Category: Business Operations


GTEC 2011

Systemscope returned to GTEC again this year on October 18, 2011. Three informative and compelling workshops were presented by our consultants paired with innovative public servants.

PRESENTATIONS NOW AVAILABLE! (see individual session descriptions below)

(Version française)



Workshop #1 View the presentation!

Finding Savings: Back to Basics
Gail Eagen, DG of IT Operations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Kellen Greenberg, Director Integrated Process Management, Systemscope
Kathy Roy, Senior Consultant, Systemscope

 

Departments have a renewed focus on identifying cost-savings and efficiency gains through new GC deficit reduction initiatives. And contrary to popular belief, finding savings does not have to be as painful as you may think.[spoiler title=”Read More”] It even presents an exciting opportunity to transform the way we do business and serve Canadians better. It is an opportunity, however, that requires a proven and structured response.

Systemscope has been working with our clients to develop just that. We have brought together a framework that includes a series of management decision-making tools to facilitate the cost reduction process. Our approach can better structure your initiative for greater success.

This session presented our innovative approach to delivering tangible and sustainable cost-savings as part of an operational review process and as a regular means of managing your daily work.  Gail Eagen , DG of IT Operations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kellen Greenberg, Director Integrated Process Management, and Kathy Roy, Senior Consultant, shared real life experiences and ‘tools’ that have been adopted by public, private and crown corporation clients.

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Workshop #2 View the presentation!

Top-Down Implementation in a Bottoms-Up World
Stephen Karam, Partner and Practice Lead, Government Service Excellence, Systemscope
Jennifer Conlin, Assistant Director, Service Transformation, Service Analysis and Transformation Divison, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Dan Batista, Director, Service Innovation, Industry Canada

Remember the days in Government when it took 2-3 years for IT-enabled business solutions to see the light of day, only to result in almost immediate erosion and obsolescence?  Using the traditional waterfall approach of ensuring that business requirements are fully captured before functional design and solution architecture can take place usually leads to timelines that are no longer acceptable in the new government culture of strategic & operational review and fiscal restraint.[spoiler title=”Read More”] The cries of “We need to see savings now!” paradoxically coupled with “We can’t degrade client service!” can be heard echoing through many a hall in GC departments and agencies.  These new priorities are creating a demand for shorter cycles to achieving outcomes and measurable results.

Systemscope has recognized this change in landscape and has been working with government departments such as HRSDC, Industry Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to develop online transformational business solutions including a grants & contributions (Gs&Cs) environment, BizPaL 2.0 and AgPal using a top-down design approach.  This methodology takes a page from the agile development approach by simply allowing for design, user experience, and content modeling iterations to be performed with eventual users and administrators of the system, prior to any functional design and architecture work taking place.  By building a prototyping sandbox using real data and processes, this allows departments to “kick the tires” on the requirements prior to setting them in stone, ensuring that whatever requirements are output have actually be tested with users, contributing to success and demand of the solution.  Furthermore, it’s a surefire way to get executives excited about a transformation initiative when they can actually see it in action!

Stephen Karam (Systemscope Partner and Practice Lead, Government Service Excellence), Jennifer Conlin, Assistant Director, Service Transformation, Service Analysis and Transformation Divison, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Dan Batista, Director, Service Innovation, Industry Canada facilitated a healthy discussion of the myriad benefits of this approach, remaining challenges and a review of info systems currently under development using this approach.

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Workshop #3 View the presentation!

eBay-style Architectures for Government Information
Linda Daniels-Lewis,  Senior Consultant, Enterprise Information Management, Systemscope

New information architectures are less about “filing” information and more about “using” information and performing actions on information. We have been working with our clients to develop optimized information architectures for team collaboration, for information use and sharing, and for the retention and disposition of records that are more integrated with their business process and that provide search and navigation experiences more like those on popular Internet sites. [spoiler title=”Read More”]

We have focused on removing the responsibility of users to declare records and on removing the constraints of folders, requiring people to know how to navigate deep hierarchies and agree on whether to file their documents by, for example, subject or date under the various sub-activity folders. Using document properties as content filters, the experience of using enterprise knowledge stores can now feel more like using e-commerce sites and information portals with dynamic, guided navigation techniques.

