How Your Online Presence Could Be Hurting Your Job Search

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And, in this day and age, it is very often your online presence that will make that first impression for you. If you’re currently in the market for a new job, it is very likely that potential employers are checking you out online before even considering you for an interview. The strength, or weaknesses, of your online presence, can make or break you. Don’t let them keep you from getting the job that you want!

job search

Even though you are applying for a professional position, your personal social media will still be under scrutiny. Now might be a good time to review the persona that you are presenting, as well as your privacy settings. Even the tightest profiles can be subject to security glitches, so you need to assume that everyone can see EVERYTHING that you post, like, share or comment. We have all heard stories about people losing their job over an inappropriate tweet or an off-colour Facebook photo, not to mention scathing posts about a former employer. Don’t sabotage yourself before you even get started.

 

When tending to your professional online presence, consistency is key. Make sure your name is the same on all your profiles, including your Candidate profile on muniJOBS, by avoiding nicknames, etc. It will make it easier for employers to search you out. Make sure you are sending the same message on each of your profiles. If your muniSERV profile presents you as a well-qualified consultant, your LinkedIn profile should do the same. Ensure that all profiles are fully up-to-date with any new skills, training courses, or achievements. This might also be the time to call in some help from a pro. A dynamic biography with a summary of your strengths and experience can go a long way, especially when written from an outsider’s point of view. Consider it an extension of your CV or cover letter and outsource it to a professional for best results.

 

Some experts predict that online presence will make the resume obsolete in the next 5-10 years. In an already competitive market, this will only lead to an even larger talent pool being available with full information readily available. This is even more reason to make sure that your personal and professional profiles are in line with the image that you want to project. Increase your chances of being found by municipal decision-makers with a CAO or Consultant profile on muniSERV and/or with a Candidate’s profile on muniJOBS. Contact us for more information and get started today.

Everything You Need to Know about Software ROI

While not all projects or organizations are alike, there are many different elements of technology acquisition that have different value propositions and hence, need to be evaluated differently.

Here’s everything you need to know about software ROI… Let’s get to it…

People at office laptops

Software Value Proposition

Software is unique – it can run on almost anything, comes on a disk, CD, DVD, download, Cloud… It can do almost anything – from organize your day, inventory, plant, office, people, customers… you get the idea – it is somewhat ubiquitous – because you can never use that work too much.

Software value proposition aligns directly with the big three ROI elements reviewed in my previous blog:

  • Increased Revenue/Gross Margin
  • Increased Bottom Line/Efficiency
  • Improved Customer Experience

But how do you measure these (without hiring a team of financial specialists and accountants)? Let’s get back to the KISS principle.

Some software has an acquisition cost in either license costs or development costs. This licensing model typically has some form of maintenance or upgrade cost associated – you may also want to incorporate some component for infrastructure costs. Subscription [OK I’ll use the Cloud word] based software has a monthly or annual fee. All of these models can fairly easily allow you to find a long term direct cost of ownership – I would suggest you span this out past 5 years for acquisition licensing model with a 10-year life span or 5 years for the subscription model.

You now have a handle on the long term investment in the solution – sadly that may be the easy part…

In order to measure the returns, it can get a little more complicated. Let’s look at the big 3.

1) Revenue/Gross Margin

If you can you attribute specific revenue increases to the functions the software provides, then it simplifies things. It may not always be so easy. New geographies, increased penetration into existing accounts, cross selling metrics can be functions of many things. Additional revenue from online transactions is easier to quantify. Ultimately, it will be important to quantify these to your best ability. If you can attribute the reduction in direct Cost of Goods to the revenue, this number becomes somewhat obvious.

2) Increased Bottom Line

Generally, this is one of the somewhat easier parts to quantify – If you are in a position where you need to hire additional resources to complete tasks that automation can address, you can offset these net costs directly. Ultimately if you have operational costs that are labour intensive, eliminating the inefficiencies of these tasks through automation will reduce costs through increased production without increased labour and deliver an improved bottom line.

3) Improved Customer Experience

In a world where customers will pay for a premier experience, this may be one of the most important aspects of ROI, but perhaps one of the hardest to quantify. Through an improved experience, your “customers:”

  • Have a higher degree of loyalty
  • Purchase more from you because you are always open or have tools to purchase when they need it (impulse)
  • Have access to information to do their jobs from anywhere without interrupting their jobs
  • Rely on your organization because you are an extension of them

Ultimately the goal here is to attempt to quantify (in real dollars) the gains from these activities.

