From Setting to Succeeding: The Role of Goal Tracking in Board Governance 

Governing boards of school districts, local governments, and other organizations have a lot on their plates. They are responsible for strategic decision-making but often get pulled into responding to operational challenges, all while navigating an increasingly complex environment.

One often overlooked task that can help boards manage these competing responsibilities is goal tracking. While commonly associated with operations, tracking goals can be a critical part of board governance.

Learn why tracking goals is essential for boards and how you can use goal-tracking tools and processes to enhance your governance and strategic decision-making.

Why Your Board Should Embrace Goal Tracking 

Setting goals means charting a course for success. But setting goals is not enough; it is just as important to track progress toward your goals. In fact, the act of tracking goals could help your board achieve the results you seek.

“Setting and tracking goals is an essential part of effective board governance and has been shown to directly impact student success. In our state, boards are required to set goals related to improving student outcomes and track the time spent working toward achieving those goals,” says Robert Long, Division Director for TASB’s Board Development Services. Boards can use goal-tracking as a tool to improve collaboration, enhance governance, show effectiveness, and quantify improvements. 

Improves Collaboration and Engagement

Board governance is a group effort. Tracking goals as a team fosters collaboration and engagement within the board by cultivating a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for achieving collective goals. Tracking your board’s goals provides accountability among all members of the group.

Enhances Governance

Leaders and organizations of all types rely on data to drive decisions. Data-driven decision-making lies at the heart of goal tracking. By leveraging data and evidence, your board can make decisions based on reality rather than conjecture. This enables you to allocate resources efficiently, identify emerging trends, and anticipate future challenges. Through ongoing monitoring and evaluation, goal tracking facilitates a culture of continuous improvement.  

Demonstrates Effectiveness

Many boards are responsible to stakeholders outside of the organization. Goal-tracking allows boards to show impact and effectiveness to the broader community. It can lead to transparency in the decision-making process and build trust.  

How to Track Your Board’s Goals 

Tracking goals involves setting clear, achievable goals aligned with your mission, establishing success metrics, documenting the progress you make, and reviewing the outcomes to inform future actions.

Set Your Goals

The first step in the goal-tracking process is setting clear and actionable goals. Use the SMART goals framework as a guide. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Goals should align with the board’s strategic priorities and reflect the community’s aspirations.  

Collect and Analyze Your Data

Once the goals are set, the next step involves collecting relevant data to gauge progress and measure outcomes. Boards should gather both quantitative and qualitative data. This data may include a wide range of metrics such as budget allocations and stakeholder feedback.  

Track Your Progress

The core component of this process is regularly reviewing how your board is performing at meeting its goals. Your board can identify early warning signs and make timely adjustments to strategies through continuous monitoring. Dashboards, progress reports, or periodic evaluations may be useful depending on the type of data your board wishes to track. Add a regular agenda item to each board meeting to make goal-tracking a priority for your leadership team. 

Reflect and Make Adjustments

Reflection can be a challenging part of the process. It involves reviewing the data and being honest about areas of strength and areas that need improvement. This step is an ongoing process that enables boards to respond to changing needs and circumstances. “I’ve worked with many boards over the years and those that can reflect and honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses tend to make the most progress over time,” said David Koempel, TASB Board Development Services Senior Consultant.

Tips to Make Tracking Your Board’s Goals Easier 

Once you understand the benefits of tracking goals, you can work on ways to implement effective tracking with your board. Focus on the following key elements: 

Leadership Commitment and Stakeholder Engagement 

Buy-in from board members and organizational leaders is essential for successful goal-tracking initiatives. This includes providing the necessary resources, support, and guidance so that efforts are sustained over time. 

Organizational leaders and other staff that support the board may need training to support goal-tracking efforts. Topics may include goal setting, data analysis, or data-driven decision-making. 

Create a Culture of Goals 

Tracking goals is a long-term strategy, not a quick fix. If your board wants to achieve its goals, you need to practice setting, tracking, and reflecting on goals year after year.  

Data and Technology Infrastructure 

Boards that seek to rely on data to make decisions may need to build up a robust data infrastructure. This could include investing in new data systems and tools or leveraging existing data systems within the organization. “There are many tools available to help your team make data-driven decisions, but at the end of the day, an easy-to-use goal tracking tool like the one available in BoardBook Premier is essential,” said Hal Frazier, BoardBook Marketing Consultant. 

Tip: Use functionality within your board’s agenda management tool to align goals with agendas and track progress. BoardBook® Premier offers a goal-tracking tool that allows you to associate agenda items with board goals and create reports summarizing the board’s efforts toward its goals. 

Results for Your Board 

Tracking goals is a powerful tool for your board to enhance accountability, drive continuous improvement, and achieve meaningful outcomes. Navigate the complexities of the modern governance landscape by embracing goal tracking as a core practice for your board.  

To learn more about goal-tracking functionality in BoardBook® Premier, call 888-587-2665 or email