer needing the help they came for.
Alpha Community Services (ACS) is an example of a non-profit agency that, over a number of years, increased the number and effect of its services. ACS receives public funding with which it employs 21 staff to deliver financial assistance and employment services to more than 1,000 clients per year. ACS services enable clients to acquire regular, fulltime employment, to restore their self-sufficiency. Over the course of six years, ACS made strategic changes in the way services are provided to clients, enabling most of them to achieve more of their employment goals, and ultimately, more of them to achieve employment that restored their self-sufficiency.
ACS uses three performance measures, the effort made by staff to help their clients, the effect their effort has, enabling changes in client condition, and the impact that progressive changes in condition leaves with some of their clients at their departure from service. With the same number of staff, year by year, changes in ACS service processes increased staff effort – the hours of care rendered to clients – by 73%. The chart, below, illustrates ACS success in increasing staff effort.
With other refinements in client needs assessment, service taxonomies, relationships with sister agencies, staff training and service recording, ACS increased effect – the number of client goal achievements – by an average of 140% over the next five years, as illustrated in the chart, below.
The result of progressive changes in client condition was increased service impact , enabling an average of 53% more clients to depart services employed and self-sufficient, as illustrated in the chart, below.