Measuring Success

“You can’t simply invent or purchase a new system, implement it and then expect your employees to automatically adhere to it. It changes something that’s been done a certain way for awhile and if they don’t understand it they’ll have a difficult time buying into it,” explains Brissa.

“Here, our employees are most likely involved in the investigation and recommendation of the type of system we’ll purchase. Then, a cross-functional team is involved in the implementation process. This team then becomes our internal trainers on the system we’re implementing.”

Brissa emphasizes a training regimen that’s well-rounded. In Naperville, training is not limited to how employees perform their jobs in the field. Further education in things like communication skills, customer service and managing change are key ingredients to a successful staff, says Brissa.

“You have to have a clear understanding of where your community is headed — a clear vision of what they want, and it’s the staff’s job to find out the how. Once that’s done, training opportunities tend to rise to the top,” says Brissa.

“We have daily management boards, which include a lot of the key measurements for each department. One of those measurements that we keep in the human resources department is training hours. We made it a strategic goal that every full-time employee in the district would receive at least 20 hours of what we consider formal training. We also have development plans for each full-time employee, where supervisors and employees sit down and create a development plan for the employee for the upcoming year, which includes mutually agreed-upon training needs.”

Managing Revenue

Perfecting those individual processes and procedures — whether related to staff, facilities or programs — to a big-picture goal is the aim. But those individual components cannot add up without a broader vision.

“Even though we’re not for profit, it’s no secret in this industry that you have to perform to net revenue expectations. The days of simply looking at the revenue you bring in are over. We have to keep increasing our net revenue,” says Brissa.

Naperville is working on accomplishing its broader outcome-based and net-revenue goals with a re-vamped capital plan process that effectively prioritizes every possible upcoming project in the next 20 years.

These projects are given a current dollar value, with a 3 percent up-charge added each year to keep up with inflation. So, if Naperville plans to build something ten years from now, the city will take today’s value, add three percent to each of those ten years and put that new number in the capital forecast.

As projects come to fruition, those projects fall off the capital forecast and move to the capital plan. The key to this process, says Brissa, is a priority system that goes from 1-10. The ranking system identifies the relative importance of certain criteria, such as safety, and assigning each a number from 1-10. To see what Naperville’s system looks like on paper, go to and click on Forms.

“We identified each of the 816 line items in our capital forecast and ranked them 1-10 based on the priority ranking system. It sorted them by priority, but what it didn’t tell us was what was inside all of the numbers, so we went to a sub prioritization system that took into account the results of our community attitude and interest survey. For example, our community puts a very high priority on walking trails, so even though something like trails might shake out as a priority 4, it’s now 4.1,” explains Brissa.

“We’ll take those priorities, beginning with one all the way down until we spend our capital money and implement those capital projects. Our board retains a 10 percent discretionary fund so they can have input into some of our non-priority projects that they might have interest in.”

Again, says Brissa, constant and consistent measurement ensures the reliable collection of data through time, which helps prioritize and move projects through efficiently, while maximizing revenue generation.

“We have key measurements in all of our revenue generating areas called Vital Signs. Depending on the functional area — whether it’s Centennial Beach or our golf courses — we measure these Vital Signs,” says Brissa.

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