Code Enforcement with AccessE11

The mandate of municipal government is to provide access to civic amenities and to ensure that residents follow the local laws and ordinances adopted by City Council.

In general, there are operating processes in place to monitor and enforce these municipal codes. However, it is often the residents themselves that witness and report code violations, at which point the municipality’s responsibility is to initiate an investigation and resolve the situation. When this occurs, there are additional complexities involved, with many municipalities struggling to track and meet their service targets to address citizen-initiated complaints. Any departments responsible for code enforcement must triage citizen complaints across a diverse range of property maintenance, parking, noise, nuisance and other issues. Then, activities must be coordinated with officers in the field, all actions tracked, and any documents consolidated until compliance is reached.

Using the AccessE11 service request management platform, multiple municipalities have streamlined and automated their code enforcement approach, making it effortless for staff to capture citizen complaints, assign the right team, resolve the underlying issues, institute centralized tracking and record keeping, and easily report on issues individually or on an aggregated basis.

Capturing Code Issues

Increasingly, residents expect to be able to interact with their municipality in the same way they do private-sector organizations via multiple channels, and this applies equally to code enforcement.

In light of this, AccessE11 has created a platform that allows citizens to report their concerns online, by email, and using integrated mobile apps. Categorization of each violation by category (permit issue, graffiti, trash & debris, noise etc.) is completely flexible, and geolocation of the issue and inclusion of pictures/other details is simple.

Once reported, the software automatically creates a case to track the issue, acknowledges receipt to the citizen, sets follow-up and due dates, and routes the case to a specific staff member. Moreover, it immediately makes the information available in configurable dashboards, embedded maps and reports to provide a centralized, cohesive view of all past and ongoing code enforcement activities.

Processing Citizen Issues

Inspections are an integral part of the resolution process and, to that end, code enforcement officers are provided with an up to date and prioritized view of the complaints they need to follow-up with the AccessE11 mobile app for staff. Depending on whether or not a violation is observed, an officer on location can close the case immediately, or further document it with corrective actions and a date for a follow-up inspection if required.

Some municipalities also use code sweeps within delimited geographical areas as a proactive means of enhancing the safety, cleanliness and conditions of a neighbourhood. In this scenario, officers can create cases for tracking purposes directly using the mobile app. All relevant information is seamlessly and centrally logged with no need for the officer to visit the municipal office simply to enter data.

From the time an issue is reported through to closure, departmental managers, assigned staff and, to an appropriate extent, the reporting citizen are kept informed with automated, real-time notifications. Code enforcement teams are able to work seamlessly and avoid crossed wires. The reporting citizen can also get updates on their concern at any time by visiting AccessE11’s citizen-facing portal.

Operational Effectiveness

Citizens demand services from municipalities, but they also expect them to use tax dollars wisely. Authorities have a duty to avoid waste wherever possible and act in the public interest.

To that end, they need systems that allow them to make informed decisions and measure the success of their activities. AccessE11’s platform allows code enforcement departments to visualize and report on valuable data, letting them make evidence-based decisions. Managers can prioritize tasks, collect data on current and historic trends, measure against service targets, and gauge the effectiveness of the municipality’s response to issues. This data-driven approach enables managers to get a better handle on the overall efficacy of their teams, as well as the productivity of individual members.

Share

Municipalities Build Back Better With Whole Person Care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot of talk about a Build Back Better approach in our communities during the Covid 19 pandemic.  One strategy that helps address those in need is a Whole Person Care approach using a digital platform to collect and measure outcomes for wrap around programs which can be fully funded under the new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.

With the arrival of Covid 19, the amount spent on healthcare is increasing in every community. While the amount invested in healthcare is increasing, municipalities are spending up to 25% of their healthcare costs to support non-value add aspects in their healthcare system. Value-based care models help optimize what is spent to get the best outcomes. How do communities do more with less as Covid 19 increases health and economic risk? In the short term we will need to work together with what we have and find ways to get better outcomes for less.

We know that Covid 19 is accelerating value-based healthcare approach in communities. Whole-person care is not far behind.

Whole person care describes a wrap around approach that addresses complete physical health, behavioral health and social wellbeing. Communities that work together as a team to provide care for individuals with poorly managed conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and COPD are better equipped to improve health outcomes for less. Helping to manage care for this population most at risk relies on seamless information exchange, tele-health, care co-ordination and consumer engagement. All of these conditions are closely related to the social determinants of health.

Post acute care including home health, hospice and senior living facilities and human service including community mental health centers, addiction treatment centers and social service agencies in every community need to have the technology and skills to work as equal partners. Every community now has a chance to build back better with whole person care. 

