More with Less: Maximizing Value in the Public Sector

More with Less: Maximizing Value in the Public Sector


Bernard Marr & James Creelman

Value for money is about obtaining the maximum benefit with the resources available. While value for money decisions are a daily reality in all our lives were we are constantly judging between costs and benefits, this is a major focus and challenge for all public sector organisations.

Public sector organizations are experiencing one of the most challenging environments they have ever had to face as they bear much of the cost of the credit crunch. Across the world public sector pursues are shrinking as national Governments pay off the debt of averting global economies from the horrors of depression and deal with the budget deficits resulting from reduced tax-income during the recession.

In order to cope with the challenges, perhaps more than ever before public sector leaders need to instil strong performance improvement disciplines into their organizations: disciplines that enable these leaders to fully understand:

  1. What key outcomes and priority deliverables they must accomplish
  2. How to allocate reduced financial resources so to make the most positive impact on service levels and outcomes.
  3. Where to reduce costs and improve efficiencies without jeopardising service delivery

In this timely book the authors address the efficiency drive following the credit crunch using the real-life examples and case studies from across the world, such as Audit Scotland, Belfast City Council, Brisbane City Council, City of Charlotte, Civil Service College (Singapore) the FBI, the NHS, Ministry of Works (Bahrain), Royal Canadian Mounted Police, US Postal Service and many more.



Here is what the experts say

"This book is an excellent guide for everyone involved in strategy development and delivery in the new era of financial constraints."

Robert W Black, Auditor General for Scotland


"This is an excellent reference for those in the public sector who are responsible for good performance management. As a consumer of public sector services, I will be the ultimate beneficiary of this work."

Dr David P. Norton, Co-Developer of the Balanced Scorecard and Director of Palladium Group


“A highly engaging and relevant book! Marr and Creelman are genius at making managing, reporting and reviewing performance culture focused, relevant and fun in these changing times”.

Michelle McCusker, Head of Business and Performance, NHS NW Collaborative Commercial Agency


“This book not only explains what good performance management can do for you, it makes it achievable. At a time when every public sector organisation is striving to be as efficient and as effective as possible, the principles within this book make it possible to adapt and to demonstrate value in even the most challenging times.”

Patricia Stead, Director, Planning and Performance, Arts Council England


‘A must for anyone trying to maintain and enhance their performance in very challenging times. This approach helps to clarify thinking, truly identify priorities and align resources in a way that the whole organisation can understand’

Gillian Porter, Head of Business Strategy, Durham Constabulary



'An intriguing book...Someone should give George Osborne a copy.'

Allister Heath, City A.M


Foreword by David P Norton

Author of The Balanced Scorecard and Founder and Director of Palladium Group, Inc.

The subject of performance management (PM) has received considerable attention in the literature of late. References like EPM (Enterprise performance management), CPM (Corporate performance management) and BPM (Business performance management) abound with no clear consistency of meaning. My personal definition of PM is “the execution of the organization mission through the coordinated effort of others. PM is a system and a process that impacts everyone in the organization. You can argue that Performance Management is the most important job of a manager. In fact, you could argue that the execution of the organization mission through the coordinated efforts of others is the only job of management.

Since Bob Kaplan and I introduced the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) approach to performance management almost 20 years ago, the use of such BSC based systems has grown in both scale and complexity. From simple business units to complicated conglomerates, the BSC approach to performance management has been used in organizations of every size and type. These organizations share one common trait – COMPLEXITY. Thousands of people working in different functions and locations must somehow make decisions on a daily basis that are consistent with the goals of their organization. The more complex the environment, the more difficult it is to manage performance. Complexity is the enemy.

While all organizations are inherently complex, public sector organizations present the greatest challenge for effective performance management. Two structural features contribute to this. First, performance is seldom confined to a single, formal organization. The role of government is generally an intermediary in a process of prioritization and resource allocation. The boundaries of a performance management process must include the organization, as well as numerous stakeholders and numerous resource providers. Performance management processes must be designed for virtual organizations.

Secondly, performance management takes place in an adversarial structure that intentionally pits different coalitions against one another (in a two-party or parliamentary system.) It is said that democracy is messy. Managing performance in an adversarial environment requires a balancing of divergent views. Consensus building is the goal of the performance management process.

The BSC approach to performance management provides a solution or this challenge: SIMPLICITY. It begins with a philosophy: having executives who are focused and can mobilize their people, strategies that are measured, organizations that are aligned, people who are motivated, and governance that is strategic. This philosophy is embedded in a strategy management system that facilitates change in a purposeful, coordinated way.

The authors of this excellent work are to be congratulated for tailoring the classic architecture of the Balanced Scorecard performance management system to the unique challenges posed by public sector organizations. This is an excellent reference for those in the public sector who are responsible for good performance management. As a consumer of public sector services, I will be the ultimate beneficiary of this work.

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