Forward Looking DC Courts Improves Processes and Sets the Bar in Managing Strategy and KPIs
By tobyehatch-Oracle on Aug 07, 2013
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Smolianski, Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia Courts (DC Courts) about their five year strategic plan that they are successfully communicating and monitoring through the use of scorecards and dashboards. They are making fantastic progress in supporting their constituents and openly reporting progress on their plan. Following are some of the interesting points covered in our interview about DC Courts’ vision and how they are using Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management to attain that vision.
Peter began by giving our listeners a brief overview of DC Courts and why they are so unique. In summary, they are a federally funded organization whose judicial officers are confirmed by the President of the United States. They are a fully unified judiciary, which means that they have municipal, county, and state level courts all managed together. They handle probation, mediation, and marriage services within the courts - unlike many other U.S. court systems where such services are all completely separate. DC Courts has 1,500 employees, 150 judges, and processes about 150,000 new filings each year comprised of civil litigations, landlord and tenant cases, small claims, criminal, family, probate, tax cases, domestic violence, and more.
DC Courts is one of the very few courts that has implemented scorecards and has a publicly published 5 year strategic plan. Why is this so unique? “There is no legal requirement to publish a strategic plan,” said Peter. He then told us about the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), an organization that helps to define standards and measures for Trial Court and Appellate courts, including recommended performance management standards, best practices, and Key Performance Indicators. “Courts are not mandated or required to institute these standards,” he said.
So why are they doing it? DC Courts Executive Office established the Office of Strategic Management to help them set, administer and monitor their strategic plan and related activities. The purpose of each 5 year plan is to improve court proceedings and processes. By reporting this to their constituents, they are demonstrating responsibility to constituents and also providing themselves with a structured way to improve, complete with accountability built in.
As publishing a five year plan and scorecard is unique in this field, I asked Peter to describe what parties were involved from DC Courts and where the data comes from?
Peter told us the following. “Research and Development is the group responsible for developing the measures and for conducting surveys [to get data]. The office of Strategic Management develops the strategic plan. It is responsible to provide the data and deliver reporting – in this case personalized dashboards with scorecard results included. And recipients of the results are responsible to enter data that is not available through other court or IT systems.” Peter also told us that an unexpected benefit was the ability to show scorecard performance on personalized dashboards for each of the executives. “This is a really welcome benefit to help each of the executives analyze and monitor performance of interest to them,” said Peter.
There is so much more to the interview, but my final question to Peter was about what he felt the #1 lesson learned was by DC Courts when they implemented Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management. His reply was very insightful. “Scorecards are a tool to implement what you have already built with respect to strategy and KPIs. You need to know what you have now and what you want to do in the future. The tool does not help you if you don’t have a strategy. Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management enables you to automate your approach. Either select the Norton and Kaplan Balanced scorecard framework or another approach, but you need to follow an approach to effectively execute your strategy.”
Great advice! DC Courts are making some great strides in setting strategy and executing on it, and are really setting the bar for other US Courts.
To listen to the entire podcast, click here.
To learn more about Oracle Scorecard and Strategy Management (OSSM), click here.