Organizational Audits

Dear Management Doctor:

Just thought I would mention that I was a speaker at the Washington State Chapter APA conference in Spokane yesterday in a management session relating to performance auditing. I spoke about the organizational evaluation you conducted here in Kent and the City's efforts to implement its recommendations. The panel included a Clark County representative who also reported on their audit (also of the permitting system). What was interesting was the reaction of the audience, a rather large room full of mostly planners who were involved in the permit process, who found several reasons why timeliness of permit issuance is not a measure of greatness. The audience reminded me of where Kent was three years a state of denial. I'm feeling good about the changes we've been through. So are our customers. But, I stuck to the facts and resisted the urge to brag. And, bragging is hard to resist now. Our monthly reports show 84.5% of permits being issued on time and a large percentage of the remainder being issued within another day or two. This is being accomplished with some of the highest customer satisfaction ratings possible. Yes, I'm glad we went through the audit and wouldn't trade places with anybody in the audience.


Fred N. Satterstrom, AICP

Dear Fred:

How true it is. In all of our studies, we find the two top issues with customers are (1) can we get a shorter timeline and, (2) consistency and clarity of information and requirements. Keep up the good work.

The Management Doctor

Reader Response

Clark County, WA completed an audit of its Community Development Department in December 2000. In February of 2000, we made a presentation to our Board of County Commissioners, showing that over the previous two years, we had improved the percentage of times we met our deadlines from 53% to 85%. In spite of these gains, an audit was initiated.
The final product included a list of recommended improvements. About 95% of the recommended improvements were taken from our list of "things to do." Over half of the remaining suggested improvements are not being implemented because they are not practical.
Performing good work is not enough. If you are doing good work but the perception is otherwise (even at the Board level), then you need to change the perception. Promoting your success is critical.

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