Check please!

Is your security risk management, business continuity and any other resilience program you have simply to prove you have one? Check the box, so to speak? It’s perhaps stable, reliable, unchanging?

Then you have a problem. You’re doing it wrong.

You’re doing it wrong.

You’re programs should be designed to generate improvements. There should be a built-in restart, of the assessment process. The cycle should ensure improvements re-align to the overall business objectives. Your improvements should replace those areas of the program that don’t work, are unnecessary, and need revitalization.

We can help. We can help get your program from simply sustaining itself to regenerating, restarting, re-aligning, replacing, and revitalizing itself so that it works when needed; so that it works for you. We can help get your program working for you.

It starts with a conversation.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

Digital Solutions for Canadian Municipalities

The past few months have been challenging for everyone as we change the way we live, play and work. Many industries have been forced to pivot and find digital solutions to continue serving their customers in the “new normal”. Canadian municipalities are no different. With many municipal offices closed to the public or working at a reduced capacity, there has never been a better time to start introducing digital solutions to work safer and work smarter. Here are some great digital solutions from Canadian muniSERV members to get you started.

 

Citizen Engagement/Customer Service

 

 AccessE11 is a Municipal 311, Citizen Issue and Relationship Management platform designed to provide small to mid-sized municipalities with a simple, cost-effective means to manage citizen issues. The platform drives simplicity, reduced administration, stronger decision making and better compliance across specific areas of focus within local government operations. Citizens can report issues and monitor the status of their issue digitally, improving customer service and operational transparency.

 

Smart City/IoT

 

 Trilliant has revolutionized how municipalities, cities, energy providers and utilities manage their mission-critical operations. Trilliant connects the world of things (IoT) and incorporates Smart City functionality to new or existing networks. Municipalities can improve the efficiency of their offerings through the implementation of things like advanced metering infrastructure for water, electricity and gas, smart street lighting, smart network sensors and so much more.

 

Treasury

 

 Clik2Pay  is a customer billing payments solution that allows citizens to receive and pay their tax bills or other municipal invoices directly from their smartphone. Municipalities benefit from quicker payments and simplifed bill collection, all for less than it costs to pay by debit or credit card.

 

Payroll Efficiency

 

 Mother Clock  Inc. is a fully integrated time tracking payroll platform that is modernizing payroll technology. This tablet-based time tracking service is the solution for businesses that want to abandon paper-based processes.  Mobile employees can use their smartphones to clock-in/out with GPS time tracking, increasing accountability.

 

Cyber Security & Training

 

 RiskAware provides municipalities with an Information and Cyber Security advantage through governance, training, education and risk management. They can help you assess your digital risks before getting started.

 

Digital Transformation Consulting

 

 ArchITectAbility provides IT Advisory, Assurance, Architecture and Governance expert services as well as Business Process Re-engineering offerings. If you’re not sure where to start your digital transformation, here you go!

 

These are just a few of the great Canadian companies that are helping municipalities go digital. 

 

Search our  Find a  Consultant database by service, business name, province or city, for even more of our members’ innovative digital solutions, to help municipalities simplify processes and find efficiencies! 

Unused Technology Costs

How much does your organization spend each year on technology? Not just new technology but maintenance and subscription renewals as well?

 

If you’re a medium or enterprise-level corporation, it’s probably not an insignificant amount

 

For that matter, relatively speaking, a lot of small businesses can also point to technology as a good chunk of their operating expense

 

But now the more uncomfortable question…are you using all of that technology you’re paying for?