The rest is just math…

Person typing on a keyboard

A Simple Approach to Calculating ROI/ROI%

(Recognizing there are no factors for NPV for the financially oriented readers)

Calculate all direct costs for the useful life of a project (Development, Licensing, Support):

  • e.g. $ 50k initial development + 5k support annually for 10 years = 100k direct costs

Calculate the increased bottom line contribution through increased revenue, decreased cost:

  • e.g. Reduce hiring requirement of a $60k person, increase revenue by $ 50k annually through efficiencies = ($ 60k + $50k) * 10 = $ 1,100k
  • ROI (months) = 100k/1,100k*120 = 11 Months
  • ROI% = 1,100/100*100 = 1,100% or 110% annually

Chat with CoreSolutions about Delivering Tangible Results

Our rule of thumb for the viability of a project is fairly simple. When you invest in a project, the project should pay for itself within 18-36 months through increased returns. After that period you will receive these increased financial returns for the balance of the software’s useful life. Typically, this results in a 40-80% annualized ROI% – very few financial investments can boast these levels of return.

I would welcome the opportunity to chat with you about how we might assist in optimizing and growing your business and delivering tangible results. So, connect with us via telephone at 1-800-650-8882 or fill out a contact us form on our website.

9 Essentials to Honing Your Leading Edge and Boosting Team/Culture Performance

Many leaders feel they can’t do much to change behaviors and culture. But overwhelming research shows that’s not true. Leaders have a major impact on “the way we do things around here.” A team or organization’s culture ripples out from its members and leaders. The single biggest key to transforming a team or organization’s culture starts with its leaders defining and developing their behaviors.

Teams and department/divisions with exceptionally strong leaders build thriving peak performance local cultures even if the bigger culture they’re part of, and leader they report to, are weak. Organizational culture exists simultaneously and independently at three levels: the unit/team, department/division, and entire organization, and those micro or main cultures can be enriched at any level.

Nine elements especially stand out from this latest review of best leadership and team/culture development practices:

  1. Lead, Follow, or Wallow – highly effective leaders make critical choices to proactively change, grow, and develop rather than being changed
  2. Strong Leadership Cuts Through the Management Maze – team/organization performance is dramatically improved when good managers learn how to become great leaders
  3. Yield of Dreams – highly effective leaders tap into this infinite and renewable energy source
  4. The Heart Part – courageous conversations, two-way communications, and openness, come from, and expand, trust
  5. Coach Diem – outstanding leaders seize key coaching moments to up everyone’s game
  6. Making Teams Work – too often managers build a “scream team.” Extraordinary leaders build dream teams by boosting collaboration, cooperation, and coordination
  7. Three Core Questions Defining Your Team or Organization’s Culture – too many vision/mission/values statements are lifeless gibberish and generate a high “snicker factor”
  8. Hitting the Shift Key – the best leaders and teams act on their understanding that their culture ripples out from what they do, not what they say
  9. Setting the Culture Compass – failing to map a route through the many swamps and sinkholes of team and culture change are why 70% of these efforts die out

Rate yourself on this checklist. How’s your leadership? How’s your leadership team?

Practical Ways Leaders Can Model Culture Change

A department, division, or organization’s culture ripples out from its leadership team. A team that wants to change “them” needs to start with a deep look in the mirror to change “us.” Organizational behavior reflects leadership team behavior. This is much like an old parenting adage, “children are natural mimics; they act like their parents despite attempts to teach them good manners.”

In their 10-year global study of leadership and culture development (published in their book Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage), Scott Keller and Colin Price report, “programs in which leaders model the desired changes are four times more likely to be successful. In an organizational context, the key elements of role modeling are transformation among senior leaders, symbolic acts, and developing a cadre of ‘influence leaders.’”