This session presented the results of some of our architecture implementation concepts using SharePoint 2010 information constructs to produce agile, flexible information architectures to support business activities. Linda Daniels-Lewis, Systemscope Senior Consultant, explained how we have used the following SharePoint 2010 features to improve collaboration, separate transitory information from information of business value, automatically identify and declare key records, and separate active and inactive records for retention and disposition purposes:

– site templates
– libraries
– content types
– managed metadata
– workflows
– with minimum use folders

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GTEC 2011

Systemscope a retourné au GTEC le 18 octobre 2011 avec trois convaincantes présentations riches en renseignements.

Les présentations sont maintenant disponible! (en anglais seulement)


Atelier no 1

Dénicher des économies : un retour aux sources
Gail Eagen, DG d’Opérations TI, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada
Kellen Greenberg, directeur de la gestion de procédés intégrés, Systemscope
Kathy Roy, conseillère principale, Systemscope

Les ministères orientent à nouveau leurs efforts sur l’identification d’économies de coûts et de gains d’efficacité dans le cadre d’initiatives de réduction du défit au GC. Et contrairement à ce qu’on pourrait s’imaginer, il n’est pas toujours pénible de dénicher des économies de coûts.[spoiler title=”Pour en savoir plus”]

En effet, il peut s’agir d’une occasion excitante de transformer la manière dont nous faisons affaire et de mieux servir les Canadiens et les Canadiennes. Une opportunité qui toutefois nécessite une approche systématique éprouvée.

Justement, Systemscope a collaboré avec ses clients pour élaborer cette approche. Nous avons développé un cadre conceptuel qui comprend une série d’outils décisionnels pour les gestionnaires qui facilite le processus de réduction de coûts. Notre approche offre une structure qui saura orienter votre initiative vers le succès.

Cette session a présenté notre approche novatrice pour produire des réductions de coûts viables et tangibles dans le cadre d’un processus d’examen opérationnel ainsi que la gestion opérationnelle quotidienne. Gail Eagen, DG d’Opérations TI, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada, Kellen Greenberg, directeur de la gestion de procédés intégrés, et Kathy Roy, conseillère principale de chez Systemscope ont partagé des cas vécus  et des « outils » adoptés par des clients du domaine public et privé et des sociétés d’État.

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Atelier no 2

Une mise en œuvre descendante dans un monde en ascension
Stephen Karam, directeur de l’excellence du service gouvernemental, Systemscope
Jennifer Conline, Directrice adjoint, Division des Analyses et transformation des services, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada
Dan Batista, Directeur, Innovation dans les services, Industrie Canada

Vous vous rappelez des jours où au gouvernement, une période de 2 à 3 ans était nécessaire pour créer des solutions d’affaires de TI qui devenaient presque immédiatement érodées et dépassées ? L’utilisation de la traditionnelle approche en cascade voulant que toutes les exigences organisationnelles soient identifiées avant de procéder à un design fonctionnel et une solution d’architecture mène à des délais qui ne sont plus acceptables au sein de la nouvelle culture d’examen stratégique et opérationnel et de réductions budgétaires du gouvernement.[spoiler title=”Pour en savoir plus”] Les exigences d’ «  économies immédiates! » paradoxalement juxtaposées à celles de « niveaux de la clientèle qui n’en souffriront pas ! » font écho dans plusieurs bureaux des ministères et agences du GC. Ces nouvelles priorités exigent un cycle plus court qui mène aux objectifs voulus et à des résultats mesurables.

