Sterling Documents and Resources

Sterling Evaluation

FLATE’s Florida Sterling evaluation plan consists of 2 interdependent levels – various types of data to validate its performance with respect to its past, present and future goals and objectives and an overarching, strategically-oriented plan and process that ensure that we continue to strive for improvement in our processes and products.

This plan has three phases that are annually cyclical.


In the first phase of the Evaluation Plan we establish the foundation of FLATE and set the direction for success in which we want to take the organization.

Our Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles are the bases of our culture and decision-making. The six Guiding Principles serve as our core values in reasoning, action, and organizational decision-making. We use the Guiding Principles as a filter through which we analyze projects and initiatives to determine whether we should invest time and other resources to accomplish. The FLATE Vision and Mission are set against the background of our principles; in the Vision, we put forth our view of the FLATE organization as we expect our stakeholders to view it in the future; in Mission we identify now what we do and who we do it for.

With the directional and cultural groundwork in place, we next focus on what we are currently, and what strategies and initiatives we should implement to help us live up to our Guiding Principles, to achieve our Vision and Mission. We do this in developing the FLATE Organizational Profile and the Strategic Hierarchy.

The Organizational Profile defines the challenges we face and the key internal and external environmental influences on how we operate. The profile describes the working environment internal to our organization and that of our host institution. It also defines our external environment in terms of who are our partners, customers, and stakeholders, as well as how we work with and for them. In the Profile document we describe strategic challenges and advantages, and key success factors in our competitive marketplace. The initial Organizational Profile was developed with input and participation from stakeholders and the entire FLATE team. It is reviewed annually by the FLATE team, and modified as necessary. As developed, the Profile is shared with our industry partners as an instrument to build confidence in our organization.

The approach we use to move into a successful future is illustrated in the FLATE Strategic Hierarchy. At the highest level are overall organizational effectiveness strategies, Effectiveness of Curriculum, Outreach, and Professional Development efforts. These are further linked to program level goals, objectives, and specific short- and long-term actions which all contribute to accomplishing FLATE’s Vision and Mission. Our day-to-day activities are guided through linkage with the Strategic Hierarchy.

As we blend into the second phase of the evaluation plan, effectiveness measures are developed to align with the strategic hierarchy and subsequent goals and objectives, in order to monitor FLATE’s progress. The specific evaluation data required to validate our implementation are defined by the Strategic Hierarchy and tracked in the Effectiveness Measures Tables. This document reveals 8 measures for Sustainability Activities; 12 measures for Curriculum Activities, 5 Effectiveness Measures for Outreach and Recruitment Activities, and 6 for Professional Development. Also specified are the parameters to be measured, the source of the data, and method of collection, as well as the location of the particular data file in our network server. The data that supports the achievement of the Effectiveness Measurement activities are defined in a column of the Effectiveness Measurements Table and illustrated in the Sample Data Files above.    

The third phase is the assessment and evaluation phase. Here, after analysis of the data collected in the measurement plan and in conjunction with evaluation of the Objective Timelines, we determine whether we are on target to accomplish our strategies, goals, and objectives. Additionally, we conduct self-assessment of our management and business systems and practices, using the Florida Sterling Criteria for Organizational Performance Excellence (a Malcolm Baldrige-based model).  This model assesses performance in each of these seven categories: 1) Leadership, 2) Planning, 3) Customers and Markets, 4) Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management, 5) Workforce, 6) Process Management, and 7) Performance Results. The self-assessment identifies organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Documentation of the third phase includes FLATE’s Objectives Timelines, our Data Analysis Summary, and the Sterling self-assessment. The Objective Timelines are reviewed and revised, annually by the FLATE Leadership Team to adjust to current and changing internal and external factors. They are posted in our office complex reflecting our progress towards achieving our goals.  The Data Analysis Summary provides us with important input for our overall progress, as does the Sterling and self-assessment.

The Sterling assessment strengths and opportunities, combined with the data analysis of our effectiveness measures, and review of the Timelines, as we again move into the first phase of the evaluation plan, form the basis for any required revisions of our strategic direction and subsequent goals, objectives, actions, activities, and measures. Appropriate action plans are developed to improve FLATE’s overall performance.

There is no doubt that the evaluation items of interest to NSF are important for their determination of whether ATE projects and centers meet NSF’s needs.  However, our industry partners also want to know that FLATE operates in manner that they are comfortable with and that is consistent with industry-recognized good business management practices.  This evaluation model that FLATE has developed combines the evaluation plan elements required by NSF within the quality-driven Sterling management model familiar to Florida manufacturers.  Infusing these Sterling quality components into FLATE’s organizational operation is extremely important to FLATE.