Vensters

Benchmarking for Dutch government institutions

What is Vensters?

‘Vensters’ is an instrument that allows municipalities, provinces and water boards to gain an overview of the performance and functioning of their management. The instrument also allows them to compare their performance with other public organisations. Vensters is a diagnostic and learning instrument. It helps managers to have meaningful conversations about ambitions, choices and improvements. Since its launch, the number of participants has risen to over 100 public organisations. This number is expected to increase further in the coming years, since business management and public service have become a key factor in the way local government is performing these days.

Cocreation

In 2013 Vensters was established and funded with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations. From the very beginning, it has been a project from and for public organisations such as municipalities, water boards and provinces. Individual organisations and the relevant public associations have been and are closely involved in development and implementation. Currently the project is funded only by contributions from its participants.

 

This is how it works

The instrument looks at the performance of public organisations from different perspectives or through different windows (‘Vensters’). A fact finding survey maps the performance of management or services based on objective performance indicators. This research focuses on the costs of absenteeism, overhead, ICT costs, energy consumption, social return, service digitization, service efficiency at the front desk, etc. On the other hand, there is an experience survey that provides insight into goals, business maturity, balance between key choices (like standardization vs. flexibility) and internal customer satisfaction or satisfaction with the service.

Vensters seeks to refresh performance management or -comparison

Transparency

Vensters provides government organisations with numbers as a starting point for conversation. Everyone gets an insight of each other’s results, there are no divisions between government layers. With this, Vensters promotes transparency within and between government layers.

Not normative

Vensters doesn’t judge or give meaning to KPI’s. It is up to the participants to judge whether they are
content with their performance or not. In so-called ‘duidingsgesprekken’ (explication conversations), Vensters’ advisors help the senior management to reflect on the KPI’s, their coherency and their own performance.

User-friendly app

Rather than producing extensive reports, Vensters presents the data as a user-friendly dashboard in
an interactive app, which can be used 24/7. The user friendliness of the tool enables top management to use it without the assistance of supporting civil servants.

Evaluators' comments

Vensters was nominated for the European Public Service Award (EPSA) in 2017. The theme of this European election: an innovative public sector, new solutions to complex challenges. Vensters made it to the top 4 and was elected Best Practice. 

The jury commented:

“Very impressive and unique approach to performance management well in line with current experiences/research on the requirements of a successful Performance Management (especially the lack of use of PIs; multidimensional). It shows a combination of data evidence/dashboards, mutual transparency and learning focus. It makes good use of new digital resources at various parts and shows an interesting move away from classical reports towards app-based reporting. It contains creative elements demonstrated both in project design, implementation and structure. The project solves in an easy manner a concrete problem (namely performance in PA) and serves as an example. This is an interesting approach of Performance Management with high transferability of technology and experiences, both to other policy fields and most EU member states with stronger regionalised service functions. This is a tool that could make benchmarking easier and more attractive to public administration professionals and consequently contribute to better performance and productivity.”

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