Systemscope a identifié cette évolution et a collaboré avec certains ministères dont RHDCC, Industrie Canada et  Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada pour développer des  solutions d’affaires transformationnelles en ligne dont un environnement de subventions et contributions (S et C), PerLE 2.0 et AgPal à l’aide d’une approche de conception descendante. Cette méthodologie est à l’image de l’approche de développement agile qui permet d’effectuer simplement des itérations de design, d’expérience utilisateur et de modélisation du contenu par les utilisateurs et administrateurs éventuels du système, avant d’effectuer tout travail de design et d’architecture fonctionnels. En bâtissant un prototype à l’aide de vraies données et de processus, les ministères peuvent donc le mettre à l’essai et déterminer leurs exigences avant de prendre une décision finale, ce qui assure que toute exigence est en fait un résultat testé par les usagers et qui contribuera au succès et à la demande de la solution. De plus, il est beaucoup plus facile de fidéliser les gestionnaires cadres à votre initiative de transformation si vous pouvez leur montrer votre produit en action.

Stephen Karam (Systemscope directeur de l’excellence du service gouvernemental), Jennifer Conlin, Directrice adjoint, Division des Analyses et transformation des services, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada et Dan Batista, Directeur, Innovation dans les services, Industrie Canada ont facilité une discussion animée des avantages indéniables de cette approche, des défis qui demeurent et un examen des systèmes d’information qu’on développe présentement à l’aide de cette approche.

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Atelier no 3

Des architectures d’information gouvernementale à la eBay
Linda Daniels-Lewis, conseillère en chef, Systemscope

Les nouvelles architectures de l’information sont moins axées sur la « classification » de l’information et s’orientent plutôt sur leur « utilisation » et les actions à effectuer. Nous collaborons avec nos clients afin de développer des architectures de l’information qui optimisent le travail d’équipe, l’utilisation et le partage des renseignements et la rétention et le déclassement de documents afin de mieux s’intégrer à leurs processus d’affaires et fournir des expériences de recherche et de navigation plus semblables à celles que l’on retrouve sur les sites Internet populaires. [spoiler title=”Pour en savoir plus”]

Pour ce faire, les utilisateurs n’ont plus la responsabilité de déclarer les fichiers et nous avons supprimé les contraintes qu’imposent les répertoires qui exigeaient que les gens sachent comment naviguer des hiérarchies complexes et s’accorder sur la méthode de classification de leurs documents comme, par exemple : par sujet, par date ou dans divers répertoires de sous-activités. En utilisant les propriétés d’un document comme filtres du contenu, l’expérience d’utilisation des magasins de connaissances de l’entreprise se compare maintenant à l’utilisation de sites de cybercommerce et de portails d’information dotés de techniques de navigation dynamiques et dirigées.

Cette session a présenté les résultats de la mise en œuvre de nos concepts d’architecture d’information à l’aide de SharePoint 2010 afin de produire des architectures d’information agiles et polyvalentes au service des activités de l’entreprise. Linda Daniels-Lewis, Systemscope conseillère en chef, a expliqué la manière dont nous avons utilisé les caractéristiques SharePoint suivantes pour améliorer la collaboration, séparer l’information transitoire de l’information de valeur à l’entreprise, identifier et déclarer automatiquement les fichiers clés et séparer les fichiers actifs et inactifs à des fins de rétention ou de disposition :

– modèles de sites
– librairies
– types de contenu
– gestion de métadonnées
– flux des travaux
– utilisation minimale de répertoires

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Cost Savings: Mission Impossible or Golden Opportunity

The recent announcement that the government will be requiring major programs to deliver between 5-10% cost savings from their operating expenses has created quite a stir.  In fact, media reports are full of individuals and groups expressing their outrage at the expectations outlined in the Strategic and Operating Review (SOR).

I cannot say that I agree with the outrage.  I have seen far greater cost savings delivered and the result was not the dire situation that some would like us to believe. I believe that cost savings, efficiency gains, and productivity improvements are all possible in any organization based on the belief that all performance can be improved if one desires to do so.

And therein lies the critical choice. Leaders may either choose to view the SOR as a mission impossible or a golden opportunity.  The choice that they make will inevitably determine their level of success.

In May 2008 the Hay Group stated that: “Leaders that create the right environment in their teams enable their employees to give up to 30 per cent more effort. The reason is simple: employees who are engaged by the right kind of leadership, who have clear goals and feel recognized for their effort give more ‘discretionary’ effort (beyond that which their job demands) – and this effort flows through to the bottom line.”

