Category: Change Management


Our New Space: Designed for Collaboration to Help Our Clients Transform

Mash-ups. The world seems to love them. Everything from Web content to songs and videos are being mashed to create new energy, ideas and outcomes. Why not clichés? If we take the ideals of “Location, location, location” and “Timing is everything” and mash them up, they pretty much form a foundational piece of Systemscope’s announcement that we have moved into a new, larger office space in Ottawa’s Byward Market.

Systemscope is one of Ottawa’s leading strategic consulting firms, specializing in business and service transformation. “Transformation doesn’t happen in a box, or simply through a tool … it requires a collective conscience around a business challenge, where collaboration can produce a clear path forward,” argues Systemscope Partner and Government Service Excellence Practice Lead, Stephen Karam.

With this in mind, “Location, location, location” embodies not only the physical address of the new Systemscope offices, but the layout as well. Systemscope chose the former Shopify offices as its new home primarily because the footprint of the office space makes it ideal to foster collaboration, creativity, and innovation, which are essential in the transformation process for the company’s clients.

The new offices are anything but typical. The new Systemscope environment boasts a variety of creative office spaces including:

  • communal offices for the company’s three Practice Areas (Government Service Excellence, Enterprise Information Architecture, and Strategic Business Consulting)
  • an expansive boardroom for hosting clients in more formal, facilitated workshop settings and for firm-wide strategic planning;
  • the “Systemscope lab” – a glass enclosed central room where multiple practice teams can work together to cross-fertilize ideas among different project and practice areas, and formally develop architectures, models, methodologies and more; and
  • finally, and perhaps most significant to our quest for optimized collaboration, there will be the “Systemscope Lounge” where employees and clients can meet in a central and casual environment to stimulate the creative and out-of-the-box thinking for which Systemscope is known.

This collaborative approach is the key to Systemscope’s successful service offerings, and is entirely reflected in the design choices for the new space. A significant portion of the new office is dedicated to casual common spaces including the lounge, a kitchen, a library, a shower facility (for those who wish to bike or run to work), and even a yoga ball. Even the senior partners of the firm, Denis Barbeau and Stephen Karam, insist on maintaining a shared office in order not to lose touch with the ethos of the firm.

In a further attempt to enable the nature of Systemscope’s collaborative practices, Systemscope will introduce the practice of having monitors showcasing the range of Systemscope’s work and client successes to date. “We are so busy and so focused on current projects that it is easy to lose sight of the excellent work we have already completed. This showcase is a constant reminder for us, and our clients, of the successes of the past and the full range of Systemscope capabilities.” says Kellen Greenberg, Director of Strategic Business Consulting.

“Collaboration doesn’t happen in isolation, and it must respect the systems of human and organizational behaviour” maintains Denis Barbeau, Partner and Practice Lead for Strategic Business Consulting. “Systemscope has picked a time in government where collaboration is needed more than ever and our new location is built just for this purpose.”

Our New Space!

 Learn More:

Systemscope Claims Old Shopify Digs – Ottawa Business Journal profile
Our New Space: Designed For Collaboration to Help Our Clients Transform by Denis Barbeau, Systemscope Partner
Introducing the Systemscope Lounge – Our Creative Commons by Denise Eisner, Senior Consultant

Change Management within the Public Sector: The Path Forward

by Kathy Roy

After working for many years in change management within the private sector, I thought it would be a relatively easy transition to work with public sector organizations.  After all, the Government of Canada is definitely embracing change, so my particular experience and skills must be required, right?   Well the answer has been both yes and no, it all depends on the day of the week that you ask me!

I have found many differences, but one of the foundational differences lies in the manner that programs define their outcomes for success.  In my experience with the private sector, it was typically linked to efficiency and financial gains. In my experience to-date with the public sector, it appears to be more heavily linked to oversight and elimination of risk.  Yet efficiency is consistently being used to describe the Government of Canada’s future direction.

Let’s talk about the gap. I believe a major difference lies in functional complexity. Within the public sector, complex org structures and layers of oversight have created tangled webs of processes, roles and mandates that are not known, documented nor understood across different functional groups.  In an attempt to improve the situation, public sector organizations appear to be continually seeking the next new initiative to further explain the complexity.

The challenge with that forward thinking approach is that organizations rarely look back and clean up the debris left over from previous initiatives. As a result, many public sector employees have shared with us their confusion and frustration over oft-times conflicting principles, mandates and direction.

But let’s focus on a path forward. We have an opportunity to embrace change, and the future looks bright. Many dedicated public sector employees have both vision and hope for the future. They are simply looking for a clear path forward. And perhaps this time they are looking for a different path forward.