 

I was going through my invoices last week and realized that I’m still getting charged by our old hosting provider even though we moved our website to another platform several months ago

 

It’s a small monthly charge but, if I hadn’t caught it, who knows how long I would’ve kept paying those fees

 

Now imagine if that were to happen in a larger organization. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen in large organizations, there’s not much left for the imagination

 

A few years ago, we were doing some consulting work for a client who’d heavily invested in a premier financial platform that was running on their on-premise servers

 

They’d paid seven figures for the initial license fee plus a year’s worth of consulting for customization, implementation and testing

 

And every year since they’d been paying close to six figures for annual maintenance

 

During our review we noticed two invoices our client had received from the same software supplier

 

One was for the annual maintenance, but the second one was for annual subscription fees

 

What had happened was, during the year they were going through their implementation, the supplier released a cloud version of the same product

 

And got the finance department to sign up for a one-year subscription so that they could start using the software right away

 

With the idea being that everyone would get moved to the on-premise version when it went live

 

But that road from on-premise to cloud is usually a one-way street. Rarely do you see an organization go the other way

 

So they went live, but everyone kept using the cloud version

 

And because there was a disconnect between the business and IT, the subscription would auto-renew each year and finance would pay the renewal

 

At the same time, IT would get an annual maintenance invoice for the server-based version and that would get paid as well

 

Now I know that a lot of you are hearing this and thinking about a time when this might have happened in your organization

 

Or you’re wondering if it’s happening right now

 

Folks, it’s September, which means a lot of your IT contracts are going to be coming up for renewals

 

And if there’s ever been a year when it was absolutely critical that you only pay for what you’re using…it’s this year

 

If you’re going to survive 2020 and still be standing in 2021, you have to get a handle on your IT spend

 

But you’ll never be able to do that until you have a handle on your IT contracts

 

And that’s where I believe we stand head and shoulders above everyone in this space

 

Because I designed a platform that gives your procurement team everything they need to properly manage contracts…and they’ll do it for pennies on the dollar

 

So take 5 minutes to see how OneView works

 

And if you need some help with your year-end renewals, reach out to us. We can help with that too

 

Mohammed Faridy

[email protected]

 

 

 

Immunity

 

No individual, no organization, no place is completely immune from some form of a disruptive event. Pandemics, epidemics, financial and government unrest, terrorism, on top of the myriad of natural disasters and the consequences of those events that countries, states, provinces, cities, large enterprise, and small/medium business all could experience.

With these disruptive events, all of the aforementioned entities have difficult decisions to make with regards to their investment into response (and to what level of response), what level of security, what level of operational capability do they need during and immediately after these type of events and others.

How do we reduce the impact of disruptive events?

Invest in enhancing resilience. Organizations require the ability to prepare and plan, absorb and recover for and from disruptive events.

Building resilience, maintaining resilience, staying resilient.

Being resilient, allows organizations to be better equipped to anticipate disruptive events with the expectation that losses are reduced.

Disruptive events will continue. A proactive approach to enhancing your organization’s resiliency will reduce the economic, reputational, and operational affects that disruptive events can cause.

It all starts with a conversation.

We can Help. We’ve helped organizations enhance their resiliency, and will continue to do so with a collaborative approach and transparent communication.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

Risk Complacency

Why should you have a cyclical strategy to your risk and security?

Risk Complacency. You run the risk of being complacent. The one man-made hazard that is probably the easiest to avoid and the largest threat to any sized business, organization, government, event, institution, and book club. Okay, maybe not the book club.

 

So, what happened?

It was quiet. It was nice, there was a sense of security. Unfortunately, that feeling is usually supplemented with a lack of awareness. A lack of awareness of threats, dangers to your organization, those deficiencies that slowly creep up but yet can quickly hammer down all the previous work.

Plan out the work to get your organization on a cyclical strategy to address, manage and mitigate your risk and security threats.

Once planned out. Execute the plan. Do what you say you are going to do…and don’t stop.

Need help? We can Help.

It starts with a conversation.

As we say…Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

Organizational Resiliency – What else is it good for?

What else does organizational resiliency do for the organization aside from being able to carry on during and after a disruptive event?

  • Reduces stress – it reduces stress in those managing and working prior to, during and after an event
  • Increase in trust and confidence – employees believe in the leadership, each other, and the plan to move through an event
  • Reduces absenteeism – people are comfortable and confident in the decision making of their peers and the responsibilities they have
  • Improvement in physical health and wellbeing – with strong mental health comes stronger and maintained physical health
  • Productivity increases – a happy workforce wants to produce
  • An alert workforce – reduction in accident and workplace injuries
  • Learning power – with overall personal health and wellbeing comes the drive, adaptability to learn and the willingness to be flexible in the event of change

There are other benefits to making your organization resilient that are not just about the bottom line.