Whole person care gets even better when amplified with data science and analytics that are driven with a prescriptive approach to patient care. To prepare our communities to deliver better outcomes during the pandemic, municipalities need to look at systems that offer interoperability – a framework that supports bidirectional exchange of data across systems and providers of care, a network to network bridge, policy agreements, discrete data and support for client consent and sharing that consent with others.

Consumer engagement with a patient portal makes it easier for hospitals and physicians to work with clients. Automated referrals, tele-health and patient information integration create a public care eco-system that serves the public in Covid 19 times. Building Back Better with the help of funding from the Canada Healthy Community Initiative makes it possible to accelerate the care you need in every community. Let us know if you need help with your digital transformation as you build back better in your community.

 

Learn more: Contact Athena Software

 

Share

COVID-19 Pandemic – What’s next.

girl looking at a piece of paper

The pandemic continues to rapidly expand in communities across Canada. At the time of this article over 267,000 Canadians have contracted the disease, 217,000 are recovered and 10,552 died. The number of cases each day is accelerating.

The effects of this highly contagious disease are catastrophic when left unchecked. Health systems are at risk of collapse affecting all other health issues. Covid 19 is not just affecting health care. Municipalities are being asked to address the surge in demand in every human service sector – education, justice, social and healthcare.

Primary care and wait times are measured with traditional outcomes in most communities. The wave we do not see coming as easily is just outside of the range of a 911 call. Mental health issues, loss of income, housing, food, education, relationships are all affected with Covid 19. The cold dark days of winter are coming. The risks associated with Covid 19 and issues associated with the disease are going to increase over the winter months.

While a vaccine may be available early 2021, it’s unlikely every Canadian will have access to the vaccine when it is approved.

Municipalities need to proactively seek strategies that wrap programming around individuals and families at risk. Traditional models of care that involve home visits or appointments are shifting to tele-health.

The federal government in co-operation with the provincial and territorial governments announced funding and extension to funding as the need requires.

It’s time to consider the short and long term requirements of your community during and after the pandemic and make use of the funding currently available to enable your municipality to not just survive but build its way out to a better future.

Contact us to learn more about Athena Software!

Share

Oh, you’re in Procurement…so what do you do exactly?

eye glasses sitting on a mouse pad

Have you ever told someone you’re a Procurement Professional, and then spent the next 20 minutes explaining what a Procurement Professional does?

 

Why is it that doctors and lawyers can simply say they’re doctors or lawyers and leave it at that…but as Procurement Professionals we turn ourselves into pretzels trying to justify our reason for existence?

 

One of the reasons is because the procurement industry, and we ourselves as Procurement Professionals, haven’t done a good job of defining our role in an organization

 

Remember, if you don’t define your role then somebody else will do it for you

 

So if your internal clients think your job is to get quotes, cut POs and make sure invoices get paid…those are the only things they’ll want your help with

 

But if you can articulate and, more importantly, demonstrate your understanding of your organizations competitive market positioning

 

And how you’re responsible for aligning the supply chain with the organizations goals and objectives

 

Then getting quotes and cutting POs isn’t who you are, it’s just some of the MANY things you do as a Procurement Professional

 

No here’s the catch…saying and doing are two very different things

 

So before you start telling your colleagues about secondary sourcing strategies to mitigate offshore supply chain risk

 

Or why it’s important to implement formal vendor management and category management programs in your organization

 

You should also have the skillset to do actually these things

 

And to help with that, we just launched new Strategic Sourcing Essentials eLearning course I co-developed with my friend and colleague, Mark Morrissey

 

Mark and I cover 6 modules in the course:

 

  1. Aligning Strategic Sourcing with corporate goals and objective
  2. Competitive Positioning and Supply Chain Risk
  3. Leading Class Practices
  4. Vendor Management
  5. Negotiation Strategies
  6. Case Study – Process Transformation

 

You can go through the course at your own pace, and when you’ve completed it and submitted your responses to the final case study, you’ll receive a digital certificate of completion

 

You’ll also have access to the course for 1 year so you can always go back and review any of the modules or chat with your peers that are also taking the course

 

And if you’re in a team of 3 or more people, you can take advantage of our corporate rates

 

2020’s been a tough year and many people didn’t get a chance for any meaningful professional development

 

Well this is a chance to, not only tick a box on your year-end review, but actually build on your skillset as a procurement professional

 

For more information you can visit our website

 

Thanks and hope to see you in the course,

Mohammed 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Do you know what you want or need?