The first step is to clean up the debris.  This is where the path to efficiency is the same whether we are talking the private or public sector.  It involves the definition of strategic work in terms of outcomes and objectives, and the definition of daily work in terms of required inputs and outputs.

But how does an organization identify its state of readiness? How do they even know where to start?

They start by determining their organizational readiness.  They must take a hard look at their current state, and define the business they are in, in order to redefine their functional work around outcomes.  It also requires the elimination of functional work that is no longer contributing to outcomes.

They also must assess their management readiness. They need to take a hard look at the attitudes and behaviours exhibited by management. They must have a clear vision of the future, and set objectives that will deliver upon that vision.  They must also work collaboratively and cooperatively in order to make the tough decisions required to succeed through change.

One great thing about facing change is that millions of organizations have already embraced change, to differing degrees of success.  Readiness can be determined and assessed.  Starting points can be defined and applied. The research is steep, and the lessons are repeatable.

In all cases, an effective step by step approach can be adopted and implemented.  But one thing is certain: The success of the implementation will be dependent on the extent to which an organization knows itself, and has cleaned up its current state.  And there are no new initiatives out there that can replace this fundamental requirement.

Efficiency Gains in the Public Sector – What is behind all this talk anyway?

So your workplace has been asked to identify savings through efficiency gains. I believe that if I were to ask ten different people for their interpretation, I would probably get ten different responses. So let’s start back at the beginning with a general definition.

What is efficiency?: Efficiency describes the extent to which time or effort is well used for the intended task or purpose.  Source: Wikipedia

So if we accept this description, it’s safe to assume that in order to improve efficiency, one must make even better use of their time or effort for the intended task or purpose.

But does the public sector in general terms measure time and effort (i.e. work hours)?  And if they do, do they measure it against intended tasks?  Not that I’ve seen.

So let’s look at a private sector approach.  When faced with improving efficiencies, organizations primarily focus on waste. In order to make better use of time, they eliminate the recurring problems that cause ‘lost’ time. Once removed, more time can be well spent on the intended task or purpose.

Conservatively speaking, it is estimated that approximately 20% of all work time is ‘lost’ for a variety of reasons.  Imagine the amount of time you (and your team) spend waiting for call backs, looking for information, waiting for approvals, seeking clarification, clarifying expectations, and reworking deliverables.  We all know that not every hour is created equal.

But again, does the public sector in general terms measure their time ‘lost’ due to issues or problems?  And if they do, do they measure it against intended tasks?  Again, I think not.

I recognize that these answers may not be very exciting, or sophisticated in their approach. But what is wrong with that? I get the feeling that people are looking for complex solutions to basic challenges.

If the public sector wants to gain efficiencies, here’s what I feel they need to do:

1. Subscribe to the premise that what isn’t measured, isn’t managed

  • Start measuring efficiency – this means integrating ‘time and effort’ (work hours) into their dashboards and reporting systems
  • Start documenting issues/problems – this means integrating problem logs or sheets into their daily work
  • Embrace data and documentation by holding open and transparent discussions about results at all relevant meetings and bilats

2. Leverage the untapped power of setting tangible targets and measureable plans

  • Integrate targets and plans into the daily world of work and have those expectations clearly indicated on dashboards and reporting systems – this means that all departments need to know with absolute uncertainty when a performance falls within expectations, or short of expectations (good day/bad day principle)

3. Put accountability back in the workplace and into the hands of the Manager

  • Did you know that some estimates state that Managers control as much as 90% of an organization’s assets!
  • Redefine the role of the Manager as responsible for their processes and people – this means giving them the authority to make decisions and hold them responsible for results

4. Walk the talk about client service

  • Review the work of the department and reduce the amount of work that is not directly impacting the client – this means reprioritizing work around strategic outcomes instead of administrative tasks

In short, we need to get our hands on better data, set more targets, better engage our Managers, and refocus our efforts on the client.

So in an increasingly complex world, why not remember those lessons from the past. It might do us all well to dust off those basic management principles forged over time yet somehow forgotten in this exciting age of technological advancements.

Finding Savings within the Public Sector: Getting back to basics on people and data

By Kathy Roy and Kellen Greenberg

Regardless of a public sector organization’s intent to cost-reduce, realize efficiency gains, or improve effectiveness, Managers are being asked to find ways to do more with less. So the time is right to get back to basics and discuss some key steps that all Managers can take to identify cost savings opportunities.

There are many different approaches that an organization can take to reduce spending year-over-year. Some approaches involve new technological improvements, while others include innovative ways to streamline and consolidate processes. However, in times of fiscal constraint, many organizations are looking for zero cost solutions. And even more in demand are zero cost solutions with quick implementations.

