5 Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss

Dealing with a bad boss

Bad bosses can be deadly. One 15-year study found that when employees had a difficult relationship with their boss, they were 30% more likely to suffer from heart disease. Perhaps really bad bosses have lower coronary disease because their hearts are seldom used!

If you have ever said, “My boss makes me sick!” you might be right. A British study found that stress induced by a bad boss lowers immune response, and participants were more susceptible to a cold virus.

As with much in life, it’s not what happens to us, but what we do about it. A bad boss might victimize you, but you choose whether to be a victim. Strong leaders don’t wait, they initiate. If you have a bad boss, you can decide that he or she’s not unbearable and live with your situation, fire your boss by leaving, or practice upward leadership with some boss management.

Boss management or leading upward is one of the most popular topics on our website. Recently The Globe & Mail published my column on Five Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss in their Leadership Labs section. I condensed years of writing and coaching on this topic into five steps:

  1. Strengthen your credibility and relationship
  2. Check your timing and approach
  3. Don’t wait, initiate
  4. Speak up
  5. Fire a bully boss

Click here to read the column for a brief description of each step.

A reporter once asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t hate the Chinese Communists. Now they have some bad bosses! The Dalai Lama replied, “They have taken over Tibet, destroyed our temples, burned our sacred texts, ruined our communities, and taken away our freedom. They have taken so much. Why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”

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Are You Doing it…To…For…or…With…Your Team?

Are you manipulating your team

Many studies have shown the impact that control of our situation has on our health, happiness, and effectiveness. In one experiment a white-footed deer mouse was placed in a brightly lit cage. The mouse could press a bar to alter the light. The mouse reduced the lighting to a dim level. The next morning experimenters set the lights to dim. The mouse immediately stepped up the lighting to bright. The mouse didn’t seem to care about its level of lighting. The critical issue was having control.

Another autonomy and control experiment was in a nursing home. One floor of residents were allowed to rearrange their room layout, schedule their time, and given a plant to keep and look after. Another floor or residents were told about all the good things being done for them. The staff arranged their room, scheduled their time, and gave them a plant that the nurse looked after. Eighteen months later, the residents on the floor with more control were more active and healthier than their controlled peers. Only 15 percent on the control floor died compared to 30 percent on the other floor.

Countless organizational studies show that autonomy, participation, “having some say,” and a modicum of control in the workplace are vital to employee engagement. Here are a few ways you can engage your work teams:

  • Develop a regular Listen-Feedback-Action process. This generally starts with a survey or third party interviews or focus groups. The outside company then prepares a summary report. This is reported back to everyone in the organization for feedback, clarification, priority-setting, and action planning. Broader organizational issues are identified, and actions set for implementing those changes. This is reported back to everyone and part of an ongoing process.
  • Coach team members to enrich their jobs and align their personal strengths, passions, and organizational or job needs.
  • Engage frontline service providers in a systematic process of identifying changing customer expectations against your team or organization’s performance. Get their help in analyzing trends and planning to meet those shifting needs.
  • Hold regular breakfasts (“muffins with management”), lunches, and celebration dinners with frontline teams. Take this time to ask for feedback, concerns, and suggestions. A simple question such as: “What’s the dumbest thing we do around here?” can produce powerful insights and engage people in resolving the issues raised.
  • Keep highly visible scoreboards, big thermometers (like a fundraising campaign), bulletin boards, web sites, blog/Twitter posts, newsletters, and the like to update everyone on your progress toward key goals or change and improvement targets. Make goals/targets and progress as visible as possible.
  • To get partnering behavior, treat everyone like partners. Share financial and other “confidential” information openly so everyone can see how his or her efforts contribute.
  • Ask frontline service providers what systems and processes would better help them serve your customers. Get their involvement in prioritizing the areas to be changed and improving them.
  • Send personal thank you notes (on real notepaper, not by e-mail); make detours to offer a verbal “thanks again,” and make lots of supportive phone calls.
  • Use focus groups (a cross-section of frontline staff) to test new management directions before making grand announcements to everyone. Even if you press on against the advice of the focus groups, you’ll have deeper insight on how to face the issues the new direction may raise.
  • Promote those people who are exemplary leaders. Use 360 feedback and other input from a variety of people to get a profile on their leadership effectiveness. Promotions send the clearest signals about the true culture of an organization. Are you promoting your cultural standard barriers?

