Digital Solutions for Canadian Municipalities

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

 

Citizen Engagement/Customer Service

 

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

 

Smart City/IoT

 

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

 

Treasury

 

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

 

Payroll Efficiency

 

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

 

Cyber Security & Training

 

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

 

Digital Transformation Consulting

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Risk Complacency

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

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

 

So, what happened?

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

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

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

Need help? We can Help.

It starts with a conversation.

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

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

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Cost Savings and Contract Management in Q4

The Importance of Contract Management when Analyzing Spend

 

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

 

1.     Where are your contracts?

 

2.    How much do you spend?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

ERP Systems

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

So what does an organization really need for contract management?

 

The Simplicity of Contract Management: What you really need

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

OneView

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Pandemic/Epidemic Business toolKIT

We are deeply focused on keeping your employees, customers, and suppliers safe while working, visiting, or conducting business at your facilities and supporting your business operations.

The Michael White Group International and Hilt International Security have partnered together in order to create a dynamic resource that is continuously growing, developing, and being  revised to keep you informed of the latest requirements, new best practices, and procedures.

As we all continue to navigate our  ‘new normal’, we have tapped into our global resources to develop a toolKIT that lays out processes to raise awareness of new health and well-being protocols and potentially helpful practices for cross-functional teamwork, operating discipline, and training for employees.

While it is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the Pandemic/Epidemic Business toolKIT includes practical recommendations, based on guidelines from Health Canada and World Health Organization, that could be tailored for different  businesses (when required) to address various scenarios they may face when returning to work. Regular updates will be made to the toolKIT based on real-time feedback. The toolkit covers a wide range of topics, including:

•      Step-by-step guides for setting up a pandemic response team

•      Cleaning and disinfection procedures

•      Staggering shifts and lunch breaks and other physical distancing strategies

•      On-site health screening

•      Protocols for isolating employees who become ill at work

•      & more.

This has been a difficult time for everyone, and re-establishing a workplace where employees feel comfortable performing their jobs safely is a multi-faceted challenge. It is our hope that by developing and providing this resource we can help your organization accomplish and adapt to the new operating protocols in today’s still ever challenging conditions.

Should your Municipality be open to exploring the need, whilst accessing our  toolKIT to assist you during  the re-opening, and re-populating of your facilities, contact Michael White Group International today, and in partnership with Hilt International Security we will be happy to assist.

 

 

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Canadian Government Entities Under Scrutiny for Lax Cybersecurity

Canada’s government sector is increasingly coming under scrutiny for both lagging privacy and security both in legislation and in practice

 

In a sign of the times, figures released in February to the House of Commons reveal that the personal information of at least 144,000 Canadians was mishandled by Federal department and agencies, including the Security Intelligence Service and Department of National Defense.  The breaches were widespread, impacting over 10 separate departments and agencies, with evidence indicating that these figures are being underreported due to inadequate reporting requirements.  The Canada Revenue Agency led the pack with 3,020 identified breaches over the last two years impacting at least 59,065 Canadians. 

 

Helical’s offerings meet the “Baseline Cyber Security Controls for Small and Medium Organizations” published by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and can be scaled up according to need.  You can learn more about how we meet these requirements here or for more information about Helical, visit our website.  

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SDS Breakdown: What, When, Why & How?

What is an SDS?

SDS stands for Safety Data Sheet (previously called MSDS • Material Safety Data Sheet)

When do you need an SDS?

Safety Data Sheets are created for any product that is “classified as a “hazardous product” under WHMIS that is intended for use, handling or storage in a workplace in Canada.”

Hazardous product means any product, mixture, material or substance that is classified in accordance with the regulations made under subsection 15(1) in a category or subcategory of a hazard class listed in Schedule 2 Source

Safety Data Sheets are to be provided by the manufacturer or supplier. They can be a hard copy given in-person or mailed, or a digital copy on a USB, a disc or sent via email.  It is required that workplaces in Canada maintain an SDS library, whether hard copy or digital, and that it be readily available to all employees.

Metal worker wearing PPE at work with fumes surrounding him

What is on an SDS?

A Safety Data Sheet is separated into 16 sections, below is a brief outline of what information goes into each section.

SECTION 1 – Identification

SECTION 2 – Hazard Identification

SECTION 3 – Composition/Ingredients

SECTION 4 – First Aid Measures

SECTION 5 – Fire-fighting Measures

SECTION 6 – Accidental Release Measures

SECTION 7 – Handling and Storage

SECTION 8 – Exposure Controls / PPE

SECTION 9 – Physical and Chemical Properties

SECTION 10 – Stability and Reactivity

SECTION 11 – Toxicological Info.