We can help your organization in building your risk and security management program resiliency.

It starts with a conversation.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group today, and we will be happy to answer your questions or provide quotations.

Cost Savings and Contract Management in Q4

The Importance of Contract Management when Analyzing Spend

 

When my clients ask me to help identify areas of opportunity for cost reduction with their existing suppliers, I ask two questions:

 

1.     Where are your contracts?

 

2.    How much do you spend?

 

The first question usually gets a lot of blank stares, shrugging shoulders and a general sense of helplessness.

 

The second question generates massive spreadsheets from the finance department, listing every supplier that ever submitted an invoice and got paid.

 

But the spreadsheets don’t give the specifics about what was purchased or the underlying contractual obligations.

 

And the reality is that, without a solid understanding of the existing terms and conditions, it’s difficult for any organization to negotiate cost reductions with their suppliers.

 

Unfortunately, many of the consulting firms that are hired to find cost savings opportunities fail to mention the importance of contract management as an underlying prerequisite to spend management.

 

Instead they spend months sifting through a client’s financial data and produce impressive graphs and charts that show exactly where the opportunities are. All the client has to do is consolidate, renegotiate or cancel contracts in order to reduce spend.

 

But by the time the client realizes that they need to first find and understand their contracts, the consultants are either long gone or walking through the door with one of their ERP systems vendors who just happen to have the perfect (expensive, complicated, hard to implement) solution for contract management.

 

The reality is that contract management doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or hard to implement, as long as an organization understands what it really needs.

ERP Systems

Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) systems weren’t developed for contract management.

 

 ERP is business management software intended to collect, store and manage data from various business activities.

 

The system typically consists of a suite of modules that can be bundled together, or added on at a later date, to give the client an end-to-end solution.

 

Suppliers that sell a contract management module as part of their ERP system highlight 3 key benefits of their product:

 

1.     The client can create contracts from within the module, utilizing corporate standard terms and conditions, thereby eliminating the need to work off a supplier’s paper

 

2.    The client can produce reports and summaries of the contracts stored in the system

 

3.    The module seamlessly integrates with other modules (procurement, accounts payable, asset management, etc.) to provide a complete end-to-end solution

 

However, if we take a closer look at each of these 3 supposed benefits we see something different.

 

1.     Contract Creation – I’ve been managing and negotiating contracts for almost 20 years. The way lawyers drafted contracts when I first started is the same way it’s done today, and I suspect that’s the way it’ll be done for the next 20 years. I’ve seen many contract management modules implemented at various organizations but I’ve yet to see one that’s actually used.

 

2.    Reporting – Reports and summaries are only as good as the data used to create them. Garbage in, garbage out. ERP modules require manual data input into a lot of different fields across a lot of different tabs. This makes sense when dealing with numerical data such as financials or asset management, but it’s almost impossible with contracts. ERP systems produce very impressive financial reports but are utterly useless when trying to summarize contract data.

 

3.    Integration – The suggestion that the contract management module will seamlessly integrate with other modules is misleading, at best. At worst, it’s just a way for the supplier to sell more modules. The truth is that any module will only provide seamless integration with other modules within the same ERP system AND as long as there’s no customization. However most organizations don’t go all in with one ERP solution for all of their business management needs and they will almost always need customizations for the modules they do buy.

 

 

So what does an organization really need for contract management?

 

The Simplicity of Contract Management: What you really need

 

Most organizations, big and small, only have a handful of real requirements for contract management:

 

1.     Summary – Once a contract has been countersigned and returned, most organizations require a summary to be sent (along with a copy of the final document) to key individuals and departments such as the CEO, CFO, Legal and Finance

 

2.    Storage – The final version of a contract needs to be stored in a secure location that can only be accessed by authorized personnel

 

3.    Ease of Access – Most contracts that are signed and stored will never be read again, unless there’s a breach. However some contracts (usually IT) have renewal dates, service levels and milestones that need to be reviewed regularly

 

4.    Alerts – Organizations need to know when contracts are coming up for renewal so that they can plan for the cost to renew, as well as any renegotiation that may be needed.