And again three years later the Hay Group states that: “A positive climate can improve an organization’s bottom line by up to 30 per cent, and reduce absence rates and staff turnover. And up to 70 per cent of a team’s climate is determined by its leader.” 

And leaders achieve their position within an organization through their attitudes and daily actions. They are positive role models who inspire their team to do their best work. They show commitment and make themselves available to their team. They are present throughout the good times, but are even more present in the difficult times.

And they understand that improving efficiencies implies that base level efficiencies are known and measured. So they put in place systems to integrate and review work performances on a transparent and consistent basis, not just when required to do so by the SOR.

Remember, according to the Hay Group: Employees who have clear goals and feel recognized for their effort give more ‘discretionary’ effort … so the answer lies in some basic management principles. In short, organizations need to improve their integrated operational planning and performance results reviewing, and better align their vertical and horizontal communications.  It’s a matter of better understanding the work that their people are doing, and driving out the non-value associated with it. More value-added work will get done and all Canadians will be the beneficiaries of streamlined service delivery.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first step is for Senior Representatives to commit to leading the transformation process.  I hope that they recognize this challenge as a golden opportunity to improve upon some basics. And by doing so, they can set a more positive tone in the workplace. And this will not only deliver the required levels of cost savings, but also improve staff morale, which, after all, is a far greater threat to achieving and sustaining any results.

No One Wants to Follow a Government Department

by Denise Eisner

There’s an interesting yet bewildering range of efforts by federal government to be in the social media sphere. There’s the call to action: “Stay Connected”, “Stay Informed”, or “Get Connected”. There’s the obvious: labelling the area above the commercial icons as “Social Media”. And then there’s “Follow Us.”

Aside from maybe one or two notable exceptions, there’s scant evidence that users want to follow an entire department. Government departments are not task-related. They are large organizations with multiple services that may or may not translate into discrete tasks performed by users with different needs.

What users would follow however (and already are in some cases), are themed updates that correlate with tasks in their personal or professional life:

  • Alerts and recalls
  • Border crossing times
  • Harmful chemical substances in consumer products
  • Air quality readings in my geographic area
  • Vaccination clinic locations and hours of operation
  • Upcoming deadlines for public consultations
  • Tips and deadlines related to business tax filing
  • Deadlines for grants and contributions
  • Updates during natural disasters

Notice that these are highly specialized pieces of information. That’s intrinsic to what social media was meant to do: provide a communal place to share information related to a topic or event that a group of people care about.

Here are several ways to break out of the “Follow me” cycle and turn that into “Let me help you”:

  • Identify key tasks. Your web and/or marketing teams might already have the research on this one.
  • Prioritize which tasks are performed most often by audience groups. There are likely some overlaps between what different groups need with respect to timely information.
  • Brainstorm ways you can deliver value-add information via your Twitter feed or Facebook page that would correlate to users’ top tasks.
  • Determine how to measure Followers and Likes to track performance.
  • Develop a linking strategy from your updates to departmental or specialized site content and track that performance as well.

Denise Eisner is a senior consultant within the Government Service Excellence practice.

Closing the Intranet Hellmouth

by Denise Eisner

Dark, scary portals to hell typified by the Buffyverse’s Hellmouth, or “an area fraught with massive supernatural activity” require slayer-level strength to manage effectively (it also helps to know some nifty martial arts moves). So too, do some organization intranets. The byzantine navigation, mysterious rogue sites on separate servers, and complex pages overrun with management objectives, frameworks and strategies on some Intranets make one want to click away as soon as possible. Or, for some web managers, metaphorically stake the demon.

