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19th Judicial Circuit > Resources > Performance Management

Performance Management

The SMAART Performance Management Program of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Lake County is a process of organizational performance measures and continuous improvement efforts, which ensure that Court activities are aligned with the Court’s strategic plan and are being conducted in an effective and efficient manner. The Court’s strategic plan provides a vision of the judicial system, which is based on service to the community and fostering public trust and confidence. The strategic plan also outlines goals,  objectives, and system-wide initiatives for the Court organization that are based on values important to the effective administration of justice and guides Court staff in working to fulfill the mission of the Court. The SMAART Program provides an Action Research framework for aligning Court actions – services, programs, and support activities – with the strategic plan, measuring the impact of those actions using a balanced scorecard approach, and planning continuous improvements in order to enhance outcomes.

SMAART - Action Research Framework

The SMAART Performance Management Program is a forward-looking process, which uses frequent measurement of Court activities and the services it provides to the public in order to better respond to issues when they arise, assist problem-solving, inform decisions, and gage the impact of improvement efforts. An essential component of the SMAART Performance Management Program, therefore, is performance measurement. Court performance measurement often requires the use of statistical evidence to determine whether Court functions are operating within established parameters and, consequently, making progress towards meeting the Court’s objectives and strategic initiatives. The Court organization establishes performance parameters, or benchmarks, based on industry standards or evidence-based targets for key programs, services, and support activities, which indicate whether the investments of human and financial resources are successful in achieving organizational effectiveness. SMAART performance parameters are those that are:

        Outcome-based goals, standards, benchmarks or targets of achievement
        Demonstrated qualities or quantities expressed as a calculation or comparison
        Ambitious or challenging levels of organizational success
        Realistic and attainable based on existing resources and staffing
        Directly related to the challenges at hand or reflected in the Court’s Strategic Plan
        As close to real-time as possible; reflective of closure and target dates

Organizational effectiveness provides a measure of how successful the Court is progressing towards achieving its mission and fulfilling its vision – to best serve the public, while seeking the highest possible understanding, trust and confidence. This concept of organizational effectiveness, however, is much too broad and abstract to be measured directly. In addition to this, each of the Court’s six divisions – Administrative Services, Adult Probation Services, Judicial Information and Technology Services, Judicial Operations, Juvenile Probation and Detention Services, and Psychological Services – supports the mission of the Court in a manner specific to their respective scope of operations and area of expertise, which makes a single measure of effectiveness impossible to determine. Instead of measuring organizational effectiveness directly, the Court organization has selected a number of proxy measures and intended outcomes that represent effectiveness: Project Management (e.g., access to services, program outcomes, case processing, client satisfaction, public awareness), Financial Management (e.g., reducing client costs, reducing organizational costs, achieving projected budget, securing grant funding, client financial compliance), Internal Process and Controls (e.g., efficiency of service delivery, collaboration with justice partners, compliance with policies and procedures, adherence to ethical and professional standards, communications), and Organizational Development & Innovation (e.g., job knowledge and skills development, utilization of technology, organizational commitment, problem-solving, responsiveness). These measures compose the Court’s Balanced Scorecard.

SMAART Balance Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard is a performance management tool for measuring whether the smaller scale operational activities of the Court organization are aligned with its larger scale strategies, objectives, and overall mission in terms of project management, financial management, internal processes, and organizational development. Focusing not only on financial outcomes as the single measure of organizational effectiveness, but also by considering other impacts associated with these activities, the Balanced Scorecard helps to provide a more comprehensive view of the Court organization and its functions, which in turn helps Court staff, justice stakeholders, and the public better understand the role of the Court organization within the community. Coupled with the SMAART performance parameters, the Balanced Scorecard provides a template that thoroughly describes activities within the Court organization and a reasonable means with which to measure Court organizational effectiveness.

Performance is the sum of behavior and results, and is an outcome of effective management and continuous improvement processes. Performance Management is about creating a workplace environment and culture that translates into individual, unit, division, and organization-wide success. The SMAART Performance Management Program is just as much a process of measuring how well the Court organization does in terms of serving customer needs, meeting targets, and producing desired impacts as it is a system for creating an organizational culture of collaboration and commitment, with an emphasis on active learning, inclusion, and building internal motivation for success. Setting organizational performance targets can make a positive contribution to Court performance by focusing organizational attention on particular outcomes and outputs, and aligning the behavior of employees with the overall mission of the Court.  Developing habit-strength for effective problem-solving and efficient work processes can be applied across similar or different divisions or work groups in order to transform strategic initiatives into concrete actions, to guide organizational behavior during times of uncertainty and change, and seamlessly adapt to targets of opportunity. Motivational factors present within the Court organization and culture ensure that performance is for the right objectives, done the right way, and for the right reasons.

The objective of the SMAART Performance Management Program is to improve the Court organization’s capacity to monitor, manage, and enhance its services, programs and support activities. The SMAART Performance Management Program provides the tools and language in order to define success consistently throughout the Court organization. The SMAART Balanced Scorecard results are intentionally transparent and regularly reported within the organization and to external stakeholders through:

  • Executive Level Measures
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Program Snapshots
  • Program Evaluations
  • Documented Action Plans
  • Improved Management Practices
  • Updated Policies and Procedures

The SMAART Program provides valuable data and statistical evidence of Court programs and services that can better inform program and policy decision-making for the Judiciary, Senior Management Team, Court Employees and the Lake County Board and Administrators. Additional benefits of the SMAART Program include:

  • Financial Health of the Court System
    • Reduction of costs – including time, resources, and waste
    • Aligns budget with strategic priorities and goals
    • Documents and communicates the need for resources
    • Provides transparency for resource allocation and project results
  • Improved Management Control
    • Flexible and responsive to immediate needs (e.g., targets of opportunity)
    • Displays data relationships
    • Assist in internal auditing of programs and services
    • Simplifies communication of strategic planning
  • Motivated Workforce
    • Improves employee engagement by increasing understanding of how individual efforts contribute to the organization’s higher-level goals
    • Creates transparency in the achievement of goals throughout the organization
    • Professional development plans are better aligned with achieving organizational strategic goals

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