Performance Management Glossary  

Action plan

A detailed description of the strategies, deadlines, and resource allocation, including the assignment of responsibility, to implement or operationalize a strategic plan.



A process undertaken by an organization to convert inputs into outputs.


Activity-based costing

A methodology that measures actual cost of any activity by combining direct and indirect costs for all.


Activity-based management

A form of management relying on activity-based costing to allocate resources and determine appropriate levels of output.



An examination of data and processes for explanatory purposes.


Balanced scorecard

A management instrument, originally developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton that translates an organization's mission and strategy into a comprehensive set of performance measures.  The standard scorecard measures organizational performance across four perspectives: financial, customers, internal business processes, and learning and growth.


Baldridge Award

The Baldridge Award is given by the President of the United States to businesses manufacturing and service, small and large and to education and health care organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and results.  A pilot program for non-profit and governments was launched in 2006.



A starting point for assessing changes in performance and for establishing objectives or targets for future performance.



A level of achievement against which organizations can measure their own progress.  Benchmarks may be used for comparisons of organizational processes against an internal or external standard.


Bottom up

A process that facilitates the flow of information from lower level employees to upper level management.


Cascading system

A performance measurement system where measures are linked to goals and objectives in a formal strategic plan or list of organization wide priorities.  High level organizational goals and measures correspond to the objectives measured by departments, divisions, and employees.


Citizen Participation

Process in which an organization allows for or solicits feedback from the public concerning the organization's goals, performance measures, allocation of resources, or level of satisfaction
with government services.  


Community-wide outcomes

A desired community condition influenced by an organization’s actions, strategies, and policies, as well as by exogenous factors.



Uniformity of information or measures over successive periods of reporting.  Consistency of measures is important in benchmarking and for comparisons over time.


Continuous improvement

An application of performance measurement that requires constant analysis of internal processes for the purpose of demonstrating performance trends across time.  It is a key component of Total Quality Management and the Baldridge Award.


Control charts

Charts used to monitor a performance measure’s stability over time and help identify potential


Control lines

Lines drawn to identify limits on a control chart to distinguish between normal and abnormal fluctuations in performance data.



A comparison of the cost of a service to the benefits or results derived from that service.  It is calculated by dividing units of outcome to units of input.



Factual information, both quantitative and qualitative, used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, analysis, or calculation.


Data validation

A systematic effort to ensure acceptable quality of performance data.


Direct cost

Expense that is specifically associated with a function and is clearly identifiable to that particular function.  A direct cost can only be assigned to one function.



How well a program achieves its stated goals and objectives.



The relationship between inputs and outputs.  It is calculated by dividing units of output to units of input.



Circumstances and conditions that interact with and affect an organization. These can include economic, political, cultural, and physical conditions inside or outside of the organization.

Environmental Analysis

See SWOT Analysis



A careful examination, analysis, or appraisal; an examination of the reasons or causes of results. 


Explanatory factors

Influences that might affect an organization's performance.  Usually it is used to refer to factors outside the control of the organization that have an effect on performance data.


Family of Measures

The use of input, output, outcome, and efficiency measures to describe the same program or service.



A statement of direction, purpose or intent based on the needs of the community.  Operationally, a goal is a broad statement of what a program expects to achieve sometime in the future.  A goal is a more broadly defined objective, but often the terms goal and objective are used interchangeably.


Government Performance and Results Act (Public Law)

A law that created a long-term goal-setting process to improve federal program effectiveness and public accountability by promoting a new focus on results, service quality, and customer satisfaction.



A suggested practice, policy or procedure that is used to determine a course of action.



Qualitative or quantitative measures of progress toward specified outcomes or goals.  Lagging indicators provide information on past conditions or outcomes, while leading indicators provide information on future conditions or outcomes.


Key performance indicator

A measurable factor most closely linked to the desired end outcome.  For example, the key performance indicator for a child-reading program could be children’s scores on reading tests.


Indirect cost

An expense that cannot be specifically associated with a function.  Indirect costs are assigned to more than one function or purpose.



The financial and non-financial resources that are used to produce an output.  For example, dollars spent, hours worked, materials used, etc.

Internal Analysis

See SWOT Analysis


Logic Model

A visual representation displaying all inputs, outputs, and outcomes along with the links connecting each.  Logic Models are used to link individual inputs to wide program or organizational goals.



A specific quantitative or qualitative assessment of results obtained through a program or activity.  In performance measurement, measures fall into one of the following categories: input, output, outcome, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.



Input measures show the amount of resources, financial or otherwise, used for a specific activity or program. 



Output measures show the quantity of units produced or services rendered by an activity or program. 



Outcome measures report on the result of a given activity or program.  These measures assess activity or program impact and effectiveness and show whether expected results have been achieved.



Efficiency measures record the inputs (costs) per unit of outcome.