Short of enlisting superhuman forces, there are five things organizations can do to tame their Intranet Hellmouth:

  1. Focus on employee services – There are two fundamental things people care about when it comes to their relationship with an employer: money and vacation. Manage the top user tasks related to those two areas and your web team will score big on client satisfaction. Is it easy to find the leave request form or is it eight clicks from the home page? Catalogue the top user tasks and let those guide the navigation structure.
  2. Ask real users what they think, not stakeholders – Not everyone in the organization uses the site: some people only use one or two apps or have someone else do it for them. It’s challenging to be all things to all people. Listen to the folks who are your true users. Watch them use the site for insight into behaviours.
  3. Clean out the ROT – Make sure the site isn’t cluttered with redundant, outdated or trivial content. That’s a sure way to waste users’ time. Conduct a content audit and perform mini-audits each quarter.
  4. Be a word count freak – Marissa Mayer at Google recounts how they strive to keep the word count on their home page at 28. That kind of ruthless editing takes leadership and an insane amount of negotiating. But the results at Google speak for themselves.
  5. Stay human – Intranets should not be soulless, corporate bulletin boards. Keep the community vibe going with contests, blogs, surveys and profiles of what employees are doing in and outside of work. That said, manage this activity with communication and information architecture specialists who can apply usability, content and design best practices for professional polish.

Are you sitting on an Intranet Hellmouth? Tell us your story.

Denise Eisner is a senior consultant within the Government Service Excellence practice.

GOC: Why You Need a Community Manager

by Denise Eisner

Every week it seems I hear of another government department that is drafting its social media strategy to “communicate with external and internal audiences.” Once implemented, a member of the Communications team is tasked with overseeing the social media channel, which typically involves getting approvals for messages to be posted in both official languages. The icons are put on the departmental home page, and management is content that they are in the game.

But not so fast. It isn’t a social media strategy that’s needed as much as an engagement strategy, and to engage, departments need specialists who perform that strategic role. That’s the view shared by Kelly Rusk, a consultant with Thornley Fallis here in Ottawa. With a background in PR/communications and stints as a community manager, Kelly has experienced what it takes to put the social into social media. We asked her to share her thoughts on why government needs community managers to oversee their social media efforts.

How did you start?

My first job was at a small e-marketing firm, where I carved out my own role in PR/communications which looked eerily like the role of today’s community manager. I started up and managed our company blog, managed our newsletter, updated the web site, hosted events for our customers and wrote for industry publications. Later I was head hunted by a Montreal-based start-up and hired as community manager where I managed the company newsletter, blog, Twitter account, and was responsible for finding and retaining members in our online community. I also did media relations and travelled to industry trade shows and conferences to help get our name out and meet our online followers/fans/community members in person.

There are social media managers and community managers. Which role best fits government departments and agencies and why?

Different people define roles differently, but in my eyes the community manager is a strategic role that revolves around building a community of interest, whether that is in a separate online community, through various social media and marketing channels or whatever makes sense for the audience. Building a community also means getting members to speak and interact directly with each other so engagement tactics play a huge role as well. A social media manager is usually a marketing position for someone whose main responsibility is updating social properties and creating content specifically for those properties/channels.

That definition in mind, I think community manager makes more sense for government department and agencies because it’s a goal-focused rather than tool-focused. Government needs to be adaptable and accountable when it comes to online strategies and I see the community manager as a more adaptable position. The trend is spreading where social media functions across an organization, rather than putting it in a separate silo, which is what a social media manager position might be perceived as. I like and believe in this approach and feel a good community manager is poised to lead this type of change internally both in private organizations and government departments.

Given the role you identified, what are the key activities that must be managed?

A community manager starts with a plan that feeds a business goal (i.e. increase membership, revenue, awareness etc.,) and defines target audiences (customers, partners, employees, stakeholders, etc.). Then she/he must determine the appropriate ways to reach and engage those people. In my experience this can include a mix of the following: a newsletter and/or email list, an online community site, a blog, social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), webinars and in-person events (meet-ups, conferences, tradeshows, seminars). Often these activities feed into each other. For example, you can collect email addresses – with permission of course – at events to add to newsletter or place social follow buttons on the blog.

To be in that role, what skill sets are needed?

Excellent communication skills are essential. Often times a community manager is the “face and voice” of the organization, so s/he needs to be able to express him/herself professionally and in a way the organization is comfortable with at all times. A community manager needs to be forward thinking and always looking out for new industry trends as things can change quickly online. This person also needs to understand how to measure his/her activity, use web analytics and probably Excel.

