Tuesday, August 16, 2016

ACTION, DATA, EVOLVE! 3 Ground Breaking Moments from the CPBB (Un)Conference

"PBB communities are driving innovation, sharing information, experimenting, advancing lessons learned, and fulfilling the complete mission of PBB to unearth, marshal and re-direct resources towards the betterment of our communities."

Just one week ago, our 5th Annual (un)Conference on Priority Based Budgeting concluded, and to quote one of our attendees who has been to all five “it was easily the most complete Conference, and also the most forward-looking.”

That phrase, “forward-looking,” was the best compliment we could have been paid, and it’s on that theme that I wanted to (not so ironically) look back at three pivotal events that took place at the Conference, and discuss their implications for the PBB movement:

1.     The PBB “Master Plan” has evolved (again!)
2.     Launch of the Institute
3.     PBB 2.0 – Launch of the PBB Community and the power of it’s users

Evolution of the Master Plan: from “implementing PBB” to “using PBB data to make positive change”

In 2008, Jon and I had one simple plan: bail out Jefferson County, Colorado from their multi-million dollar deficit. The roots of PBB came to life to fulfill that mission.

By 2009/2010, ICMA, GFOA, NLC and the Alliance for Innovation urged us to broaden our ability to serve many local governments surviving the Great Recession. The Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) was created “to produce a replicable and scalable methodology and toolset for all local governments” to use. No joke – the height of our ambition at the time was 10 communities; we believed that if we could equip 10 communities with the tools of PBB, we’d change the world! Well, the world’s axis didn’t shift after those 10, but something else equally important took place: PBB was declared “best practice” by ICMA, urging all local governments to implement. The world didn’t change; but a movement was sparked!

Entering 2016, over 100 communities had implemented PBB. Our mission had evolved to “serving as many organizations as possible, as swiftly as possible and our processes and tools evolved to fulfill that purpose. ResourceX was created to provide an online platform that dramatically reduced the time an organization spent “implementing PBB,” enabling leaders to shift their focus to “using PBB data to make change.” And the dramatically evolved OnlinePBB toolset has made the data immediately actionable – literally pointing leaders directly to their opportunity areas for dramatic resource re-allocation.

As Jamie Rouch from the City of Branson, Missouri put it, the evolution of the PBB Master Plan has necessarily shifted from helping communities “implement PBB, to using PBB data to make change!

What this year’s Conference opened up, and what I’ll detail further in the next two sections, is a new frontier of tools from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, from ResourceX , from the PBBi (the “Institute”), and from our partner organizations that will complete the vision of a Prioritized World: when every community can unearth, marshal and re-direct all of our community’s resources (our taxes, our people, our public and private institutions) to dramatically improve how we achieve safer communities, healthier people, thriving local economies and the Results that serve the betterment of society.

The launch of the Institute - PBBi: All Roads Lead to Rome

To achieve this mission, it was critical that we open up all possible options for communities to implement PBB, as well as for communities to master their wealth of PBB data to make change.

To this end, we launched the PBBi at the Conference with two stated objectives:
1.)  For 1st year PBB implementers: provide training, coaching, templates and certification for organizations wanting to take control of their own implementation, with assistance along the way
2.)  For experienced PBB users: provide advanced training for communities taking action on their PBB data.

For the 1st year implementers, we realized that for many communities, they desired an opportunity to immerse their leaders and staff in the core principles of PBB, such that they could become masters to lead the process on their own, with coaching and guidance from CPBB.

Opening up Institute offerings that are more “class-room” / “group-learning” style, enables many organizations at once to learn the methodology and become credentialed with the skills required to master the use of the online tools. Fundamentally, this opens up a never-before-possible pathway for many more organizations to implement.

This is key to the overall vision – again, back in 2009 we had 10 communities launch the movement… now, over 120 are actively reshaping their communities with PBB. With PBBi, we can effectively serve many more, and on their own terms. In the build-out of ancient Rome, all of it’s people across all of it’s geography were led to the central enlightening hub of civilization (it’s “city center”) by it’s ingenious design of a road system where it was said that “all road lead to Rome.” No matter what road is appropriate for your organization (group-learning / classroom style, self-led implementation, or facilitated consulting), all roads lead to your PBB success.