Cost Effectiveness

The comparison of the relative inputs and outcomes.  Being cost effective means providing maximum result at the minimum expense.



An enduring statement of purpose; the organization's reason for existence. The mission describes what the organization does, and how and for whom its actions are carried out.



Something to be accomplished in specific, well-defined, and measurable terms and that is achievable within a specific time frame.  Objectives are more specific than goals, but often the terms goals and objectives are used interchangeably.



The result of an action or event.  Outcomes imply a change in behavior or in the environment and are intended to measure progress towards achieving an objective.  An outcome may be initial, intermediate, or long term.


Initial outcome

The result soon after an action, event, or program has begun.


Intermediate outcome

A result during the action, event, or program that is usually temporary or dynamic.  In performance measurement, the hope is that intermediate outcomes will lead to the long-term or final outcome.       


Long-term outcome

The result of an action, event, or program after its conclusion.  Often in performance measurement the long-term outcome is the final result of a program or policy.


Secondary outcomes

Indirect consequences, intended or unintended and positive or negative, that occur as a result of producing an output.



The quantity of goods produced or services provided by an organization.


Performance management

A system of organization that uses performance measurement information to help set and achieve agreed-upon performance goals, allocate resources, and adjust policy as necessary.  To be effective, performance management ideals should be integrated throughout the organization and involved in strategy, budgeting, and management decisions.


Performance measure

See Measure.

Performance Measurement

The process of measuring government performance by tracking progress toward specific quantitative and qualitative outcomes with an emphasis on accountability and improvement.


Performance Measurement System

A comprehensive and systematic process of collecting performance measures and using them to assess, monitor, and improve the results of programs, policies, or the organization.


Performance Measurement Technology Systems

A variety of technology solutions available to enable performance measurement.  These systems are also called Enterprise Performance Management, Corporate Performance Management, and Business Performance Management


Performance report

An internal or external report conveying objective information about an organization’s ability to meet pre-determined goals, as well as prior progress made toward those goals.


Performance-Based Budgeting (PBB)

A method of allocating resources in which financial resources are tied to outcomes rather than outputs.



An adopted principle, plan, or course of action pursued by an organization.


Program/Project Evaluation

The process of examining programs or services to identify factors that contribute or limit its success and its ability to meet intended objectives.


Resource cost

Cost of economic inputs including salaries, raw materials, supplies, equipment, technologies, and facilities used to produce outputs.


Risk Assessment

The process of measuring and analyzing the costs and benefits associated with achieving or not achieving desired results.



See outcome


Service Efforts and Accomplishments (SEA)

Measures of the resources used, the effect of their use, and the efficiency with which they are used. These include measures of service efforts (the amount of financial and non-financial resources used), measures of service accomplishments (outputs and outcomes), and measures that relate efforts to accomplishments (efficiency). (GASB Initiative)

Six Sigma

A methodology that utilizes performance measurement as a tool to systematically manage and eliminate process variations that cause defects.  The objective of Six Sigma is to deliver high performance, reliability, and value to the end customer.  First utilized in Japan, it was pioneered in the US by Motorola and GE and can be included as one aspect of Total Quality Management.



Any person, group, or organization that can place a claim on, or influence, the organization's resources or outputs; is affected by those outputs; or has an interest in or expectation of the organization.


Stats System

A performance measurement system where measures focus on department operations. It often involves a formal review where high level executives and department heads regularly meet to discuss results and devise strategies for deficient measures.


Strategic Planning

A disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide an organization’s mission, goals, and objectives, and develop long-term strategies for organizational success; results in a strategic plan or blueprint stating the mission, goals, and objectives of an organization.



A blueprint of purposes, policies, programs, actions, decisions, or resource allocations designed to deal with critical challenges that affect an organization’s mission and values. (from Bryson, pp. 30 and 32)


Strategy map

See Logic model


SWOT Analysis

The assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, providing a picture of the organization's internal and external environment to aid in the formulation of goals and strategies.  It is a tool, originally developed by the Stanford Research Institute, to assist with strategic planning.


External Analysis

An examination of conditions (demographic, economic, technological, social and cultural, legal and political, and natural forces) outside the organization to identify potential opportunities and threats.


Internal Analysis

An examination of the organization and its mission, objectives, strategies, resources, trends, etc. to identify particular strengths and weaknesses.



A desired numerical value related to a performance measure.  The term target is occasionally used to mean goal or objective.



See Activity


Top down

A process that facilitates the flow of information from upper level management to lower level employees.


Total Quality Management

A set of management practices that involves everyone in an organization in control and continuous improvement of work processes designed to meet customers’ quality expectations.


Trend Analysis

A statistical methodology used to detect changes or patterns in output or outcome levels over time.



See Data validation



An idealized view of what the organization would like to be or accomplish in the future.



A process of performing a defined task or activity.


Workload measures

See Measure - Output