Here are just a few ways leadership teams can model the behavior they want to see rippling throughout their culture:

  • Bring customers, customer advocates (salespeople are excellent ones) and front line service deliverers to key planning and operational sessions.
  • Put on an apron or pick up the phone and serve customers without being introduced as top leaders. You’ll be sending important signals. And might even learn something.
  • Serve your producers and servers. Continually ask them what the leadership team can do to help them provide higher levels of service/quality. Hold managers accountable for serving their teams.
  • Overlook weaknesses unless they’re clearly causing problems and must be addressed. Develop and nurture strengths that align with the individual’s passions and what the organization needs from him or her.
  • Celebrate, honor, cheer, applaud, reinforce, laud, praise, extol, and otherwise reinforce all behaviors that exemplify your core values and desired culture.
  • Ensure leaders are first in line for leadership and key skill development. Model those skills in meetings, coaching activities, and team decision making and planning. And having senior leaders deliver those sessions to the next level of managers infuses the training with a whole new sense of priority.
  • Search out and destroy all executive status symbols, perks, or privileges that contribute to the “we/they” gap.
  • Agree on three or four Strategic Imperatives that will strengthen your culture. Establish cross-functional teams to lead those changes and set a rigorous follow through process with regular updates to the leadership team.
  • Get unfiltered and anonymous feedback on your leadership effectiveness with 360 assessments. Build personal and team development plans around that feedback that leverages strengths and addresses any “fatal flaws.” Involve others in your personal and team development process.
  • Hold regular meetings with team members in groups and individually to discuss your leadership and culture development progress.

The most effective communication is face to face. The most believable communication is behavior.

You can watch our recent Executive Team Building and Culture Development webinar for a deeper look.

Coaching Matters: Are You a DIY Manager Choking Growth and Development?

Good managers often have strong technical expertise and analytical skills. They love to jump into the details and resolve tough problems. Effective leaders resist the quick-fix, I-can-do-it-better-myself temptation. He or she knows such do-it-yourself projects reinforce the upward delegation cycle (“Hey, boss. Here’s another one for you to solve”). This leads to him or her becoming ever busier while team members’ growth is stunted, and the organization slows down to the pace of the stressed-out manager.

The sad story of hard driving entrepreneurs or upwardly mobile and ambitious managers choking their organization’s growth is an all too familiar one. These entrepreneurs and managers become the barrier to the organization reaching its next level of growth. These managers don’t make the transition from running operations to building a team that runs operations. Their own stunted leadership growth prevents them from making the critical transition from driving and directing to coaching and developing.

Countless studies show leaders with highly developed coaching skills have a huge impact on their team or organization’s results. For example, less than 15% of employees with leaders rated in the bottom ten percent of coaching effectiveness rate their work environment as a place where people want to “go the extra mile.” However, when leaders are rated in the top ten percent of coaching effectiveness, “going the extra mile” leaps to nearly 50% — a threefold increase. A MetrixGlobal survey found that “business coaching produced a 788-per-cent return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business.”

This month’s Harvard Business Review features an article on “The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers.” Management professor and author, Sydney Finkelstein, (his new book is Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent) reports,

“…the best leaders I studied were teachers through and through. They routinely spent time with employees, passing on technical skills, general tactics, business principles, and life lessons… and it had a remarkable impact: their teams and organizations were some of the highest-performing in their sectors.”

A manager sees people as they are. And they’re often a growth choke point. A leader sees people as they could be — and nurtures that potential through strong coaching and development.

Communicating and Listening Non-Judgmentally: Tools for Dealing with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

I am finding as I train, coach and mediate that the issues in the workplace are becoming more complex. In recent events, some high profile individuals have come to the attention of the media as a result of their actions. We are finding mental health issues are more of a concern and the means to address them is less easy. In this article, I am attempting to share some tools you may want to engage in when speaking with your colleagues or employees.

Communication is not just saying words; it is creating correct understanding. Active listening is an essential skill in the communication process. Dr Marius Pickering from the University of Maine identifies four characteristics of empathetic listening.

Continue reading

Advantages of Progressive Web Applications

Progressive web apps are causing a paradigm shift for software development. Traditionally, the development of an app meant knowledge of native languages such as (but not limited to) Java, Objective-C or Swift. It also meant jumping through the hoops and hurdles of getting yourself listed on those pesky Apple and Android App Stores. Now however, the development of apps can be made accessible to us lowly HTML, CSS and JavaScript coders. Before we continue on about the benefits of progressive web apps, it may be beneficial to explore their predecessor: Traditional Web Apps.

Traditional Web Apps

Traditional web apps differ from native apps because rather than an app icon on your screen; they are made accessible through a web browser. They are beneficial because unlike native apps, they are easier to maintain due to their common code across various platforms. Most importantly however, they don’t require visiting an app store for download.

