ASEANSAI Setting Clear and Measurable Goals for Success

The author (middle) sitting with workshop participants discussing indicators for the ASEANSAI Strategic Plan.

26 August 2014

When I was younger, I used to ask my mom the time she would come home from work to play with me. She used to tell me: “I´ll be there at 4.30pm; I took the car to get home quickly.” Every day, at 4pm I would sit in the kitchen, checking the hour regularly to see when my mom would arrive. If she arrived after 4.30, I would reproach her with the exact amount of minutes she was late and ask her to give a reason. If she blamed the traffic, I would try to convince her that she should take the bike next time, to avoid being late again.

Simply put, this is what strategic planning and monitoring is all about:

  • Set a clear and measurable goal: be home at 4.30pm.
  • Decide on a strategy to achieve the goal: take the car.
  • Check on the achievement or failure: number of minutes late.
  • Discuss reasons for failure: traffic jam.
  • Revise the strategy to avoid future failure: go by bike.

In a regional organization of 10 Supreme Audit Institutions from ASEAN countries (ASEANSAI) deciding on strategic goals and setting up monitoring systems is much more complex, especially when dealing with good financial governance issues. Yet, the logic remains the same.

In a 4-day Workshop in May, participants from 6 members of ASEANSAI discussed how the goals of their ASEANSAI Strategic Plan can be amended with measurable indicators and what activities they needed to pursue to achieve the defined goals. As in other monitoring workshops, the challenge proved to be in the trade-off between relevance of indicators and costs for data collection. The ASEANSAI participants opted for a pragmatic solution: do not set goals too high and include proxy indicators for goals that are difficult to measure. I would like to recommend that approach to everybody dealing with monitoring on governance related topics.

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