A new way to look at reporting

Posted by:
Leon M. Biegalski

Publish Date:
23 Jun, 2021

I think sometimes within the public sector reporting tools are underused, or at least maybe not considered in a broader sense. What do we typically think of as a use for operational reporting? Just a few examples, a manager using a report to measure an employee’s KPIs; leadership using a report’s hard numbers to make policy decisions; or measuring the overall efficiency of an agency.

We shouldn’t underestimate the valuable information that can be gained from reports as a management tool, used in different ways. There could be a variety of reasons for sticking to “the way we have always used reports.” Maybe the manager is uncomfortable with executing the report or creating the query; or there’s the perception of too many reports to choose from. Sometimes we’ve been locked-in for so long, using the objectiveness of the report to determine whether an employee has met KPIs, that we don’t think of other uses. We can get complacent on creating and trying new queries, as well as many other factors.

I won’t dismiss the traditional idea of using the objective nature of reporting for KPI measurement and evaluation of an employee, section, division, or overall agency performance. This is a great straightforward tool if the KPIs are well thought out and consider a truly valid measure of the employee’s performance based on specific roles. Not all KPIs fit all roles. For example, measuring an auditor or office primarily engaged in personal income tax audits would naturally have different measurements than an auditor primarily engaged in aviation fuel tax audits. Just as in a regulatory context, an inspector would have different measurements based upon the industry and size of the facility being inspected, such as health clinic vs. veterinary clinic, hospital vs. clinic, and so on.

I suggest that operational reporting can be a great tool in terms of training needs. Yes, falling short on a KPI might be indicative that an employee needs improvement, but unfortunately sometimes that is all we look to for the evaluation. Maybe, by drilling deeper into the various numbers within the reports we can determine a specific need.

By comparing data regarding outcomes of different cases, a manager can determine whether an employee needs more training with respect to specific areas of performance. Even though I provided the example above about personal income tax vs aviation tax audits, it’s common for auditors to work with multiple tax types. The reporting can provide flags if one employee, or a particular office, is falling outside of what has been projected. I do not mean to single out audits, but they provide good examples. Maybe one auditor is consistently overturned upon appeal or has a backlog of a certain type of case. Maybe one office seems to compromise more than others, or that the tax leakage within their assigned area is higher than others. I don’t believe this is an immediate poor reflection of any individual or office, but it gives the opportunity to dig deeper and ask questions. It may come to light that the individual was never fully trained on a particular nuance within the tax type that caused the overturned audit. Maybe the backlog is because they’re uncomfortable doing that type of audit due to a lack of training. It may be discovered that office was not advised of a policy change regarding compromise levels. There are any number of things that can be investigated to help raise the level of uniformity in application of standards across the agency.

This is not an all-inclusive list of examples. I am simply raising the idea that when you have a solution that provides you with robust reporting, it should be embraced beyond the old thought processes. Don’t be afraid to think of new ways to use the information. It may take some thought and trial and error to find the best way to drill down to find the answers, but that is part of the fun of new ways of looking at things. Be creative, it may even lead you to discoveries you have not contemplated. In the end, this is also about helping your employees identify things for them to learn, rather than leaving their evaluation at “not meeting expectations” with no additional guidance. Now, we have the capabilities to identify where they need help and provide that education. Going through such an exercise can provide you with better trained happier employees and an overall better run agency.

Learn how you can take reporting to the next level and revolutionise taxpayer compliance with actionable insights driven technology.

Blog Author

Leon M. Biegalski

Chief Global Advisor for Public Sector

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