However, web apps are not without their own shortcomings; as they are not installed directly on your mobile device—without internet connectivity, a web app is relatively useless. Hybridizing mobile and traditional web apps however create a new entity, one that takes advantages of the strengths in both native mobile and web applications: Progressive Web Apps.

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are a hybridization between native, and traditional web apps. Progressive web apps are progressive because they work in old and new browsers, although they benefit from the use of modern browsers and features. They also deliver a more app-like user experience. Like native applications, PWA’s can have icons placed either on your desktop, or in your toolbar, providing easy application accessibility. By combining the native and traditional web applications, PWA’s are able to achieve the benefits of each, while mitigating their shortcomings. In fact, Pinterest – a popular image sharing site – experienced a 40% increase in time spent on their site, and 44% higher user generated ad revenue after implementing their new progressive web app.

Benefits

A major advantage to using progressive web apps is the avoidance of app stores, and their strict regulations. Another important benefit not to be overlooked, is the growing presence of “app fatigue”. The 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report revealed an astonishing 50% of smartphone users in the US download NO apps per month. By focusing more on the user experience, PWA’s can provide more value to your customers, and your organization.

Arguably one of the most important features of a progressive web app is its flexibility, although originally intended for mobile use, PWA’s function just as well on desktop, television, and tablet screens. Offline mode is also of benefit, as information a user has accessed previously is available for use and viewing without the need of an internet connection; something native apps have yet to accomplish.

In terms of maintenance, progressive web apps also boast simplicity over their app-store-distributed counterparts. Rather than having to submit an update packaged file to the app-store, PWA’s can simply be updated directly through the server.

Limitations

So far you might be thinking – “why would anybody choose native over progressive web apps?”. However, there are a few shortcomings associated with obtaining your own web app. The main downfall is the lack of support on iOS devices, limiting your applications reach. Secondly, unlike native apps downloaded directly onto your phone, these web applications are unable to sync with your phones functionalities. Things like GPS location, calendars, contacts, or any other features native apps typically interface with, are unavailable to PWA’s.

Conclusion

Progressive web apps are changing the face of software development. Not only do they experience a variety of user benefits, but they also improve performance overall—see Pinterest’s Progressive Web App Performance Case Study. Increased time spent on site, increased ad revenue, as well as conversions are just a few of the benefits you can expect from replacing your native application with a web application.

Overall, PWA’s are:

  • Easier to develop
  • More useful for users
  • Easier to install, maintain, and keep secure
  • Easier to grow as your company grows
  • Can be run on any type of device (desktop, mobile, tablet)

Let’s discuss your next web-based application. Contact us directly at 1-800-650-8882 or fill out a contact us form on our website and we’ll help you determine how to make your next progressive web app a massive success!

Implementation of an Enterprise-wide Common Street Address Database for the City of Hamilton

Problem

The City of Hamilton has many service delivery applications utilizing and storing resident addresses. For example, street addresses are solicited from the resident in a free form method and are never validated against a common address database.  Thus, the City has numerous instances of address databases that are not accurate or consistent, which are used on a daily basis to communicate to the residents. In many cases, these address databases are misused and often invalid addresses cause breakdown of communications.  This has led to embarrassment for the City, anger by the residents and in some cases legal action.

Challenge

The challenge is to establish a single authoritative address database which all service delivery applications can valid against.  Establishing which is most correct and then comparing others to get the best of breed is the greatest challenge.  Other challenges are the adoption of a single authoritative database, “clean up” existing databases and encourage application stewards to use the single authoritative database as truth.

Resolution

The City engaged a subject matter expert to help collect business requirements, design a solution and implement this solution. The technical solution consisted of a consolidated database model, application database cleanup, address maintenance tool, redlining tool for identifying address issues and a method to deliver addresses to other service delivery applications.

Also a sustainability model to ensure that addresses were maintained accurately and on a timely basis by identified stewards. The address model would ensure that new or updated addresses would be available to other service delivery applications.

Announcing New CAMA/muniSERV Partnership!

This is an exciting new partnership for both muniSERV’s professional and municipal members!

Our professional members immediately get more exposure for their professional profile and for their ads on muniSERV – and our municipal members who are CAMA members get access to more resources and discounts off muniSERV’s paid services. 

