Performance Standards

Dear Management Doctor,

I have no idea if I would be charged for this information or if I could be privy to it.

I’m writing a article on performance standards and I believe you have some information that would be helpful. I’m aware in your consulting reports you note that many organizations have acceptable standards. However, often times they’re not met for community development departments.

Is there any way you can provide me with details of your independent study or how that was assessment was reached?  Obviously, there are multiple departments: Planning, Building, etc. However, any information would be helpful.

I think that this article would further your consulting cause as I’m trying to help people understand the need for consulting as their effectiveness is often marginal without it.

I hope to hear from you soon.



Dear Vincent,

There are many different types of performance standards. Look under free information on our web site under performance standards and you will see 15 article. Since you are talking about multiple departments, it sounds like you are looking at standards for the development process and here are a few tips:

  • I can go into any city or county in the US or Canada and talk to developers and their complaint is always the same, i.e. it takes too long to get a permit.
  • Unless you have performance standard, the standard is we will get to it when its place in line comes up. Without performance standards you have no way to set staffing levels or provide any certainty for your customers.
  • The performance standards need to be consistent and coordinated between all functions. Normally that is at least planning, building, engineering, and fire; although we have seen as many as 20 different departments involved in the processes.
  • Standards should be set for the initial review, and then if there are multiple reviews, a different standard for each subsequent review. We like to cut the standard in half for each review. For example, if the standard for the first review is 20 days, the second review should be 10 days and third review 5 day. The standards should be published and available on the website.
  • Performance should be monitored and standards should be met for at least 90% of the applications. For communities that have a computer permitting system, it should be easy to flag any application not meeting the standard and take action to correct it. Summary reports on a weekly or monthly basis should also be public and displayed for staff and the public to see on a Dashboard. If workload exceeds staff’s ability to perform, standby consultants, overtime, retired former employees, etc. should be used to perform the service.
  • The actual standard will vary by community. We have completed 170 studies and have our own rule of thumb we use as a starting point. A few examples are given below.
  • Building, fire and engineering inspection requests should be completed no later than the next day after requested. A few communities even try to do them the same day requested.
  • New single family house reviews should be 5 or 10 days.
  • Single family remodels, 5 days or in some cases the same day.
  • Multi-family, depending on the size of the project, 10 to 15 days.
  • Small commercial projects, 10 days.
  • Large commercial projects, 15 to 20 days.
  • Tenant improvements, 5 days.
  • Standards should be measured in business days rather than calendar days.

This along with the website articles should give you a start.

For good performance,

the Management Doctor