Impact-oriented controlling box
Consistent impact orientation of organisations or the public sector requires impact-oriented controlling. The impact-oriented controlling box is a tool that builds on an overall organisational impact model of an organisation or a sector and considers the impacts of different services on several stakeholders at the same time.
The first step is to define indicators for measuring impacts for different stakeholders and to set target values for those indicators . It is usually necessary to prioritize impacts, as not all impacts can be measured due to limited resources. The target values can be found in the grey fields of the controlling box (see figure below). In a second step, the intended impacts are hypothetically linked to projects/services provided and impact value chains are built for each service and stakeholder. How do services or products effect different stakeholders? This is the impact model of an organisation. The first two steps, the definition of goals and the elaboration of how these impact goals are achieved, define the strategy of an organisation.
The transition from strategy to management is the next step. It is characterised by the orientation towards verifying impacts. The aim is to show empirically the actual status of achieving one’s impact by gathering data (also grey fields in the figure). In this step, it is important to choose an approach to identify or measure impacts that suits the organisation and its activities. In this process, impacts can also be identified that were not intended and later are not significant at first in a variance analysis (comparison of target and actual status). However, in the sense of an iterative process, these can flow into the (future) strategy development. In a fourth step, actual values are compared with the target values set at the beginning by means of a variance analysis. It becomes clear what services achieve a target value established for them to what extent. Hereby, possibilities to adapt existing services could be identified in order to better achieve impact goals (target values) in the future.
Aggregation of impacts
Particularly in relation to the entire organisation, the question of aggregating impacts across projects and stakeholders arises. For example, it might be interesting to what extent all projects/services have an impact on a stakeholder. Using the example of services for people with disability, the question could be to what extent all services in the area of people with disabilities promote their inclusion in society? This level of aggregation is shown in the yellow bar of the controlling box. Impacts can only be aggregated easily across all projects if the same or very similar indicators were used for measurement. Alternatively, a comparison of different indicators is possible by assessing which indicator values are desired. The shares at which these desired values are achieved can then be compared or aggregated. This is also necessary if impacts should be aggregated across all stakeholders (red bar in the control box). How high is the increased quality of life of all stakeholders of a project? Again, this can only be aggregated if similar quality of life indicators have been used or assessed across all stakeholders.
In addition, there is often a desire to aggregate diverse impacts in order to show the overall social added value for a project (blue/red bar), a stakeholder group (blue/yellow bar) or even the overall social added value for the entire organisation across all stakeholder (yellow/blue/red bar). In any case, aggregation is a methodological challenge. Impacts arise in different temporal, spatial and content dimensions. They are therefore often difficult to aggregate. This can be remedied either by converting them into monetary units (with the help of the monetisation tree in the sense of the SROI analysis) or by aggregating them via shares in surveys in a social science context. However, the latter only works if the impacts can all be determined by means of shares whose importance has been weighted. This would be the case, for example, if the share of those who feel physical, financial or psychological relief and how important this is to the people in each case were surveyed. The percentage of agreement, weighted with the importance, can be used to calculate an index of the impact, which provides information about the overall achievement of the impact.
In concrete terms, the impact-oriented controlling box is an instrument that is created and filled with data for projects or services, stakeholder groups and intended impacts and corresponding indicators. Usually, the instrument is applied in the form of a database or at least an Excel-based pivot table.
The concept of the impact-oriented controlling box enables a differentiated view of projects or services and the intended impacts generated. At the same time, it offers an overall view of the impact of the projects or services in individual impact dimensions, on individual stakeholders or aggregated on society as a whole. In this way, on the one hand, aggregated controlling can be carried out and, on the other hand, data is available to present the impacts across all services and stakeholders. This also facilitates communication and legitimisation of the organisation.
Example of an impact-oriented controlling box
In the following figure, the idea of controlling explained above is illustrated by means of an example. The organisation as a whole (e.g. the social department of a federal state or a foundation) has set itself the impact goal of enabling inclusion for 80% of the direct beneficiaries across all services (bottom left yellow corner of the box). Currently, this is only the case for 60% (actual value). A comparison of the services with regard to this one impact shows that the ACTUAL value is 30% for fully supported housing and 50% for mobile services. These two services would therefore have to be adapted or alternative services would have to be used to increase the impact to 80%. In particular, something needs to be changed in the service offer "fully assisted living", as shown by the red arrows. This means, for example, reducing the service while at the same time expanding other services, such as personal assistance (second line of the box), where 80% inclusion is already achieved.
Of course, when interventions are taken to change a (desired) impact, attention must be paid to the extent to which other impacts are affected. A reduction of service A and an expansion of service B to increase impact A can, under certain circumstances, reinforce another undesired impact. Here, in a participatory, political negotiation process or on the basis of the mission statement or the fundamental laws and legal framework conditions it must be weighed up which concrete change should be made. By using the impact oriented controlling box decisions are not based on data and indicators on input and output, but on data and indicators on impact.