Targets missed - again - by C&RT

December 2017 - With figures belatedly published for the first four months of C&RT's 2017/18 financial year, trustees have been informed by Chief Executive, Richard Parry, that the trust will fail to meet this years target for recruiting 'Friends'. This will be the sixth year in a row that C&RT has failed to meet its 'Friends' target and the stage is set for its 2017/18 annual report to show yet another substantial loss against 'charitable giving'. Allan Richards takes a look at the 'Key Performance Indicators'.

Each year, the trust defines 'key performance indicators (KPI's)' with targets to be achieved by year end. Performance during the year is reported bi-monthly to the board against interim targets. A traffic light system is used such that trustees can quickly identify progress -
- Green indicates that the KPI is ahead of interim target
- Amber (sometimes called yellow) indicates that the KPI is behind interim target but this may be recoverable by year end
- Red indicates that the full year KPI target can not be achieved
In its 2015/16 Annual Report (page 45), C&RT took the unprecedented step of documenting its KPI target of 22,500 Friends actively donating to the Trust at the end of the next financial year. A year later, the 2016/17 Annual Report (page 5) documented its failure. It only managed just over 20,600, significantly down on target.

Undaunted by this failure, the 2016/17 report set a new target of 28,500 for 2017/18. However, the first four months of this year saw the number of Friends rise to just 22,699, far short of its interim target. This led to a 'red' Friends KPI with the chief executive's board report (22 September) stating 'Appendix 1 sets out performance across the range of KPIs agreed by the Board for 2017/18. The most significant issue is the move of the Friends measure to ‘red’ status. Redacted. Other measures with amber status can be recovered during the remainder of the year.'

'Redacted' means that confidential information has been removed - in this case, probably the reason Richard Parry provided for the failure!
As an aside, some eight items were redacted in the Chief Executives report which was only just over a page long. Interestingly, the accompanying Governance Report for this board meeting indicates that the approach to redacting board minutes had been reviewed by Head of Governance, Audit and Risk, Gill Eastwood. The outcome of the review was redacted. Only Franz Kafka could come up with anything as ridiculous!

Key Performance Indicators and targets for 2017-18

Turning to the KPI's with amber (yellow) status. These are -

- Diversity - % of staff Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic

- £ million secured from restricted statutory and voluntary funding, philanthropic and individual giving and contributions in kind

- Employee, Volunteer and Contractor Safety: RIDDOR Accident Frequency Rate - accidents per 100,000 hours

- Public Safety: no of reported safety incidents

- No of Volunteer Hours per annum

- No of adoptions of our waterways (each adoption scheme roughly equates to 1 mile)

- No of individual visitors to our waterways in a typical two week period (over last 12 months)

The number of Volunteer hours per annum appeared to give the trustees some concern. Against a year end target of 600,000 hours and a July interim target of 157,000, the trust only managed 140,531. Richard Parry and the now departed Customer Service and Operations Director, Ian Rogers, explained this as 'almost certainly due to a lag in recording'.
It must be pointed out, however, that the board meeting took place some seven weeks after the end of July. Do volunteers really wait that long before recording hours and making expense claims? Besides, the July interim target of 157,000 already appears to take into account lag in recording.

Perhaps it would have been better for Mr Parry and Mr Rogers to tell the truth in the matter. Having set a KPI yearly target higher than the previous year, Volunteer hours recorded for the first four months were actually down!

The other area causing concern for the trustees is visitor numbers. The KPI measure is 'No of individual visitors to our waterways in a typical two week period (over last 12 months)' and it is central to C&RT's bid to convince Government that it is improving the 'wellbeing' of towpath users.

The following is taken from annual reports (page numbers given for anyone wishing to check) -

2014/15 (page 47) - 4.5m
2015/16 (page 42) - 4.4m
2016/17 (page 46) - 4.3m

C&RT's target for 2017/18 indicates an attempt to reverse the downward trend in visitor numbers and bring the KPI back up to its 2014/15 figure of 4.5m. However, it is failing miserably with the July interim figure showing just 4.1m. In fact, it's still going down.

In summary, the Friends KPI target for 2017/18 is unattainable, as is C&RT's long term aspiration of 100,000 Friends in its first ten years. Visitor numbers are still are drifting downwards having improved in earlier years and volunteer hours are lower than the same period last year.

Little wonder C&RT is having a clear out of senior staff. ​

Photos: (1st) Key Performance Indicators and targets for 2017-18, (2nd) Gill Eastwood - redacted the results of her report on redacting Board minutes in a Kafkaesque decision, (3rd) Ian Rodgers - didn't tell the Board visitor numbers were down, (4th) Richard Parry - had to tell the Board the Friends target would be missed - again.

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