Resistance to change often frustrates managers. But most of us enjoy change — especially for the better. What we resist is being changed. Effective leaders “do it with” their team or organization rather than doing it to or for them.

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Smiling is Contagious. Try it!

It has been a spring that many will say there was nothing to smile about. It was cold, rainy and dark. From all the rain we have beautiful green lawns and flowers starting to bloom. Again there are many people in parts of the world that are not smiling with all the rain causing flooding and destruction. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about smiling and how contagious it may be in our workplace and for our clients.

Some people are always smiling, cheerful, and they seem to brighten up a room. Their positive attitude and gusto are identified by those they come in contact with. Moreover, we have all encountered those have the opposite effect on people-the “doom and gloom effect.” we often refer to one’s attitude and yet what is that? It is your mental state or the position you take regarding life.

Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  If you take the word “OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE,” some people see the “no where” while others see “now here.” So is the glass half empty or half full? Often the difference between success and failure is not linked to how we look, how we dress, or how much education we have; it is based on how we think!

Great leaders share the same thought; knowing that a positive attitude is contagious. As leaders, it is vital that we display a positive mindset daily. After all, if we expect our employees to express positive attitudes, we should model such behaviours for them to see.

Each day we have a choice of whether we elect to display a positive or negative attitude. Daily, we encounter negative attitudes at work and in our personal lives. If you remain positive amongst pessimism, you can be contagious.

Some times it is not that easy. I have found some tips I would like to share to help you be positive from “Attitudes are Contagious. Is Yours Worth Catching” by Patti Wanamaker.

  • Be enthusiastic – people love to be around enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious and draws others to you like a magnet.
  • Associate with positive people – if you want to stay positive, stay away from people that drag you down. Associate yourself around like-minded people.
  • Smile – smiling makes it all better. Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin, which are known as the feel-good hormones. It is a lot easier to adopt a positive attitude when you feel good!
  • Change your thoughts – positive thoughts lead to a positive attitude, while negative thoughts lead to an adverse reaction.
  • Stop complaining – limit your complaints. Whining and griping about anything and everything will not create a positive attitude. When you are complaining, you are spreading negativity.

·        If you want more success in your leadership role and to have a positive impact on your employees, then make sure your attitude is worth catching.

Many of you are thinking, what is there to smile about, and why maintain a positive attitude when there are doom and gloom around us? Research has shown that there are health benefits of smiling in the workplace. We are dealing with conflict, mental health issues and have difficult situations arising every day as we manage our workplace. Interestingly many years ago, it was declared that “the smile is the best medicine for the happiness of humanity.” Later scientific research explained the effects and physiological benefits of smiling for a healthier life. Smiling can be beneficial, in dealing with illness, pressures of everyday life, stress at work, and smiling can even substantially change the quality and forecasts of our lives.

Would life not be better if people smile regularly? I think smiling every day would keep you away from the doctor and feeling self-confident. Try these:

  • By smiling, we can reduce the level of stress hormones. Smiling helps us to increase the number of antibody-producing cells and improve the effectiveness of other cells.
  • Smiling is good for our general health. Smiling 100 times is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or cycling in fifteen minutes.
  • Sometimes we just want to laugh or cry. That means you want to release all the pent feelings in your head, making you feel both physically and mentally better. So to reduce anxiety smile often, even when you are not happy. Smiling at others will, in turn, help them be happy.
  • Smiling can take you from being angry, stressed, feeling guilty, and negative to putting you in a more favourable frame of mind. Smiling will make you change yourself and improve the attitudes and thinking to other people to the better.
  • When people can view an event that may be frightening as funny, they may be able to feel more content and see the events occurred just merely as a “challenge” in life, rather than a threat.