If you were hired by a government department to lead the organization’s social media efforts, what would be the first three things you would try to accomplish and why?

I would conduct a social media audit by looking at what’s happening inside and outside the organization with relation to social media, what tools are available, training etc. Then I would focus on developing internal guidelines and policy. Ideally a community manager is most effective when he/she has buy in and support from the entire organization. The guidelines and policy help make other employees comfortable with potentially using social media at work, as well as to help management understand and buy in to employee usage. And lastly, I would build a strategy – this would outline what I would be doing, how it will be executed, and how it will be measured. It would feed into or be part of a larger communications strategy.

Kelly Rusk is a consultant at Thornley Fallis. Follow Kelly at @krusk.

Denise Eisner is a senior consultant focusing on information architecture, performance measurement and web strategy. Follow Denise at @2denise.

Dashboards with a Difference

by Kathy Roy

I could write about Dashboards from many different perspectives: I could talk about the importance of credible data and its merits for decision-makers or I could talk about their highly visual and easy to understand look with funky gauges and brightly coloured circles. But if I did that, I wouldn’t be talking about what will really help your organization measure for success.

You see, many Dashboards fall short of expectations, and the reason for this is simple: Not all information is created equally.

Too many Dashboard development processes spend more time on the look and feel of the Dashboard than they do on ensuring they are collecting the right performance measures. In the age of data overload, it’s not the colour of your gauge that will let you hone in on the right performance measures. So how do we differentiate which are the right performance measures?

There are three key characteristics that you can benchmark against when deciding which measures to use:

  1. They must be aligned with the organization’s current direction and pressing priorities. Senior management must identify the performance measures they need to be successful then support their organization to go out and measure them.
  2. They must be understood and controllable at some level in the organization. If an organization has a poor performance in one area, senior management should be able to ask the tough questions, receive answers, assign fixes, and see the performance improve on future reports.
  3. They must set an expectation for people to strive to achieve. Senior management must align their performance measures with their planning processes in order to set targets for attainment in their work performance.

Dashboards that include the right performance measures find themselves in the privileged position of being able to achieve improved performance results. The shape and form that the dashboard takes is about usability; the data and measures underpinning the dashboard are about performance improvement. And isn’t that what all organizations are seeking when they implement a Dashboard?

Clean out the ROT in your Web Closet

There’s something eerily satisfying about cleaning out a closet, or at least it is to chaosphobes likes myself who can’t function in a messy space. With less stuff to search through and now organized in neat categories, that closet is a place where I know I’ll find what I need and whether there’s a gap that has to be filled.

There’s a strong parallel to looking for content on a large Web site. Too much badly organized and irrelevant content makes finding the good stuff harder and more frustrating. But cleaning out the ROT (Redundant, Outdated or Trivial content), is not exactly a priority for most government departments. Putting up content, particularly reports and news releases, seems to dominate the priorities for most Web teams. And so the ROT builds up, until someone says a major overhaul is needed.

A major overhaul is like moving to a new house: expensive, stressful and time-consuming. A regular content audit however, is like cleaning out a closet every so often: cheaper, manageable and faster. For a site or subsite of less than 5,000 pages, it can be done in approximately two months, barring any other major drains on the team’s time. The steps are straight forward:

  • Designate a project manager to oversee the content audit and track progress.
  • Capture all the existing content information in a spreadsheet.
  • Determine what you want to know about your content: accuracy, findability in search engines, usefulness to audiences, etc. and share that methodology with the project team.
  • Engage content owners to identify their content and determine its accuracy, and web specialists to rate the content’s findability and usefulness.
  • Collate the findings to see what content can be archived, refurbished or kept as is.
  • Report recommendations to senior management for action.

If nothing has been done to the website in three years, a good content audit should identify at least 50% ROT. One of our clients just completed an audit with 67% ROT. They now can focus on improving the remaining content, and thus make their site more useful to the people that visit it.

With departments starting the planning process for the next fiscal year, now is the time to determine which older sections of the Web site (or the entire site) need a review, identify available project resources and build timelines for a content audit.