Here’s CAMA’s Official Release:

CAMA Announces New Partnership with muniSERV.ca

CP News Release – Released on: May 29, 2018

Municipal association partnership with muniSERV.ca will benefit members nationwide

FREDERICTON, New Brunswick, May 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) is pleased to announce a new partnership with muniSERV.ca – Canada’s leading online platform to connect municipalities and the businesses that serve them – that will benefit its members nationwide.

The partnership will allow CAMA members easily to find qualified consultants specializing in municipal matters, post a Request for Proposal, bid or tender, find a CAO, post a CAO job, see and submit events of interest to municipal administrators, and even sell surplus equipment.

The partnership also provides for some great discounts to other special services, including the following:

  • muniLEARN – an end-to-end collaborative learning management system platform with access to over 900 accredited digital courses for any size municipality and
  • muniJOBS – coming soon is the only online career and recruitment platform in Canada with a 100% municipal focus that provides candidates with both matching and searchable job postings.

Registration is free for CAMA members, and it takes less than a minute to join. Once a municipality is registered, any member of the team can also join and access the services available.

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Media Contacts:

CAMA: Stacey Murray, 506-261-3534, admin@camacam.ca

muniSERV: Susan Shannon, Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca, 855.477.5095, sshannon@muniserv.ca

About muniSERV.ca

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need, while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business. www.muniserv.ca

About CAMA

The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) is a national, non-profit association open to all Chief Administrative Officers / City Managers and any person employed in a senior management position that reports directly to a CAO. With a membership of over 600 senior municipal employees from all parts of Canada, CAMA collectively represents more than 70% of the nation’s population. www.camacam.ca

 

 

7 Ways to be Seen as a Leader

7 Ways to be Seen as a Leader

Municipalities Need CAO Candidates with Strategic Thinking Skills, Political & Business Acumen, and Those Who Are Innovative.

Do you have what it takes?

 

Having a nice resume showing your relevant education and skills might land you the job, but you won’t be able to truly succeed as a CAO unless you have something more – strong leadership skills. There are many ways to be recognized as a leader without having to do something heroic like leading an army to war. Here are 7 ways to prove yourself as a strong leader in your municipal position:

 

COMMUNICATION

An open line of communication is vital in any relationship, especially a professional one. A good leader is always available for honest and open discussions and feedback with their team, but you must be ready to listen as much as you speak. In today’s digital world, effective communication also includes email, social media posts and nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions.

 

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

If you aren’t committed to your job, why would you expect anyone on your team to be? A positive attitude can be contagious, but not as much as a negative one. How you approach tasks and situations will set the tone for those working with you so stay positive and enthusiastic as much as possible.

 

PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

When things go wrong, and they always do, how will you react? A good leader will take ownership of any issues and work quickly to solve them, as well as prevent them from happening again.

 

RESPONSIBILITY

Everyone loves to receive praise, but how do you handle criticism and accept blame? A good leader needs to be able to accept the good and the bad without finger pointing and playing the blame game. Accept your mistake, find a solution and move on.

 

MOTIVATION

Most employees need more than a paycheque to stay engaged and interested in their job. A good leader will recognize their employees’ strengths, weaknesses and interests to make sure they feel valued, heard and appreciated. This can be as simple as a small reward for a job well done, mentoring a new hire or assigning additional responsibilities to increase involvement.

 

FLEXIBILITY
A good leader must roll with the punches. In today’s world of increased citizen engagement and councils’ need to periodically change community direction, you must be ready to change directions at the drop of a hat. Last minute changes, mishaps, covering for other employees … a leader must be able to take it all in stride and accept that nothing ever really happens when or how it is supposed to.

 

DELEGATION
If you try to do it all yourself, you are setting yourself up to fail. Some feel that assigning duties to their team shows weakness, but it is actually the sign of a good leader. Delegating tasks, while keeping your employees’ strengths in mind, gives you more time to focus on the important things.

 

The key to being a good leader can be found in the skills that you likely already have. Now it’s time to nurture and grow those skills and become the superstar you were always meant to be!

muniSERV is Canada’s leading online solution for helping municipalities and professionals connect.  We help municipalities save time and money searching for the consultants & CAOs they need while offering professionals the opportunity to showcase their profile and services to get found and grow their business.