Cascade Performance Based Budgeting Software™

Cascade Performance Based Budgeting Software

Cascade Performance Based Budgeting Software™ is a fully-integrated Performance Management solution that links strategic planning, performance budgeting and performance reporting in a system that has been designed specifically to meet the unique needs of government agencies.  Developed by Knovos (Fairfax, VA), Cascade is not a replacement for an organization's existing budgeting and financial management systems, and instead is the program performance solution that links to and enhances those systems.  The lead design architect for Cascade is John Mercer, and the software includes an extensive set of expert, "how-to" guidance with specific examples to assist managers and other users.

Cascade is offered in two versions:

  • Federal Government version, with embedded guidance relating specifically to GPRA, OMB Circular A-11, GPRAMA, and President Obama’s management reforms,
  • General Government version, with guidance suitable for any governmental organization (U.S. or non-U.S.) on how to develop useful performance goals and to define effective strategies.  This version also offers an optional Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) module that links directly to the Performance Budget.

The underlying features and functionality of Cascade is identical in both versions, with the main difference being in some aspects of the embedded how-to guidance.  Be sure to see the outline of Cascade's key features describing how the software can help your own organziation.

Cascade PBB Software™ Screenshots

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Learn more about Cascade Performance Based Budgeting Software™ and its support for Performance Management by visiting the Knovos website.  See how this uniquely effective solution can be of great value to any organziation -- at any level of government, in any country.

Cascade and OMB's Performance Improvement Guidance

On June 25, 2010, the Office of Management and Budget issued memorandum M-10-24, Performance Improvement Guidance: Management Responsibilities and Government Perforamnce and Results Act Documents.  As it describes, “This memorandum provides guidance to all Federal agencies on their Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and other performance management activities for the next year.”

Cascade's Federal Government version is a uniquely effective solution for addressing all of the items addressed by OMB in this memorandum, because the software was specifically designed to implement exactly those types of reforms. This new product includes features that enable:

  • Identifying High Priority Performance Goals
  • Identifying the Goal Leaders
  • Integrating program goals into performance reports
  • Using and communicating performance information
  • Strengthening problem-solving networks
  • Making GPRA documents more useful
  • Supporting quarterly (or more frequent) performance reviews
  • Linking program-generated results to a performance website

The table in the section below describes some of the features of Cascade that support and enable these reforms.

Performance Management Framework

Summary of how Cascade Performance Based Budgeting Software™ supports government agencies in implementing a comprehensive, effective Performance Management Framework:

What Government Agencies
Are Trying to Do
Challenges That Many Agencies Face
The Cascade Approach
Advantages of Cascade

Implement a comprehensive performance management system that enables the organization to be:

  • results-oriented
  • well-managed
  • high-performing
Incomplete understanding of what a performance management system is and no overall framework for its development and implementation Provides a structured process for clearly linking every activity of every program and support function to the annual and long-term goals of the agency Offers the most effective solution ever designed for developing the framework for a comprehensive, agency-wide performance management system
Difficulty in extending agency-wide strategic planning and performance budgeting to every organizational sub-unit in every location around the country

Standardized templates for strategic planning & performance budgeting for use at all levels of the agency

Templates are cascaded down from superior to subordinates, throughout the entire agency, reaching every manager in every sub-unit and location

Provides a powerful tool for involving every manager at every level and in every location in the agency-wide strategic planning and performance budgeting processes

Ensures that every manager in the agency has goals and strategies that directly link to and explicitly support the goals of the entire organization

Agency support functions do not directly link to and explicitly support achievement of the agency's programmatic goals Emphasis is given to agency support functions as well as programmatic operations, and the interrelationship between the two is documented Identifies for each support function the specific assistance they should provide to each individual manager in support of program goals, to ensure that plans are coordinated

Develop strategic plans and performance budgets that contain meaningful goals and effective strategies that –

  • are effective in guiding the agency and its program activities at every level, and
  • help justify budget requests