It is important that you know what you are asking for…so that it’s not risky.

You have asked for an Assessment. Stakeholders are concerned about security. Is the goal to look to identify your Security Risks, Threats, Consequences or Vulnerabilities? Or all of them? Collectively, there is a formula for that.

Risk = Threats + Consequences + Vulnerability

Do not be taken in by someone who says all assessments are the same.  A risk assessment, threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, security audit or even a business impact analysis are not the same as each other.

Square peg, round hole.

A Threat assessment looks to understand what entities may have an interest in creating a security concern or problem for your organization.

A Security Audit is a validation or verification that security measures that are currently in place are actually in place and doing what they intended to do. This audit focuses specifically on the effectiveness of security and determines if a known vulnerability is being addressed. It does not measure risk.

Vulnerability Assessments look to understand both consequences and vulnerabilities. Threats however within a vulnerability assessment are assumed to be at a high level. At the end of a Vulnerability assessment organizations quite often implement increased security measures to address the vulnerabilities and lower the consequences. This happens because the level of threat and the probability of an occurrence from happening is not actually analyzed.

The Consequence focused Business Impact Analysis identifies the most critical of assets to an organization and sets out to build resiliency around these identified assets, most commonly as a business continuity plan.  Business Impact Analyses do not address threats or vulnerability.

The Risk Assessment is the most effective means of determining security adequacy as it considers all three elements of risk – threat, vulnerability, and consequence.  A Risk assessment should be the methodology of choice if you are seeking to determine your security adequacy and avoid the potential pitfalls of not having all of the information.

But all is not lost. It is okay if your organization needs to only conduct one or several of the assessments mentioned above. There may be cause for you to do one assessment over another, resulting in a more intimate understanding of that particular assessments output.

We can assist your organization in determining which of these assessments is best for you given your organization’s current security risk landscape.

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.

Share

Does Insurance Need to be Publicly Tendered?

We recently heard about a debate among certain public sector organizations on whether the trade agreements apply to the procurement of insurance. To help clarify things, we decided to answer this question.

In this blog post we only examine whether the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) apply as they are trade agreements that apply to most Canadian municipalities. To be 100% sure about whether insurance has to be tendered, municipalities should also check their local rules.

When must a procurement be publicly tendered under CFTA and CETA?

The CFTA and CETA trade agreements apply to Canadian municipalities when:

    • The municipality is included in the trade agreement
    • The good or service is included in the trade agreement
    • The dollar value of the final contract is:
      o 105,700 or greater for goods or services and 264,200 or greater for construction (CFTA)
      o 366,200 for goods/services and 9,100,000 for construction (CETA)

Must the purchase of insurance be publicly tendered under CFTA and CETA?

No. Insurance is not subject to either CFTA or CETA as of the date of this blog post.

CFTA, at Chapter 13, defines the term “financial service” to include a variety of financial services, including insurance. The CFTA, Article 504(11)(h), stipulates that the procuring of a “financial service” is exempted where it is in respect of managing government financial assets and liabilities, including any ancillary and information services. Since insurance is a tool used to manage public assets and liabilities, it is therefore exempted from the application of the CFTA.

CETA applies only to the specific services listed in Annex 19-5. Services are denoted by their Central Product Classification (CPC) code. The CPC codes for insurance and insurance services are not listed in Annex 19-5. As such, insurance is not captured by the CETA.

Regional Note for Western Canada Municipalities — Although CFTA and CETA exempt insurance and related services, entities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC may be under an obligation to tender their insurance requirements under the regional New West Trade Partnership Agreement (NWTPA), which does not explicitly exempt financial services. To be sure, we recommend municipalities consult with their legal counsel or a procurement professional.

Are the ancillary services, such as brokerage and insurance advisory services also exempt?

Yes, services ancillary to insurance are excluded.

Under CFTA, the services provided by insurance brokers, which are by their very nature services ancillary to insurance, are exempted.

As for CETA, the omission of the CPC codes for insurance and related services is sufficient to conclude that brokerage services are excluded from CETA.

Even if insurance exempted from the public tendering requirements, should municipalities tender their insurance requirements?

We think so, particularly if the municipality has never put its insurance requirements out to tender before.

In our experience, all brokers are not created equal. Some are well equipped to provide insurance and risk advisory services while others, not so much.