There are times when smiling, and laughter can be contagious. If you smile more than you can make other people around you also smile more. So by smiling yourself, you can reduce the stress levels of people around you and change their moods. Maybe even improve the quality of social interaction, and reduce your stress level as well.

They say that optimists have a stronger immune system and can fight disease better than the pessimists. There is a link between a positive attitude and good health, which is measured in many different ways. In general, researchers have discovered that optimistic people are more healthy, and they have a stronger immune system.

According to the British Organization of Dental Health, a smile has the level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars.

A smile does not cost you a cent, and it is easy to spread. A recent study showed that preschool children laugh 400 times a day, but the time we reach adulthood, we just laugh an average of 17 times per day.

So take the challenge and smile more often and find things in your lives that you can laugh about.

Stay great and healthy.

 

Monika B. Jensen PhD is Principal of the Aviary Group and can be contacted by email at [email protected]

 

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New Partnership for muniSERV!

You already know muniSERV.ca offers a full suite of tools for municipalities – most of which are free.

But, we’re always on the hunt for even more new and innovative tools and resources to help Canadian municipalities – and we’ve found another perfect partner!

We’re pleased to announce that muniSERV.ca has entered into a partnership with GoByDesign, for their innovative new platform – BoxOfDocs, The Ultimate Sharing Platform For Canadian Municipalities.

Whether you are updating your existing bylaws or policies, or looking to develop new standards, and want to see what similar municipalities have in place, BoxOfDocs is here to help.

*Bonus Partnership Offer

Now, when you register for free on muniSERV, you can also activate your Free Trial of the BoxOfDocs, Municipal Premium Membership, which lets you effortlessly share documents with other Canadian municipalities and gives you with access to thousands of documents your municipality uses daily!

If you have not committed to being an active member for either muniSERV or BoxOfDocs yet, now is a great time to join both and network with other Canadian municipalities to take advantage of valuable tools and services offered under this new partnership.

Welcome BoxOfDocs!

Susan Shannon

Founder & Principal,

muniSERV & muniJOBS

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The answers municipal governments have been looking for?

Municipal governments are facing multiple, growing, and overlapping challenges. Yet, there are tools available to address these challenges that are not being used to their full potential. Market-based policies such as well-designed user fees can help reduce traffic, cut water use, and improve solid waste management, while generating revenue that can be used to fill financial gaps.

These challenges include:

  • Municipal infrastructure is aging and faces a growing investment gap;
  • Municipalities have limited ability to raise revenues. Only so much can be raised from property taxes. They also often face constraints on debt financing; and
  • To attract people and investment, livability is key: cities must provide job and recreational opportunities, ensure affordability, make it easy to move people and products, and protect clean air and water.

Continue reading

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Legacy Systems; The Old Rebuild or Reuse Software Conundrum

Why the Rebuild Route Makes Sense

Text image that reads Rebuild vs Reuse

Typically, in the short term, the rebuild will cost more, but over time, will cost less, provide better ROI and create potentially happier and more efficient employees.

We have created a handy ROI calculator that we use when discussing the true value of saving time and having more efficient workers. This calculator and the logic with it can be downloaded here: Software ROI Calculator.

Rebuild vs Reuse: Things to Think About

With any rebuild of a legacy solution the following areas must be addressed:

    • Mobility: Employees need to access data from different handheld devices. Be it iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Today technology exists to make a solution device agnostic.
    • Web (Remote) Access: Using a browser to access the data provides the most cost-efficient way for users to access data; whether it is internal users or external users. Mobile users can access the web browser to use, interact or access the new system.
    • Future-Proof Workflow: By rebuilding a solution, potential technology traps can be avoided. Ideally, any system built should scope out and last for 6 to 8 years before workflow modifications are required.
    • Collaboration: Gone are the days of a static web page. Companies, big and small, want some form of customer integration with their web page. Rebuilding a solution using a custom web technology will allow a web page to bolt on and be used by both employees, customers, and prospects.