Some managers do not have a good understanding of how to –

  • develop appropriate, useful performance measures, and
  • describe clear, specific strategies for their own areas of responsibility

Detailed guidance is provided to each Cascade user for every item on their template

Guides every manager in developing goals and strategies for their own areas of responsibility so as to provide a clear, meaningful picture of planned performance

Develop performance budgets that effectively integrate budget and performance information at every level of the agency

Inability to associate program costs with program results in a way that is meaningful for -

  • policy formulation
  • budget justification
  • program management

Weak or non-existent linkage of long-term and annual goals to day-to-day activities

Higher-level Cascade performance budgeting templates link to lower-level templates that summarize activity-based costing data, showing how dollars fund activities that generate outputs that support outcomes Links every day-to-day program activity, and its associated costs, to the appropriate long-term and annual goals of the agency
Develop strategic and performance plans that strike the right balance between being comprehensive and specific enough to be meaningful and informative, yet focused and succinct enough to be readable and useful Agency-wide strategic and performance plans are often so general in their descriptions, in order to avoid becoming overly massive documents, that they frequently lack sufficient details about the who, what, and why of actions that are planned

All of the documents generated by completing the Cascade templates, when taken together, create two large online data bases that cover the entire agency - an in-depth strategic plan & an in-depth performance budget

Goal map provided of all goals and measures in the entire agency, with links to the relevant Cascade planning documents

Allows sufficiently comprehensive agency-wide plans to be developed that are both specific and succinct - i.e., summary documents may be individually created, but with linkages to a greater level of detail in the large online data bases for the strategic plan and the performance budget, and references and linkages to other planning documents of the agency
Too many stand-alone plans (both in program areas and support functions) and other supporting documents that are not directly linked to the agency's overall strategic plan and performance budget Includes a document management tool for linking the strategic plan and the performance budget to a wide range of planning and supporting documentation of the agency and its sub-units
Coordinate with other agencies and organizations on common goals and strategies

Existing agency strategic plans and performance budgets inadequately reflect interagency coordination

A lead agency’s goals can be cascaded to any other agency or organization, so that related goals of a common effort are explicitly linked in the goal hierarchy Promotes interagency coordination by showing clearly how a higher-level goal is being supported by the coordinated efforts (goals and strategies) of programs at different agencies
Track and report performance effectively, so that the agency and its programs can actually “manage for results” and provide useful performance reports Inability to link day-to-day program performance with agency-wide results Provides a performance scorecard for each goal in the performance budget’s goal chart, cascading all the way down the organization Shows explicitly how lower-level program activities and outputs are linked to and have supported higher-level outcomes, all the way up the organization
Difficulty in providing useful performance reporting that enable programs to be managed for results

Provides a scorecard for reporting interim results throughout the year, with color-coded indicators spotlighting relative levels of performance

Clearly shows the trends in program performance

Includes explanatory note fields for providing narrative summaries

The actual results for each goal in the entire organization may be reported on regularly during the year, so that managers at every level can guide their programs to maximum efficiency and effectiveness

Explanatory notes accompanying the reported results enable a clearer understanding of how strategy implementation and other factors are affecting performance

Agency annual performance reports lack depth, so it is often not clear why certain goals were or were not achieved, in sufficient detail to guide future planning

Annual performance reporting may be cascaded all the way down to the lowest organizational unit in the field

Annual performance reporting scorecards include color-coded indicators spotlighting relative levels of performance, clear indications of trends in program results, and explanatory summations for the year

Cascade’s performance reporting scorecards show the underlying details behind the higher-level performance summaries of the usual type of annual performance report, thereby providing a clearer understanding of why programs are or are not meeting their goals and how future planning should be affected
Include program performance as an important element in evaluating managers Little managerial accountability for program performance Each Cascade template indicates the individual manager responsible for each of its goals and strategies Provides meaningful, measurable goals for every manager in a way that offers a “clear line of sight” to the objectives of the entire organization