Category: Business Operations


Define the future and Sponsor the transition

To lead organizations through constant change, the senior management team of 2015 must define the future and sponsor the transition.  In other words, they must connect ‘hard’ business strategy with ‘soft’ factors like employee engagement and culture. I’ve seen many management teams struggle to achieve the right balance.  With this in mind, I am offering five steps for consideration. read more

Think Traceability

Wearing a “business analyst” hat, many of us often find ourselves on projects tasked with defining a set of requirements to address a given need.

I like to go into these engagements looking forward to the great adventure that will surely unfold.  There is usually an interesting cast of characters who bring valuable insight and perspective from various angles, boots-on-the-ground knowledge, experience and history, and often a passion for the topic at hand. Getting the chance to sit down with stakeholders as we embark on our adventure is truly a privilege.

But it’s seldom without challenges. read more

Collaboration: Are we actually achieving it?

Common definitions for Collaboration are:  To work with others to complete a task and to achieve shared goals; to cooperate with others with which one is not immediately connected (taken from Wikipedia).

These definitions are pretty basic.  Experience, however, has taught me that collaboration is a complex concept within most organizations.  read more

A Transformation Midterm Report

Organizations are implementing many complex changes concurrently and within short time frames. Senior leaders continually add new priorities to their organizational workloads, ensuring a perpetual state of transition. We continue to expect staff to deliver quality services and products to internal and external clients. It’s official, we have entered a state of being over-committed.

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Priority Agenda Items for Senior Leadership Committees

Through working within the public sector transformation over the past four years, I have witnessed the state of perpetual transition playing out across government departments and agencies with startling consistency. It’s no surprise that within the current climate, staff is struggling with the concept of a clear vision of the future.  When everything is in transition, and there appears to be no end in sight – this is a very common challenge.  read more

Five 2014 Public Sector Predictions: Looking Back to Look Forward

As health-based resolutions ramp up across Canada to counter last month’s holiday socializing, the Canadian government jumps into 2014 with a slate of promising initiatives designed to trim the fat, so to speak, from the public purse. A review of how some of those initiatives initially fared in 2013 says a lot about what could or could not work in the government’s favour in the coming year. read more

Best Practices: Rationale or Rhetoric?

As consultants we get asked to develop a content strategy, governance model or performance management framework based on “best practices”. In response we cite research studies, analytics and trends or methodologies in user experience design or web strategy that have become commonplace in the field and have yielded results for our clients.

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Content Strategies to Prevent Future Government ROT

The push to remove Redundant, Outdated and Trivial (ROT) content on government websites has allowed departments and agencies to reconsider what content is needed by different audiences, and how those audiences want that content delivered. We’ve observed productive discussions across the National Capital Region over the past year on the purpose of the web channel and how it can both help users do the tasks they come to website to do and departments promote their new initiatives and programs.

ROT exercises however are often framed as a project and not a way of doing business. This creates the risk of falling back into an old pattern, which is publishing content that is of little value to users and/or doesn’t successfully increase awareness or engagement with government priorities. We’ve seen one department undergo a comprehensive content “pruning” two years ago, only to have their content holdings balloon by 246%, a mere 24 months later.

A major contributor to the persistence of ROT is the lack of anything that helps us determine what should and shouldn’t be published. This is a content strategy. Content strategies define:

  • What goes on the web and why
  • Which content aligns with which tasks
  • How web content should be presented and structured
  • How to balance user needs with organizational priorities
  • Who makes decisions on the web
  • How content will be optimized for findability and promotion
  • How web performance is measured

An effective content strategy requires involvement by a multi-disciplinary team comprised of communications and information management specialists, senior and program management and IT. In a Government of Canada context, the strategy should align with these success-centric drivers:

  • Program Alignment Architectures (PAA)
  • Strategic business plans
  • Enterprise business architectures
  • Content standards
  • User research (identifying tasks and demographic data)
  • Communications plans for web campaigns

This admittedly is not a small effort, but it is one that can be incrementally developed as time and resources allow. A work plan that incorporates one or two elements can be managed on a quarterly basis. Using this phased approach, the elements that support smart decision making for the online presence can build over time and improve outcomes that are valued by the organization.

April 2013: Why does this matter now?

We know the Government of Canada is consolidating into a single government website but we don’t know much more than that at this time. This leaves departments wondering if they should do anything at all. A content strategy approach is one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for the future in the absence of knowing exactly how things will play out. On the one hand, if there are delays to the consolidation exercise, you have put some foundational pieces in place to improve the user experience for your audiences. On the other hand, if things move quickly, you have a precise understanding of what you and yours users need out of the web.

Denise Eisner is a Senior Consultant in the Government Service Excellence practice.