For experienced PBB users, the evolution that must take place is the shift from “identifying opportunity areas” to actually taking action, creating implementation plans, and executing change. During the Conference, Eric Keck, City of Englewood’s City Manager (and the first city manager to implement PBB in two different cities) gave a riveting presentation on the merger of his Fire Department with the City of Denver’s. It was clear that a public-public partnership opportunity existed and would create dramatic efficiency; however, envisioning an implementation plan to address labor issues, public perception, and actually realizing the savings born from the partnership was key to execution.

This is illustrative of the type of training and focus that communities can get from the PBBi – advanced instruction and pin-pointed guidance on executing change. In short, PBBi will train you how to act on your PBB opportunity areas.

PBB 2.0the launch of the PBB User Group Community, the HUB, and peering into the future

The Conference also saw the launch of a distinct “Track 2” for the advancement of Priority Based Budgeting. This track was built specifically for users of OnlinePBB, and coalesced around three key themes: ACTION, DATA, EVOLVE.


Action in OnlinePBB centers on the following:
1.)  Minimizing time spent on “implementing PBB” in order to maximize opportunity to devote time to “using PBB data to make positive change”
2.)  Putting you, the users in control of your PBB experience
3.)  Making your PBB data actionable

The mark of success at the Conference was the amount of time devoted to discussion of how communities are taking action and driving change. And the user group delved deep into the reporting capabilities in OnlinePBB including the 5 Policy Questions, Program Cost Analyzer, and the RAD 2.0 – each designed to produce actionable reports customized for each department to review the programs that represent clear opportunity for resource reallocation.


Consider the following explanation of how the digitalization of information is a catalyst for innovation. It comes from Peter Diamandis, in his book BOLD:

      “With digitalization, the pace of information exchange increases, causing acceleration in the pace of innovation.
      This type of exchange was slow in the early days of our species, when all we had as a means of transmission was storytelling around the campfire. It picked up with the invention of writing and, later, of the printing press and the photocopier, then exploded with the digital representation, storage, and exchange of ideas that computers enabled.
      Anything that can be digitized can spread at the speed of light (or at least the speed of the Internet). This spreading has followed a consistent pattern of exponential growth.”

The launch of the PBB Community website, “the HUB” can be thought of as a virtual campfire for sharing PBB lessons learned and experiences, or as Mike Seman put it: “it’s the PBB 2.0 User Group 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year.” 


Here was an awesome moment: on the third day of the Conference, towards the end when attendees were in information overload, and some had flights to catch, an audience member took advantage of the open Q&A to ask “what are your plans for integrating Fiscal Health forecasting analysis into PBB.”

Not only was it a great question (and you’ll have to “stay tuned” for the answer, coming up in our Technology Road Map), but it was even more important that the question was even asked. The PBB Community has come to expect and even anticipate the evolution of PBB. And it’s completely exhilarating to see not only the tools of OnlinePBB evolve, but more importantly the instincts and ambitions of PBB implementers evolve!

To that end, the integration of Capital Improvement Planning, rate studies, workforce analysis
(workforce development and succession planning), public private partnerships, “Managed Competition”, Internal Service Funds, target budgeting, budget reporting and linking performance metrics (“priority measures”) to programs were among the Hot Topics discussed

Clearly, the show-stopper unveiling was OpenPBBdata – reframing the conversation of “open data” and fiscal transparency, withing the context of Priority Based Budgeting. Strathcona County, Alberta is leading the charge on Open Data and championing innovation on this front.

