How much more funding could your agency attract if you were able to predict Workforce Development outcomes. Imagine if you were able to tell funders that with an additional grant funding you could predictably guarantee an x-return in outcomes. Some may think this is pie in the sky thinking, but the reality is it is possible with today’s new technology and a little bit of thinking and planning.
When I worked as a sales representative at Remedy Staffing, a national leader in temporary and full time staffing, my sales manager required of me a sales forecast. Every month I would have to commit to a certain amount in sales and provider her my forecast. This was an incredibly valuable tool for me as well as my employer because it gave me a target to shoot for an forced me to think about my operations and it provided them a certain level of performance predictability.
What is a forecast
A forecast “predicts” outcomes at a future date, typically 30, 60, 90 or 180 days out. For example let’s say you receive a training grant that requires you to track outcomes such as “# of enrolled” and “# entered employment”. A forecast would say you predict to enroll 100 participants by June 30th and have 90 participants “entered employment” by December 31st.
The trends in Workforce Development today are moving toward adopting some of these business process to accelerate the effectiveness of job training and reemployment. Forecasting is one of the best ways to do this. The following are 3 quick and easy steps to help you forecast and predict outcomes.
1. Track Your Activity
Real time activity tracking is critical to your ability to forecast outcomes. For Workforce Development this means tracking activity and outcomes such as participants enrolled, job orders, interviews and entered employed. You may want to track additional criteria as well. We recommend tracking this information no less than weekly.
2. Understand your Inputs and Outputs (I/O)
Inputs are basically the start of the process. The activity which initiates your programs such as recruiting participants or calling on employers. Your outputs are you outcomes such as, “entered employment” or “earned certificates”. How many participants do you need to enroll into the program in order to meet your goals. How many participants do you need to screen for eligibility. In order to forecast outcomes you absolutely must know your Inputs and Outputs.
3. Create a funnel report
This is the funnest part of forecasting—getting to look at a nice colorful representation of your program activity. This graphic represents a “Funnel Dashboard” from our Worksource application on the Salesforce.com platform. A funnel report is a dashboard which shows the inputs moving through the stages of the program and down to a successful outcome. For example, a job developer may have a funnel report to track job orders. At the top of the funnel would be prospective or “identified” job orders and then move down through the stages and out to Placements.
4. Predicting Outcomes
Now that you have tracked your activity, identified your Inputs and Outputs and setup a funnel report you can now begin to forecast outcomes. It usually takes about 3 month to begin to get enough historical data to understand your success ratios. For example, if you bring in 20 new jobs and on average your fill about 10 jobs within that time frame you have an order fill ratio of 50%. Then you can do some basic math and estimate if you want to make 30 placements this quarter than you need to bring in 60 positions. Obviously, there are many more variable that will come into play, but the key is activity tracking, understanding your I/O and manage with a funnel.
Let me know your thoughts. How might you use forecasting to predict outcomes?