Many of our Clients are applying some ‘go-to’ solutions to achieve quick results. One is to simply ratchet down discretionary spending like travel and hospitality. Another is to find specific functions or lines of business that can simply be stopped. No wonder these are the ‘go-to’ solutions – they have quick returns and results that are tangible. But we’re writing this blog with the idea of adding yet another ‘go-to’ approach to the repertoire, and its’ application lies within the authority of each and every Manager. It is the Manager’s ability to truly leverage their staff’s involvement and their available data and information to identify opportunities for cost savings.

The role of management and their associated work environments has certainly changed over the years. The increasing role of technology and the movement towards functional org structures (and matrix structures) have certainly contributed to that change. As a result, Managers today are less responsible for making decisions that directly affect their people. So when it comes time to identify areas for savings, the process seems to have become more complicated and complex.

But let’s not mistake complications with barriers. Many Managers are exploring new ways to involve their staff and leverage data and information to identify cost savings opportunities. They believe that a more engaged and involved workforce will collaborate to uncover the ‘right’ areas for cost savings. And they further believe that those ‘right’ areas for cost savings can then be validated and tested with data and information. By working with their team, and in spite of the many ‘obstacles’ and ‘unknowns’, they can deliver innovative solutions to do more with less. This should also be the goal for Managers that have become overwhelmingly fixed in their resource allocations.

So what exactly do we mean by leveraging staff involvement and available data and information?

Leveraging staff involvement

Staff are experts in the daily flow of work. They know what works well/what doesn’t, which work arrives on-time/which doesn’t, and where the delays/expediencies exist. Yet in many cases, they are either not asked or are not offering up this wealth of knowledge for consideration. Engaging the staff in the process is not just an expedient way of pinpointing the bottlenecks and backlogs, but also allows Managers to find hidden gems of opportunities. Further, this is something that both Managers and staff should be excited about, despite our knee-jerk negative reactions to reducing costs. Finding the ‘right’ types of efficiencies does more than just save money, it makes the work and the workplace more enjoyable and satisfying for everyone.

Leveraging available data and information

All work environments are full of activities and outputs. These activities and outputs are currently being overseen with varying degrees of formal documentation and discussion. Ideally, a Manager would have the right data and information to validate the potential opportunities identified for cost savings by their staff. Or, at the very least, they would be continually identifying ways to better document and define the work that is getting done. The forbidden fruit appears to be the data that speaks to resource allocations for many `non-measured` functional tasks. Despite the challenges in having data in this area, having detailed knowledge of `at work` days for all team members would go a long way to determining the total capacity of a team or division.

Managers that leverage both staff involvement and available data and information are in a much stronger position to not just find efficiencies by putting a hold on functions and spending, but by making precise decisions about the daily work of staff that optimize gains and minimize impacts.

But first, how does one go about leveraging staff involvement and available data and information?

  • Involve key staff in the opportunity identification exercise – i.e. tell me where the frustrations lie
  • Track both activities/outputs and frustrations – i.e. what got done this week and what got in our way
  • Analyze financial information and understand its conversion to functional organizational structures – i.e. how many FTEs does it/should it take to deliver work/outputs
  • Map current work processes to validate major opportunities/delays and their associated costs
  • Identify major functional rubs and gaps in the flow of work and their associated costs
  • Identify major areas of administrative burden and their associated costs
  • Require more detailed reporting of `at work` days to understand the team`s total capacity for any given week – i.e. ensure they are ramping up for peaks and are all hands on-deck when required
  • Review and understand the team`s available data and information, and share findings back with the team on a regular basis – i.e. here`s what the data tells us

Armed with increased staff involvement and available data and information, a Manager can then make the necessary decisions to deliver savings both within their own team and across their broader division. For example:

  • They can understand not just the ‘peaks and valleys’ of workload, but also how resources affect service delivery and subsequently make decisions to adjust resource levels in the ‘right’ places, minimizing impacts to staff and service levels.
  • They can share the right data horizontally and vertically across the organization to ensure that savings measures from across the organization are aligned in the broader horizontal process of a department and don’t end up finding savings in one area while propagating greater inefficiency in another.

When Managers leverage people and information effectively, they will not only deliver savings, but their day-to-day operations will be more effective. They will be in a position to continually align expectations and resources against tasks, and as a result, there will be less organizational friction and frustration in the workplace; the benefits of which are simply too many to list.

Finding savings and efficiencies is never an easy task, but it can be made less painful. Success will require that Managers both embark upon and embrace the journey!

Hear more about during Kellen’s and Kathy’s presentation on Finding Savings: Back to Basics at GTEC 2011, October 18, 10 a.m., at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

Kellen Greenberg and Kathy Roy are members of Systemscope’s Strategic Business Consulting practice.

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.

[/spoiler]



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.

[/spoiler]



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.

[/spoiler]



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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