 

A simple tool that addresses these 4 basic needs for contract management will be more than sufficient for most organizations and the cost will be exponentially less than an ERP module.

 

OneView

 

With Q4 around the corner, I’ve been talking to a lot of executives about the impact contract management’s having on year-end cost savings initiatives in the post-COVID environment. 

As one executive recently told me “…one outcome of remote work is that it exposed flaws in our processes that we just ‘made work’ when we were in the office”. 

It was an interesting comment that really drove home a point I’ve been making for some time…less is more when it comes to contract management. 

The reality is that expensive, complicated ERP systems just don’t make sense anymore which is why I truly believe the solution I designed and built, OneView, gives procurement teams everything they need when it comes to contract management…for pennies on the dollar.

If you would like to know more, feel free to message me directly at [email protected]

 

How to Negotiate With Your Existing Suppliers

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”

       Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 

When it comes to negotiating with a supplier you know versus a supplier you don’t, the tendency is to prefer the one you have an existing relationship with.

 

There could be several reasons as to why this would make the most sense:

 

       Renewing an agreement for goods and services that are already being provided.

       Engaging a supplier who is already on site for time-sensitive work

       Leveraging pre-negotiated terms, conditions and/or pricing

 

However, these are not the most common reasons for businesses to prefer their incumbent suppliers to new ones.

 

The main reason we negotiate with incumbents is because we know them.

 

When I needed new tires I asked my mechanic what he would recommend, since he had been servicing my car for the last 6 years. Tires were not his specialty and I knew I would pay a premium by having him find and purchase the tires for me. But I also knew that he would recommend the best tires based on his knowledge of my car and the way I drive it.

 

Similarly, we tend to prefer looking to our incumbent suppliers for solutions to our problems because we feel that they will recommend what is best for our organization based on their knowledge and experience from having worked with us.

 

This makes complete sense, and in most cases would be the recommended approach. The goal should be to have 80% (or more) of your annual spend go through your top 20 suppliers.

 

But this should not mean that we forego the negotiation. A healthy supplier relationship is built not only on trust, but also on transparency and mutual benefit. Good suppliers understand this and are willing to open up discussions for a mutually beneficial agreement. The rest are looking to make a quick buck at their customer’s expense.

 

I recently had the good fortune and misfortune of representing a client in negotiations with two very well known software suppliers. The client had acquired another company through a divestiture and both suppliers were incumbents of the divested entity.

 

One supplier came to the table in the full spirit of partnership. Their team brought forth all of the knowledge they had gleaned over the years in licensing their products to the divested entity. They understood the architecture and proposed solutions that would allow my client to maximize their investment. They also provided industry insight that demonstrated an understanding of my client’s business beyond what their software did.

 

The other supplier pointed to their existing license agreement with the divested entity and stated that, since it did not allow for assignment of licenses, my client would need to re-purchase all of the licenses that were currently installed or face legal recourse.

 

In the end, we negotiated a short-term agreement with one supplier and established a longer-term strategic partnership with the other.

 

I will let you guess which supplier my client no longer uses.

 

Leveraging existing relationships doesn’t mean giving in to the incumbent’s demands, but rather negotiating mutually beneficial agreements with the suppliers that want to be true business partners and not just vendors that sell you things.

 

Have you recently negotiated with an incumbent supplier, or are you preparing to do so anytime soon? If so, I would love to hear about any challenges you’ve had to overcome or tips you may have for the rest of us.

 

OneView

Fun (and Safe) Ways to Enjoy Your Summer

The past few months have been challenging for us all, personally and professionally. Summer is here and, as restrictions are being lifted, it is the perfect time to get outside, shake off the cobwebs and have some summer fun! Here’s a look at some fun, socially distanced activities to kick back and relax this season.

