Strategic Management & Metrics FAQs

What is the Strategic Management & Metrics Project?

The Strategic Management & Metrics Project is developing an integrated strategic framework and process for Berkeley that links strategic goals, resource allocation decisions, and performance-based metrics.

Why is this project needed?

Keeping UC Berkeley great, in face of the challenging external environment, requires a sharp focus on trade-offs so that we can make good choices from the very real dilemmas that we face. UC Berkeley currently lacks a set of widely-understood strategic goals as well as a set of common metrics that allow us to measure progress toward those goals. At the campus-wide level, strategic goals exist but are not communicated widely. Some schools and units have robust strategic plans and effectively use metrics to measure performance; however, these efforts are not coordinated across units and are not necessarily tied to campus-wide goals. In short, as a campus we need a formalized and flexible process that will enable us to make key decisions and continually evaluate where we are, where we’re going, and how best to get there.

What is the higher goal?

In line with the operating principle “We are accountable to each other,” the development of a strategic framework enables UC Berkeley to be more accountable to students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders. By being transparent about our goals and strategies, and offering a common process and shared set of measures, we are more accountable and enable a culture of continuous improvement.

Who are the pilot participants?

The project team is working collaboratively with a pilot group of divisions/schools, as well as other key functional teams and managers across campus, who have volunteered to provide their strategic objectives and real data to help develop a working model of the future strategic framework and process. The pilots, including both Academic and Administrative units, vary in size and have mixed experience in terms of using metrics:

  • Administration and Finance 
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • Graduate Division
  • Goldman School of Public Policy
  • Haas School of Business

Who decides on our strategic direction?

At UC Berkeley, strategic planning is a two-way street: “bottom up” from priorities within departments/units – and “top down” from central campus leadership. Along the way, there is room to discuss, exchange, iterate, adjust and align. This project will not formulate or create strategies at either the campus or unit level; rather, it will provide the framework and tool kit for aligning existing plans and strategies for leaders to manage their units more effectively and to follow how well the strategy is being executed using metrics. These metrics will also provide a common language for communicating our strategic objectives and outcomes.

How does this tie into the campus budget process?

This strategic framework and process is linked to the annual budget cycle and builds upon the university’s recent budget reform work, which has provided a critical financial baseline to inform long-term strategic planning. Through the CalPlanning budgeting and financial analysis system, campus finance staff is submitting higher quality financial information than ever before, and are providing a budget narrative that outlines their strategic vision. The new framework will allow units to better link their strategies to their resource allocation decisions and their metrics.

Who will be using this framework and process?

This framework and process is intended to be used primarily by campus-wide leaders, unit leaders, and CAOs, etc. Initially it will be targeted at the Vice Chancellor and Deans. 

Will this mean a lot of work for my department?

The project team aims to reduce the amount of additional work by tying into existing campus processes and data sources wherever possible. Data from CalPlanning and CalAnswers will feed the process, and the framework will tie into existing budget schedules and workflow wherever possible.

What are the next steps?

Rather than implementing a static strategic planning process, we envision a “living process” with an eye toward continuous improvement and refining goals and strategies based upon our rapidly changing environment. At present, we are designing the process and supporting tools. Based on implementation decisions made later this year, we will aim to progressively roll out capabilities in 2014.

COMMON METRICS OVERVIEW

What are Common Metrics?

Common Metrics are a suite of metrics with standard definitions and measurement processes related to core activities across campus. They are a tool for campus to consistently measure performance toward strategic objectives using data readily available from existing systems of record. Common metrics are not a substitute for unit-specific metrics, but a complement to them; unit metrics continue to play a valuable role in enabling departments to manage their operations.

We will determine the set of Common Metrics together by defining a vision of success for campus and evaluating which metrics most accurately measure progress toward our goals. Since a given activity or process may be measured in many different ways depending on the type of data that are collected and how the data are characterized, Common Metrics will provide us with an established data set, comparative perspectives, and benchmarked results.

Why does UC Berkeley need Common Metrics?

Some schools, colleges and units have robust strategic plans and effectively use metrics to measure performance; however, these efforts vary widely, are not coordinated across units, and are not necessarily tied to campus-wide goals. For those groups who track similar metrics, many report it as a highly manual and laborious exercise. As we move towards building a world-class operation to support our teaching, research and public service missions, we need an easily accessible suite of consistent Common Metrics to help us to better understand how every unit's contributions affect the larger mission of the university.

What are the benefits of Common Metrics?

Key benefits include:
• Enhanced transparency and accountability towards key campus goals and reporting to external stakeholders and donors
• Increased campus-level and unit-level insight via better comparability and benchmarking
• Reinforced common language relating to data definitions and strategic objectives
• Improved data quality via centrally sourced and maintained data
• Reduced effort by campus staff to collect, maintain, and report metrics

What are the higher goals of Common Metrics?

A transparent, strategic framework of Common Metrics will enable UC Berkeley to be more accountable to students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders. Providing a view into our goals and strategies, and offering a common process and shared set of measures will also facilitate a culture of continuous improvement.

What are examples of UC Berkeley's Common Metrics?

An initial set of Common Metrics was identified as a result of work undertaken with a pilot group of divisions and schools (academic and administrative units, and other key functional teams and managers across campus) who volunteered to provide their strategic objectives and real data. Examples of Common Metrics by function include:

  • Academic: Time to Degree, Graduation Rate, Number of Applications, and Yield
  •  Financial Aid: Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid and Student Indebtedness.
  • Equity and Inclusion: Percent of Women and Underrepresented Minority Students
  • HR: Staff Levels and Span of Control
  • Financial: Reserve Ratio, Revenue Growth Rate, and Expense Growth Rate
  • OE Program Office: Revenue from New Initiatives and Shared Service Adoption

Who will use the Common Metrics, and how will they be used?

Initially Common Metrics may be accessed and used by anyone on campus, but they are primarily intended to be used by campus-wide leaders, unit leaders, Chief Administrative Officers, etc. The Strategic Management & Metrics project team will provide the framework and toolkit for leaders to align their existing plans and strategies to the Common Metrics to track performance of their initiatives. Leaders will monitor progress against the Common Metrics on a regular basis, and the metrics will provide a common language for leaders to communicate their strategic objectives and outcomes.
Given that the Common Metrics framework is linked to the annual budget cycle and builds upon the university's recent budget reform work, there is also an opportunity for leaders to use Common Metrics as part of their budget narrative to outline their strategic vision and progress to date, and support their resource allocation decisions.

Will these new metrics mean a lot of work for my department?

No. On the contrary we want to decrease the amount of work it now takes to produce this kind of information. Common Metrics data will be provided for units from campus central systems, in particular CalPlanning and Cal Answers. We intend for the Common Metrics to automatically tie into the existing budget schedules and workflow wherever possible.

When will the Common Metrics be introduced to campus?

The suite of Common Metrics will be introduced on a rolling basis throughout 2014 as they are agreed on, refined, and prioritized by campus and functional leaders.