So, in short, in case you missed it (or want to relive it!), the “forward looking take-aways” from this year’s unConference:
·      PBB implementers have ushered in an evolution to the PBB mission, from “implementing PBB” to “using PBB data to make positive change.”
·      The final barriers to joining the PBB movement are being removed, with the launch of PBBi (the “Insititute”) which offers an on-boarding track to train first time implementers, and an advanced track leading implementers to envision and execute real, sweeping, positive change.
·      PBB 2.0 communities are driving innovation, sharing information, experimenting, advancing lessons learned, and fulfilling the complete mission of PBB to unearth, marshal and re-direct resources towards the betterment of our communities.

For those who missed the Conference, and are interested in OnlinePBB, the Institute, or joining the PBB movement, email efabian@pbbcenter.org to schedule a webinar for your organization.

Keep an eye on the CPBB blog for further updates. Sign-up for our social media pages so you stay connected with TEAM CPBB!

If you're thinking of jumping into the world of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting we would certainly like to be part of your efforts! Contact us to schedule a free webinar and identify the best CPBB service option(s) to meet your organization's particular needs.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An Analysis of Survey Data from Municipalities who have Implemented Priority Based Budgeting

PBB & Strategic Planning

An analysis of survey data from municipalities who have implemented priority based budgeting
For the 5th year in a row, Priority Based Budgeting has been the subject of a Master's degree or PHD thesis defense. CPBB's annual Conference has provided a platform to showcase the academic experts and researchers, as it is our belief that unbiased academic research is part of the key to the Priority Based Budgeting movement - the more research, the more we all learn, and the more the PBB Community is able to evolve to achieve the overall mission of fundamentally reshaping resource allocation in our communities.

Liz Butterfield continues this tradition with her Master's Capstone exploration of the influence that PBB has had on strategic planning in local government. Her paper provides key insights that suggest Priority Based Budgeting is encouraging communities to understand long-term strategic planning in new ways. With the tools of PBB, leaders and decision makers are better able to understand how their resources are being marshaled to achieve their policy objectives - thereby reinforcing the importance of strategic goal setting, as policy makers have a clearer path to achieve their stated Results.

We at the Center for Priority Based Budgeting are especially intrigued with Liz's capstone research findings, and will provide Liz the stage at the CPBB Conference next week to share the implications of her work. Congratulations Liz! Great work advancing our communities!
This capstone was completed during summer 2016 for the Center for Priority Based Budgeting in partnership with the Alliance for Innovation. The capstone fulfills the requirements for completion of MPA coursework for the University of Colorado - Denver School of Public Affairs.
The analysis attempts to look at a relationship between two variables, priority-based budgeting and strategic planning in local governments. The research attempted to identify links between priority-based budgeting and strategic planning through an analysis of the presence and use of strategic plans, their impact on workflows, and an evaluation of the perceived value of connecting strategic planning to the budgeting process.

CPBB Clients & Respondents

*Note: International locations not included in this map of survey respondents**Note: Clients who were not members of municipalities (e.x. airports, school districts, others) were excluded from the survey
The Center for Priority Based Budgeting works with clients across the United States and Canada. For the purposes of this report, only municipalities who have implemented priority-based budgeting (PBB) were used in the analysis. These clients were asked to respond to a survey on their experiences.


All survey participants indicated they used at least three elements of strategic planning at least “occasionally” (does this activity less than once per year), using the survey question key to indicate what elements of strategic planning were used and how frequently. Because each of the participants responded they used some elements of strategic planning, the key to this research is to what extent the priority-based budgeting process changed their strategic planning since implementation.  

Respondent counts: Strategic plan elements


Never: never does this activity
Occasionally: does this activity less than once a year
Frequently: does this activity once or twice a year
Consistently: does this activity every quarter or more frequently

Frequency of use: Strategic plan elements by type

The graph below depicts the frequency of use by type of strategic plan element the respondents reported. Click on each element to display the frequency chart. 

While most organizations who have implemented priority-based budgeting use strategic planning elements, the data indicates majority do not use a combination of elements “consistently,” i.e. every quarter or more frequently.  

