A good performance measure gives you and your staff the ability to make changes and see whether those changes improve the agency/division/program’s performance, that is, its ability to improve customers/clients’ quality of life.

Importantly, performance measures are data – they quantitatively measure the agency/division/ program’s performance. The following Data Quadrant is a useful tool for sorting and categorizing performance measures.  All performance measures fit into one of four categories. The categories, the four quadrants, are derived from the intersection of quantity and quality and effort and effect.

The figure shows how these combinations lead to three universal performance measures: How much did we do? How well did we do it? Is anyone better off? The most important performance measures are those that tell us whether our clients or customers are better off as a consequence of receiving the services (“client results,” the lower left and right quadrants). The second most important measures are those that tell us whether the service or activity is done well (upper right quadrant). The least important measures are those that tell us what and how much we do.