Gone are the days of a static web page. Companies, big and small, want some form of customer integration with their web page. Rebuilding a solution using a custom web technology will allow a web page to bolt on and be used by both employees, customers, and prospects.

Whenever I visit a potential new customers site, I am always surprised by the age of some legacy systems. Moreover, I am surprised at how a great return on investment from the past has now turned into a system/process that is inefficient and a detrimental for employees.

If your existing system was built more than 15 years ago and is still working and being used – congratulations! You have certainly received a great ROI from past investments. But now might be the time to think about a rebuild of your solution. Rebuild before access, inefficiencies or age of hardware severely hurt your business’ growth.

Every business is unique and so is the software they need. Get your free Personal Needs Analysis today.

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NetFore Systems upgrades its Municipal Staff Mobile Application to allowing staff to capture new issues & service requests on the fly while internet or data services are unavailable!

AccessE11, Ottawa, Canada

Home grow Canadian software developer Netfore Systems Inc., updated their popular AccessE11 Mobile Application to help increase productivity and reduce administrative paperwork for the municipal worker while in the field.

A long-standing problem that rural municipal workers face is the need for paper-based processes to record new issues or service requests while in the field because they too often have no data access. This is a productivity barrier that NetFore has addressed with the latest release of its popular AccessE11 cloud-based issue management software product and accompanying a mobile application.

“With previous releases of the AccessE11 solution, we significantly reduced the need for both municipal office and field staff to rely on paper to close the loop on managing citizen complaints and service requests”, says NetFore’s CEO Ken Workun, “however this did not completely solve the problem where a new issue is found by a work crew or a citizen raises an issue with a field worker directly”.

Understanding this issue, NetFore has introduced capabilities to add a complaint or service request from the AccessE11 mobile application even if the user has no data or internet access. “The real difference is the off-line functionality” comments Rene Villeneuve – NetFore’s Software Architect overseeing the project. “We made municipal issue management even easier by taking things one step further.  When an AccessE11 user’s mobile device acquires a data signal or attaches to a wi-fi network, any new cases are automatically uploaded to the AccessE11 database”.

For By-Law officer Nancy-Ann Gauthier, the new off-line case creation feature “means that I can do my full job while on the road even when I do not have a data signal… I liked the mobile App before, but I love it now!” In the town of South Stormont Fire Prevention Officer, Nick MacGillivray finds the ability to create cases while on the road saves time and helps when a call comes to in from a citizen who has an issue with a burn permit, “I now can create the case where ever I am,  in seconds, without having to go to the office or find a data signal”.  Blake Henderson – Public Works Superintendent at North Stormont knows that the AccessE11 mobile application has saved loads of time and “has increased staff productivity.”

 

This new feature is now available as a core feature for all AccessE11 Mobile Application users.

Visit AccessE11.com  to find out more.

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Cyber threats and how to protect your municipality

Brad Pinch – Director of Municipal Needs at AccessE11

 

Often, when we hear about securing online systems against cyber-attacks the first thought is to invest time and energy into cybersecurity software. While this is important, and should not be downplayed, did you know that software alone will only defend against a small percentage of cyber-attacks?

Hacker Image

 

The easiest way for someone to breach your security infrastructure is to employ the unsuspecting assistance of your users.

According to PhishMe’s 2017 Enterprise Phishing Resiliency and Defense Report, 91% of all cyber-attacks are a result of people who fall prey to Phishing Attacks. Of the remaining 9% of cyber-attacks, more than 75% are the result of other forms of “human failure” to secure information.

Phishing is an attack that begins with a very targeted email sent to your staff (and perhaps yourself), that often impersonates a service provider, colleague, family member or friend and entices you to click on a link or open a document. This action may include a request for private information that provides the perpetrator with the means to launch a secondary cyber-attack or it may launch an attack directly through the download of malicious software. Attacks can be in the form of spyware, malware, and increasingly ransomware and data theft.