 

Visit a Provincial Park

With most provincial parks reopen, this is a great way to get active and get outside. Discover new hiking trails, find hidden beaches or a great new fishing spot all while getting fresh air. While not all amenities are currently available, park staff are actively working as quickly as they can to open as many facilities and services as possible for the season.

Pack a Picnic

Many municipalities’ public parks are now open to explore and have a family picnic on the green spaces (as many roofed shelters may still remain closed). Packing a special meal from home or getting takeout from a local restaurant is a great way to enjoy family and friends while social distancing. Don’t forget to bring a blanket to sit on!

 

Hike a New Trail

Many of the local trails are open for walking, hiking, and even biking as well. This is a great opportunity to find a new local/regional trail that you haven’t explored before!

 

Fruit and Vegetable Picking

Another summer staple is picking your own seasonal fruits and vegetables. This is a great way to get the entire family outside and have fun. Many of these farms offering these services have put measures into place to ensure the safety of their staff and visitors. Some farms now require an online booking beforehand and are monitoring entry and exits to keep numbers within the provincial limits. PickYourOwn.org has compiled a list of places in Ontario that are offering different fruit and vegetable picking this season (https://www.pickyourown.org/CNON.htm ). It is always a good idea to contact the farm before you head out to avoid disappointment.

Backyard Campout

 

If you are not ready to camp at a provincial park, why not set up the ultimate backyard campout? Pitch a tent, start a campfire, (check on any local fire bans first), then make some s’mores, play games, project a movie … all while have a night outdoors under the stars. The best part of camping in the backyard is that everything you need is still right inside. No need to worry about closed amenities!

 

Watch as more restrictions are lifted for even more fun and safe ways to enjoy your summer!

A Summer to Save Restaurants

With Toronto’s Phase 2, beginning on June 24th, restaurants are poised for opening dine-in patio service, but business will be nowhere near normal for our favourite city eats.

 

Restaurants are facing a summer of only patio dining and take out, cutting their normal guest capacity by 50 – 80 %.  With restaurants already closed for months, we can’t expect that a few patio tables will save them.

outdoor cafe and social distancing 

A plan that is bolder than CafeTO is needed,” said architect and urban planner Naama Blonder, principal of Smart Density.

 

To support one of Toronto’s favourite sectors, two local companies, Trans-Plan and Smart Density take a disruptive approach to CafeTO with “Summer to Save Restaurants.” Expanding patio seating, and allowing access to lots of business storefronts would be created through pedestrian-only use of city streets, every Thursday to Sunday.

 

“We’re in this together, and together we need to pivot to support each other make it through these difficult times. If that means we need to take some detours to help our restaurants out – I think that’s what we should do,” said Trans-Plan CEO Shadi Hagag. 

 

Toronto city officials, residents and tourists have the power to reconfigure and re-imagine local communities. 

 

“We are urban designers and transportation engineers who have opened up our creative toolbox to re-imagine our streetscape. It’s not the normal configuration, because this is designed to be the Summer to Save Restaurants,” said Smart Density architect, Naama Blonder. 

 

By redirecting pedestrian flow into the centre of the street, and enabling restaurants and storefronts to expand into the road – the plan encourages safe movement, service and experiences for all stakeholders. By limiting flow to only pedestrians, we mitigate the risk of confusion, flow disturbance and promote physical distancing.  And we bring back jobs and consumption to the economy.

 

 The Summer to Save Restaurants plan derives from the success of the King Street Pilot Project. For King Street, the priority was Transit – for the Summer to Save Restaurants Project – the priority is given to the Restanteur, the Customer and the Pedestrian.

 

Some cities have kicked off this idea early, encouraging both business owners and residents that safe experiences and business continuity can go hand in hand. The City of Guelph has pushed forward with making the downtown core pedestrian-only a few days a week, and St. Catherines too, has followed suit.

 

For support in ensuring your designs and plans can push forward, don’t hesitate to reach out to Trans-Plan for temporary design and conceptual plans!