| The Greater Phoenix Economic Council doesn’t shy away from evaluating itself. As its president and CEO Rick Weddle explained to listeners at a recent IEDC conference, an organization’s self evaluation is a process that generally has three dimensions:
. Progress – have you done what you said you would do?
. Effectiveness – did it work, and did the effort achieve your objectives?
. Impact – can you show that positive changes have resulted from the work you did?
Evaluation isn’t easy, however. Weddle, who is also chairman of the IEDC Board of Directors, noted that GPEC bases its evaluations on three main areas: operations management, agenda-setting (e.g. determining the organization’s vision, mission, strategy and overall approach to achieving them); and impact achievement (e.g. making progress towards those goals and delivering measurable results.)
Two things, however, make it exceptionally difficult to evaluate an economic development program. One is the matter of timeliness; evaluating a program thoroughly can cost considerable time and money. GPEC, whose mission is to market the Phoenix area to businesses around the globe, deals with the timeliness issue by conducting biennial surveys of the region’s businesses.
Even more problematic is the difficulty in confirming the organization’s role in achieving results. Yes, that corporation you were wooing has decided to build a new corporate office in your area, but was it your persuasive pitch, the efforts of partner organizations, or some geographic or other type of factor that you don’t really control?
Under each impact area, GPEC looks at several different measures. In evaluating its operations management, the council has to ask key questions such as whether the staff is satisfied, qualified and performing well; whether the organization is following its stated strategy; whether or not the revenues generated are meeting the budget; and whether or not the organization is maintaining sufficient cash reserves.
Looking at the subject of organization management more closely, several different criteria are examined to see if GPEC is meeting, or making progress towards, a particular goal. Meeting cash reserve targets, for example, is one of the criteria for evaluating the organization’s performance in resource development and fiscal management. Weddle regards the cash reserve amount as an impact measure, because meeting it indicates GPEC is getting results. But other “effectiveness” measures also are examined, such as retention of existing pledges for contributions and the acquisition of new ones; approvals of public contracts; staff recruitment and retention; and satisfaction of GPEC’s executive committee. All these measures are checked annually. All but executive committee satisfaction are checked quarterly as well, and the cash reserves and pledge numbers are measured monthly.
Evaluating the setting of GPEC’s agenda calls largely for progress measures; have you set the right goals, and how close are you to achieving them? As an example of an organizational performance measure, Weddle looked at the execution of GPEC’s regional economic development strategy. Measurement criteria include implementation of your economic development strategy in cooperation with key partners; engaging new state leaders; engaging the region’s delegation to Washington DC; and keeping stakeholders satisfied with the direction, approach and results of the organization’s activity. GPEC looks at all of these annually, with quarterly checks on relations with state and federal leaders and on ED strategy cooperation.
Regarding organizational impact performance measures, Weddle offered a couple of examples. To see how successful GPEC has been at attracting businesses that offer higher-wage jobs, the organization looks at a host of effectiveness measures, including the amount of capital investment and number of jobs created, both on a monthly basis. Each quarter, they look at those and at average salaries and the number of prospects that actually locate in the area. Once a year, GPEC surveys stakeholders to see if they’re satisfied with the organization’s results. Most important for gauging GPEC’s impact, however, is the amount of payroll generated, because that ultimately shows how successful the council has been at getting more high-wage jobs.
Weddle also looked at how GPEC measures its marketing success. He noted four effectiveness measures evaluated – the number of qualified prospects contacted; the total reach of news and feature articles on Phoenix that GPEC manages to get placed; the return on investment for all this editorial exposure; and stakeholder satisfaction with results. The first three criteria are examined monthly, while shareholders are surveyed annually. The impact measure is positive change in image, which GPEC evaluates through surveys every two years.
(From Business Facilities Online.)