City of Maplewood, MN

Photo of Maplewood's wetlands


Maplewood, MN

Ramsey County

40,000 residents

City Manager's Office

Envisio performance analytics makes Maplewood’s city strategic plan sticky

In the heart of Minnesota, the City of Maplewood is home to a diverse community of 40,000 people. It is also the corporate headquarters for conglomerate 3M Corporation, maker of Post-It Notes™ and employer to 10,000 of the city’s residents.

While Maplewood is the proud home of the sticky note manufacturer, the city’s performance management system is making their strategic goals even stickier. Today, the City of Maplewood relies on Envisio to help them manage their strategic plan, track performance, and build trust with City Council and residents.

As Maplewood grows, the City’s Management Team is deeply committed to maintaining public transparency and accountability. With seasoned leaders propelling the city’s strategic plan to new heights, they now have the performance analytics and public dashboards to prove it.

Goals hiding in spreadsheets

Maplewood began developing their strategic plan in 2015 as a collaboration between the City Manager’s Office and the City Council. Early attempts by the city had identified some goals to work towards, but these were being housed in disorganized spreadsheets. 

“The spreadsheet was at least 20 pages long,” says Lois Knutson, Administrative Services and Performance Measurement Coordinator at the City Manager’s Office, “And it was poorly organized. If we had identified some strategic priorities, they were very loose. We knew we needed to  really tighten it up and make it specific and focused.”

A day-long retreat between the City Manager’s Office and the City Council revealed that while Maplewood knew what they wanted to work towards, there would be many steps between where they were starting and where they wanted to end up. Their current system of messy spreadsheets did not allow for easy reporting, analytics, or visual representations of progress. 

Added to that, the strategic plan had not been shared beyond the city’s leaders.

“We realized that many of our staff did not even know we had a strategic plan, let alone how to participate in it,” says Lois.

There had to be a better way. 

“Moving forward, we wanted to make sure we got buy-in for our plan throughout all levels of the organization,” continues Lois,  “And we also knew that we wanted to get beyond annual reporting, as we weren’t able to really gauge if we were on target when we looked at the data just once a year. After 2016, we knew that we were not putting our best foot forward on the strategic plan. That’s when we first started working with Envisio.”

The City of Maplewood adopted Envisio to keep their strategic plan on track and to help them collect, analyze and visualize city data to better inform decisions. The city management team also planned to roll out an Envisio public dashboard to showcase their progress to residents.

All stakeholders engaged in planning

In their next round of strategic planning, the City of Maplewood went beyond just consulting with the City Council to include all stakeholders, starting with residents.

“We did a community-wide survey to help us really get an understanding of the community,” says Lois, “and we used that feedback to support extensive planning meetings with 6 department heads, 40 supervisors and many of the city’s 170 full-time employees For example, we had parks and maintenance staff sitting at the table with us creating action steps that fed into our performance measures and, ultimately, our key outcomes.”

Constant consultation with internal stakeholders at every level of the organization would become key to the continued success of Maplewood’s  strategic plan.

 “We tend to address our strategic priorities about once a year with the council, and from there the department heads figure out the key operating measures. After that, we like to bring in frontline staff and say okay, this is what we’re trying to measure. How do we do it? What should the action items be? Now, we recognize that Council and department heads are great at seeing the big picture, but you really do need input from multiple levels to gain insight on the best way to contribute to the strategic plan on a day-to-day basis.”

This community and employee feedback, in conjunction with the strategic planning of council and the City Manager’s office, helped to identify a list of key outcome indicators, supporting performance measures, and a staff action plan—all aligned to help achieve the six City Council priorities: (1) community inclusiveness, (2) integrated communication, (3) financial sustainability, (4) operational effectiveness, (5) infrastructure and asset management, and (6) targeted redevelopment.

Envisio makes the city’s strategic plan sticky

Learning from past challenges, Lois and the City of Maplewood  knew that the strategic plan couldn’t hide in spreadsheets. The team quickly realized that their efforts to track and manage the plan would have to expand to include staff and stakeholders at every level of the organization. 

By moving their strategy execution and performance management to Envisio, Maplewood made it easy for employees to stick with their reporting and to see how their action items were contributing to a centralized strategic goal. 

“We have around 25 users now,” says Lois. “It’s nice that there are so many different people involved – both to lighten the workload and also to ensure that more people are familiar with our strategic plan.”

Having engaged employees has also made it easier to align day-to-day work with strategy, says Lois.

“Getting these people at all levels involved means they know what’s going on, they know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and it just makes everything easier.” 

Today, employees at all levels track their progress on actions and initiatives in personal, color-coded dashboards. Blue means ‘completed,’ green ‘in progress,’ yellow ‘some disruption,’ and so on. They receive email reminders to help them stay on track and ensure they make regular performance updates.