Performance outcome measures is a management tool used to clarify goals, document the contribution toward achieving those goals, and document the benefits of the program and the services to clients. This should not be additional work for an agency, but part of the planning process to see the impact programs and services have on the lives of those you serve. Performance outcome measures also help to maximize the impact of dollars spent on programs and services. It allows agencies to share successes with other community agencies and the State to advocate for program dollars. Outcomes are not a count of program activity or units of service. It is a quesiton of determining what you want to measure, then gathering data specific to answering the question. An outcome is something that is measureable and data collection is part of the process.
Outcome...A specific result that the agency is seeking (a benefit or change in a condition of well-being for children, families, or communities).
Indicator...Specific data that tracks the client's success. An indicator or benchmark is a measure, for which data is available, which helps quantify the achievement of an outcome.
Performance Measure...Method used to measure progress. It indicates what the program is accomplishing and if the results are being achieved (a measure of the effectiveness of the agency or program service delivery).
The outcome measures should be characterized as measureable, obtainable, understandable, clear, accurately reflecting the expected result, and set at a level to be attained within a specific time frame. Once the measures have been selected, it is necessary to design a way to get the information.
Some resources that provide helpful information in developing outcome measures:
United Way's Outcome Measurement Resource Network
Overview of Results-Based Accountability: Components of RBA
The Urban Institute Outcome Indicators Project
The Urban Institute: Developing Community-wide Outcome Indicators for Specific Services
United Way's Connecting Program Outcome Measures to Community Impact
National Resource Center-Outcome Measurments Articles
Texas State Library - sample outcome measures
United Way Program Outcome Evaluations
This is just a sampling of what is available. There are many resources on the Internet to assist with developing performance outcome measures.