In 2016, COA began our 2020 strategic planning process. We talked with and surveyed our network on their reasons for seeking COA accreditation and how we could provide even more value to their experience. One recurring theme was the need for data. Our organizations employ sophisticated quality improvement systems to manage their success, but respondents noted a lack of quality external benchmark data to complement their internal data.
The Whole Story
Contemporary leaders of human and social service organizations gauge the health and sustainability of their organizations through their data. But that’s an insular, myopic world. Good, bad, and in-between performance is usually based on a single question: How did we do last year?
What if you could compare your organization’s performance to other organizations like yours? That’s the whole story, and the Council on Accreditation (COA) believes the future of performance measurement in the human and social service sector begins with benchmarking. Starting in January 2020, COA is expanding its benchmarking program to provide even more valuable data to our network of human and social service organizations. Download an overview of our benchmarking program.
COA’s pilot benchmarking program launched in the summer of 2016 as part of COA’s Maintenance of Accreditation (MOA) process. It was based on two years of research and replaced our old, narrative-driven MOA process. In the old process, organizations would write an extensive overview of their PQI activities in the past 12 months, and COA would review these narratives and provide feedback. It was a time- and resource-intensive process, and at the end of the day provided little value to COA or our accredited organizations.
We wanted to create a system which had 360-degree value for our network, and this idea was the genesis of the pilot benchmarking program. By collecting, aggregating, and sharing data, we created a system which provided value to all parties:
- COA can better understand our network
- Organizations are monitoring basic key performance indicators to understand their performance; and
- Our network, as a whole, is enriched with comparative benchmark data.
We started with five measures of organizational health and sustainability: days cash on hand, staff retention rate, management retention rate, average staff tenure, and rate of substantiated grievances. Organizations resoundingly preferred this system and, based on feedback from our network, it surfaced again and again as a priority for us during our strategic planning process for 2020. Based on feedback from our network, we’re enhancing this system to collect and share back even more benchmark performance data.
We had three primary goals for refining our benchmarking program:
- Universal measures: COA accredits over 60 services and works with a plethora of organizations within the human and social services space. When selecting new measures for this program, we stuck with measures of organization health and sustainability because these are applicable to human and social service organizations of any size or purpose.
- Unlike any other benchmarking services available to our network: we knew we needed a unique benchmarking program which provided:
- Multifaceted measures which gave a holistic view of an organization’s performance
- Segmentation logic. Much of the benchmark data available to our sector is not specific to human and social service organizations. Many times, data is collected from all tax-exempt entities. But, it’s just not valuable for our network to be compared to animal welfare organizations, arts nonprofits, and similar entities. Our program is focused solely on human and social service organizations. In addition, we’re using all of our data to create very narrow segments or clusters of organization for even more valuable comparisons. In future iterations, we plan to roll out custom segmentation for our end-users.
- Improved data collection methodology: as a part of the new MOA process, we’re collecting benchmark data from our network annually and associating it with a discrete fiscal year. This ensures we have a consistent and reliable flow of data to share back with our network.
Measures + Process
Our measures speak to the basic health and sustainability of any human and social service provider. Learn more about our measures and how we compare your performance.
Is your organization already accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA)? Learn more about transitioning to our new annual reporting process.
Have questions? Email our Business Intelligence team.
Send us your name and email and we’ll send you periodic updates on our benchmarking program launch!