Respondent counts: Stakeholders involved in strategic planning

The graph below depicts the number of respondents who selected stakeholders involved in strategic planning processes. About 97% of respondents indicated members of the executive management team or directors were involved in the strategic planning process, with about 94% indicating Councilors were involved.
302520151050ResidentsCouncilExecutiveManagement TeamDirectorsBudget DepartmentOther StaffOther Stakeholders1531323227169

Influence of PBB: Perceptions of connection and change

The second grouping of major results is found in a series of questions regarding the relationship between strategic planning and the change resulting from implementing priority-based budgeting. Click on each element below to display frequencies in perception of these relationships.
About 37% of respondents noted that implementing priority-based budgeting had a moderate change in their strategic planning process. Additionally, 37% of respondents reported there was a large connection between their strategic planning process and budgeting. 


Link from PBB to Strategic Planning

This analysis does not attempt to indicate that adding priority-based budgeting caused a change in strategic planning, but it attempts to identify perceptions of change in strategic planning processes. About 85% of respondents indicated they strongly agreed that strategic planning and budgeting should be closely aligned. Additionally, these analyses indicate that the majority of those who perceived a moderate or large amount of change in their strategic planning process after implementing priority-based budgeting also believed there to be a strong link between budgeting and strategic planning.

CPBB provided tools for strategic planning?

About 75% of respondents indicated the CPBB provided them with tools for strategic planning. 

Is it beneficial for PBB to provide structured strategic planning tools?

In addition to 75% of respondents indicating the CPBB provided them with tools for strategic planning, about 69% of respondents overall indicated providing structured strategic planning tools would be either very beneficial or extremely beneficial to them.

Analysis & Recommendations

The result that about 85% of municipalities strongly agree that strategic planning and budgeting should be closely linked does not seem too surprising when looking to the crosstabs analysis of the link between workflow based off strategic planning and the level of change perceived in workflow after implementing priority-based budgeting, where 66.7% of respondents saw moderate changes in both. This research also indicates there are questions not answered by this study that remain open to further research. For example, to what extent have processes changed based off the tools provided by the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB)? How has priority-based budgeting impacted the strategic planning more specifically? Although the CPBB does not explicitly provide tools to aide strategic planning, according to about 75% of respondents the Center provided them with some tools to help with strategic planning.

This is interesting, since strategic planning is not the explicit intent of the CPBB, but appears to be a side effect of their program. Because of the very high rate of respondents who strongly agreed that budgeting and strategic planning should be connected, it might be of use for the CPBB to provide more structured elements of strategic planning to their program.

There are other relationships between the priority-based budgeting products and its impact on municipal work that deserve more study as well. Looking to how priority-based budgeting has impacted more than just the budgeting process, such as changes in work processes or use of more strategic planning elements, might also be important for the CPBB to identify what additional products or strategies to use in the future. The Center may be able to find ways to more closely link strategic planning and the budgeting process, or help municipalities include a variety of stakeholders through both the strategic planning process and budgeting initiatives so they better complement one another. 

Respondent counts: "Strategic planning and budgeting should be closely aligned"

2520151050Strongly disagreeSlightly disagreeNeither agree nor disagreeSlightly agreeStrongly agree100428

It would also be of use for the Center for Priority Based Budgeting to begin a deeper analysis as to where the municipalities are within the strategic planning process before implementing priority-based budgeting. As one respondent stated in their survey, “The organization had no (strategic) planning process. PBB created a (structure) for it, but there has been little to no follow through.” As indicated above, municipalities engage in a range of strategic planning elements to build strategic planning efforts. It may be of use for the CPBB to identify what the strategic planning process exists already before beginning the priority-based budgeting process; this may enable clients to better link strategic planning and budgeting ahead of implementing the new budgeting program.


Providing additional tools to help with strategic planning could include structured workshops, an analysis of where the organization is with current strategic planning efforts and an outline of how to use priority-based budgeting alongside strategic planning as the new program is implemented. This way, each organization that works with priority-based budgeting can have the opportunity to improve their strategic planning efforts alongside priority-based budgeting and align the two early on.
For more information on this study or questions regarding results, please contact the researcher, Liz Butterfield, at butterfield.lizbeth@gmail.com. Thank you!