Spotlight on Pinellas County Florida

Every year, Pinellas County reviews and refreshes their strategic plan to guide their actions as they focus on delivering meaningful service to their constituents.

Shannon Mills, Strategic Performance Management Analyst for Pinellas County, detailed the five pillars of the plan as follows:

  • Deliver first class services to the public
  • Ensure public health, safety, and welfare
  • Practice superior environmental stewardship
  • Foster continual economic growth and vitality
  • Create a quality workforce in a positive, supportive organization

In developing their 2021 plan, however, staff knew that there were changes to be made. A number of past inefficiencies were preventing this process from being effective and engaging.

Challenges:

The challenges faced by the performance program at Pinellas County are as follows:

Challenge 1: Creating an Efficient Planning Process
To develop and approve the annual plan refresh, the Pinellas County Board (BCC) typically met with the County Administrator and Assistant County Administrators. However, gathering the right data to formulate the plan proved to be difficult for staff. There was no standardized way to look at the data that had been collected to inform the plan. Employees relied on PowerPoint to communicate the information via email. Engaging the BCC in the annual meeting was challenging due to a lack of compelling data storytelling in a consistent format. Clearly, staff needed to turn the planning process into a more meaningful and organized conversation.

Challenge 2: Refining Data Reporting and Tracking
Even after the strategic plan was refreshed, Pinellas County staff experienced difficulties in measuring success in a standard form across all departments involved in the plan. To track key initiatives and performance measures, each department would report on their own progress separately. The approach was a free-for-all, with a blend of Excel documents and disparate systems. There was no standardized way to report on and track the plan in real time. Staff needed a way to collect reliable, clean data and report on performance metrics using the data.

Challenge 3: Creating an Innovative Environment
To execute any changes in the current strategic plan system, staff needed buy-in from all levels. However, employees were hesitant about changing the current tools, reporting systems, and data-sharing methods. Historically, performance management and reporting tools were seen less favorably, as a system designed for disciplining. The performance management team planned to rewrite that narrative and create positive conversations surrounding digital innovation

We helped people see and connect that performance is really to help everybody improve and to be better stewards for our citizens.

Shannon Mills

Strategic Performance Management Analyst, Pinellas County, FL

Solution:

In creating a solution to address each of the challenges, staff developed a two-pronged approach that focused dually on the technology and the people. Pinellas County worked to leverage the power of the Socrata Data Platform and pave the way for future innovations.

Leveraging Technology to Spark Change

Using the power of Socrata Perspectives, the Pinellas County Performance Management team crafted a story with key initiatives that spanned all 20 county departments. This story included key work plan items, emerging issues, and important county statistics. Narratives were crafted around equitable programs, such as the county’s new behavioral health system pilot. The story was then shared with the BCC prior to the annual meeting and served to engage them in the planning process. With the storytelling of Socrata Perspectives, fostering the conversation around the strategic plan became a collaborative and purposeful process.

Upon initial adoption and implementation of Socrata, Pinellas County utilized Tyler’s Socrata Open Performance solution to create a comprehensive self-service dashboard. Pinellas identified three datasets to kick start the use of Socrata. These were customer service data insights from SurveyMonkey, citizen issue data from SeeClickFix, and call center data detailing call volume and wait times. The data was transformed into meaningful metrics on the performance reporting dashboard. This dashboard combined these three distinct datasets in real time to track, report, and communicate the county’s progress towards the strategic performance initiatives. Through this innovation, county leaders and the general public were able to monitor the plan with the use of transparent, engaging data.

Earning Employee Buy-In

These technology-based solutions wouldn’t have been possible without the buy-in of the county employees. To aid in this process, the strategic performance team worked to cultivate positive conversations about the digital changes. Hands-on project training built excitement around the new story and dashboard, which were now seen as vital tools rather than a cause for punishment. This shift in narrative enabled the county to embrace the Socrata platform and create lasting innovations.

To further ease the task of implementation, the strategic performance team picked people in each department to be Super Users of Socrata. If that department experienced any issues, the Super User would quickly be there to provide assistance. Now, when enhancements are made with Socrata, Super Users are the first to know. This eliminates the need for large and complex email chains and ensures that there are specialists all around the county

Pinellas also established a data governance committee to help overcome and effectively address concerns around processes that could potentially compromise the quality and security of the operational data coming into a single platform from multiple agencies. The data governance committee served to create and establish the best practices with sharing and accessing data for cross-agency collaboration.

Next Steps

Looking ahead to 2022, Pinellas County plans to expand its use of the Socrata Data Platform. The county is already intending to use the insights from this year to develop the FY2022 budget. Additionally, the county plans on refining the self-service dashboard by connecting more databases. Lastly, Pinellas County aims to create more public content for further dashboard engagement. The digital innovations of 2021 have led to greater reporting, data transparency, performance tracking, and adoption. Pinellas County plans to carry this momentum into the coming years to continue delivering exceptional service.

Case Study Highlights

  • Pinellas County Performance Management team creates a story around key initiatives that span 20 county departments
  • Pinellas County establishes a data governance committee to establish best practices in cross agency collaboration with data
  • Tyler’s Socrata Open Performance solution helps Pinellas County create a comprehensive self-service dashboard for Performance Reporting

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