Wombats Security’s – State of the Phish 2018 report– suggests that phishing attack frequency from 2016 to 2017 increased by 48%; phishing is on the rise because it continues to work. Hackers have quickly learned that it requires less energy to trick users into giving them access than it does to circumnavigate the sophisticated security systems deployed today.

6 simple steps that a municipality can do to protect themselves

Here are a few steps a municipality can take to minimize its chances of security breaches and cyber attacks.

  1. Stay Informed and educate your team

Much of the battle against phishing and spear phishing (personalized phishing) attacks is getting users to understanding what this type of attack looks like, so they are less likely to be duped. Phishing relies on basic human conditions:

  1. information overload and shortcuts our brains take to process the information,
  2. a desire to help those we care for and trust of information that (seems to) come from them,
  3. curiosity for new information.

These traits are well known to attackers and are exploited in order to get victims to click on a link or open a document. Emails look like they’re from legitimate sources: Microsoft 365, Google, Dropbox, PayPal, Adobe account, LinkedIn, credit card company and many more.

There is a great infographic called don’t get hooked: how to recognize and avoid phishing attacks from the Digital Guardian. Print it out and post it for all to see.

  1. Keep your software up to date

Malware is being created all the time and is designed to take advantage of newly discovered vulnerabilities in our general use software. Vendors are quick to update their software, but you must update your version in order to be secure. You should regularly, or ideally automatically, update your software:

  1. Browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc)
  2. Operating Systems (Windows, MacOS)
  3. Office Software (Outlook, Word, Adobe)
  1. Call before you click

Any email from a bank or colleague can usually be responded to directly, rather than via a reply or by clicking on a link. If there is ever any doubt, call your bank on the phone (using published numbers, not one in the email), or log directly into their website directly – not from the link in the email. By not taking the shortcut, fraudulent links can be avoided.

  1. Install anti-virus software and activate the Anti-Phishing toolbar if available

Antivirus software is designed to guard against known vulnerabilities. Even though today’s operating systems are more secure than ever, security tools look for malicious content in real time and provide an extra layer of scrutiny. And make sure you keep it updated as well.

Internet browsers can also be extended with anti-phishing toolbars. Such toolbars run quick checks on any site you visit and compare it a to lists of known phishing sites. If you stumble upon a malicious site, the toolbar will alert you about it. This is just one more layer of protection against phishing scams, and there are many that are completely free.

  1. Implement Secure Password Policies

As hard as it is to believe, the 10 most common passwords in 2017 were:

  • 123456, 123456789, qwerty, 12345678, 111111, 1234567890, 1234567, password123, 123123, 987654321

It won’t take a hacker long to break these codes.

Equally important though – do not use the same password for everything: If you do, and someone gets access to one system, they can often get access to them all. If you struggle to remember passwords (who doesn’t) there are many excellent tools that can assist:

These programs store an encrypted version of your passwords on your computer and conveniently provide them when you need them. This means remembering only one password.

  1. Beware the Unknown Storage Devices

It is possible the free USB drive that is received from a tradeshow, or the one you found in the parking lot has a virus on it. Sites that sell marketing USB drives unwittingly provide ones that have viruses installed from the source in China, Russia, India, Korea and other countries (yes including the UK, US, and Canada). These were likely never checked by the company who put their information on the drive to give to you.

If a data storage device is not bought by your company or municipality from a reputable source then it should not be allowed on one of your computers, ever!

These are only a few ideas to help better protect your organization from cyber-attacks. The common element in each remains the same; people and their behavior represent the greatest risk but also provide the best defense against cyber-attacks. Any user can open the door to intruders, so ensuring everyone understands the risk and remains vigilant is critical. Investment in the human factor will pay off quickly and be more cost-effective than any other action.

For More Interesting Articles on Issues that Municipalities are facing please visit us at https://www.accesse11.com

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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.

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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.

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