Municipalities are best served by brokers with experience in the municipal sector who are well-positioned to advise municipalities on available insurance products and who are well positioned to find the best coverage possible for given risks. Tendering your insurance requirements using a RFP that, among other things, evaluates broker capacity and experience, that qualitatively ensures you’re accessing the best brokers and advisors, is a great way to ensure the municipality is getting the best advice and value available for the dollars spent.  Tendering may take a bit more upfront time and effort but the dividends should pay off in the long term.

Lise Patry is a business and public procurement lawyer working out of Ottawa. She co-founded LXM LAW LLP in 2020 to help municipalities with their procurement and contracting legal needs. LXM LAW’s team includes both experienced municipal procurement consultants and lawyers. Lise can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 613-601-6333. (Special thanks to Daniel Ebady, articling student, for his assistance with this blog post.)

Readers are cautioned not to rely upon this article as legal advice nor as an exhaustive discussion of the topic or case. For any particular legal problem, seek advice directly from your lawyer or in-house counsel. All dates, contact information and website addresses were current at the time of original publication.

Share

Municipal Procurement Goes International!

In 2017, the introduction of the Canada EU Trade Agreement (CETA) suddenly shined a new spotlight on municipal procurement, thrusting it onto the international stage. For the first time ever, municipalities were forced to open up procurement opportunities to international suppliers. Almost concurrently, Canada updated its domestic trade agreement, the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), modeled on the CETA. Together, these agreements represent a major paradigm shift for municipal procurement, with some notable impacts as discussed below.

Trade Agreements Regulate Municipal Procurement. Before 2017, Canadian municipalities were generally expected to adopt procurement rules ensuring openness, fairness and value for money. The impact of the new 2017 trade agreements was that, for the first time, municipalities were now required to comply with detailed procurement processes and procedures. The trade agreements cover a full range of new requirements including:
• posting tender notices online
• specific information to include in tender notices
• permitted types of procurements (e.g. open, direct)
• how to handle receipt of bids
• the do’s and don’ts of drafting solicitation documents
• the award of contracts
• posting notices of contract awards and
• bidder barring rules.

Increased Liability ExposureNew supplier rights and remedies. Before 2017, it was almost impossible for disgruntled suppliers to complain about trade agreement violations under Canada’s national trade agreement. The 2017 agreements have introduced new rights and remedies for suppliers, including the rights to:
• a debriefing when they are unsuccessful in a procurement process;
• file a complaint that now must be addressed by the procuring entity – can’t be ignored;
• to submit legal challenges to a federal/provincial/territorial bid dispute panel.

Single Portal Access to all Canadian procurement opportunities. Currently municipalities use all sorts of online portals to publish their opportunities, making access to contract opportunities challenging for suppliers. In the 2017 agreements, the federal government committed to establishing a single online portal by 2022 so that suppliers have one point of entry for all Canadian contract opportunities. Once implemented, this portal will undoubtedly expose municipal procurements to an exponentially greater number of suppliers, further shining the light on municipal procurement practices.

The Municipal Procurement Experience Under CFTA/CETA After 3 Years
It’s hard to conclude the trade agreements had a major impact on municipalities. While anecdotal evidence suggests municipalities have shored up procurement bylaws, policies and procedures, we’ve seen few challenges to municipal procurements under the new trade agreements. This could suggest the supplier community is not paying close attention to the changed landscape and that perhaps it hasn’t caught on to new supplier rights and remedies. And what about Canada’s promised single access portal by 2022? It appears the federal government is working on it. A 2018 Ernst & Young LLP/SAP press release announcing a contract award to develop the portal stated: Provincial and municipal organizations will… be offered an option to use this new platform to streamline their procurement processes … while engaging with more than 183,000 government suppliers. (That’s a lot of suppliers!)

What does the future hold?
The future is now for municipal procurement. We suggest it won’t be long before the seismic shift of the trade agreements is felt. It’s just a matter of time before suppliers gain a better understanding of their rights and remedies under the trade agreements and hold municipalities accountable for compliance. Once the federal portal is implemented, we expect a slew of new suppliers (national and international) will foray onto the municipal procurement stage. There’s still time. If the seismic shift is coming as we suggest, there’s no better time than now for municipalities to get their procurement house in order.

Lise Patry co-founded LXM LAW LLP in 2020 to help municipalities with their procurement needs. LXM LAW’s team includes both experienced municipal procurement consultants and lawyers. Lise can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 613-601-6333. 

Readers are cautioned not to rely upon this article as legal advice nor as an exhaustive discussion of the topic or case. For any particular legal problem, seek advice directly from your lawyer or in-house counsel. All dates, contact information and website addresses were current at the time of original publication.

 

Share

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.

Share

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]

 

 

 

Share

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.

Share