SECTION 12 – Ecological Info.

SECTION 13 – Disposal Considerations

SECTION 14 – Transportation Info.

SECTION 15 – Regulatory Info.

SECTION 16 – Other Info. (Dates, etc.)

How can you manage your SDS library?

Depending on the number of hazardous materials in your workplace, maintaining your SDS library can often end up being a full-time job! Because Safety Data Sheets are not always provided as easily or up-to-date as they are required, locating the correct copy often takes research, correspondence with the manufacturer and more.

Why do you need help managing your Safety Data Sheets?

Instead of taking up the time of a valuable employee in your company, hiring professionals for your SDS Management is the best way to go. We hire a lawyer to assist with our legal matters, and a plumber to assist with our plumbing, so why not leave this to the professionals as well. Managing your Safety Data Sheets is a matter of not only compliance with legal requirements, but they also provide the needed information to keep your workplace as safe as possible.

MySDS.ca can build and maintain your SDS library which can give you peace of mind, save you money and keep you compliant!

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Chemical Inventory & Safety Audit : What You Need to Know

Setting up and managing a Chemical Inventory can be a difficult task, even when you think you have done your research or have prepared yourself with a spreadsheet or list to follow. The difficulty comes when you begin attempting to cross-reference Chemicals with the Vendor SDS, which may create significant problems if you are unable to do so.

A man conducting a chemical inventory in a MySDS vest

Tracking chemicals in the workplace requires detailed knowledge of all possible “hiding places”. Chemicals can be found in the strangest places –and they can be easily overlooked.

MySDS and Green Lights Logos with Did you know and hazardous materials Insulation bat and Brick

It is not always obvious that certain items can also be considered “chemicals” – did you know that welding rods and certain building materials (IE. insulation batts, bricks) may be hazardous if exposure to by-products occurs? As a result, you may not be able to perform risk assessments for the whole site. Chemicals often interact explosively with other chemicals, so storage location may be a problem if you need to have multiple chemicals with a certain distance between them. The Inventory must identify the distance between chemicals so that appropriate incompatibilities reporting can take place.

 

Chemical Inventory and Safety Audit made easy…

 

Green Lights and MySDS will work with you to determine which procedures and information are necessary for your business.

 

We will conduct a physical inventory of all hazardous chemicals including *consumer products.

 

*Consumer products are products that do not require a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) when purchased by a consumer in a retail setting, however, some of these products do require an SDS when they are brought into the workplace (example: paints, hand soaps, inks)

 

 We will compile a list including:

• Chemical name (i.e Acetone)

• Amount – unit of measure (i.e 1 litre)

• Container type (i.e Glass bottle)

• Manufacturer (i.e Aldrich)

• Exact location (i.e Building C, Warehouse Office, Shelf A)

 

Shelf full of chemicals do you know every nook and cranny with MySDS information

 

We will also update the chemical inventory database when you:

1) Move to a new location

2) Acquire a new hazardous chemical

3) Your inventory volumes change more than 10%

4) You remove a chemical from your inventory

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

A company must declare their inventory status even if there are zero chemicals in stock when their inventory is conducted.

 

Other areas that may need to be reviewed during a Chemical inventory or Safety Audit:

· Placarding

· Designated Substances

· CAS Numbers

· Hot-Spot Identification

· Chemicals Incompatibility reporting

· Hazardous Substances reporting

· Dangerous Goods reporting

· Radioactive materials, biological materials (or etiological agents), or controlled substances;

are maintained in separate tracking systems.

 

We do ALL the work. We keep you compliant!

 

Green Lights Environmental Logo with green globe ball and arrow        MySDS inc. logo with hexagons

Green Lights Environmental is the sister company of MySDS inc.

www.greenlightsinc.ca  |  www.mysds.ca

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What is the difference between LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT?

In short: leaders create risk, and managers reduce it.

LEADERSHIP ANTICIPATES THE BEST OUT OF PEOPLE, AND MANAGEMENT ANTICIPATES THE WORST. While leadership invites others to follow, management ensures the followers are following.

Leadership is the act of inviting others to a new and better future.  A leader inspires and creates change by casting a vision of a destination that is different, better, and achievable.

Management is the ensuring things happen by creating, communicating, and monitoring expectations.  It tracks individual people to see that they perform as expected, as opposed to inspiring a number of them. 

Leadership skills can be summarized as those skills relevant to interacting with large groups of people, and to inspiring and creating vision. Conversely, management skills are those which are relevant to interacting with individual people, and to specifying and monitoring performance.

Many of the skills required to lead people are also the ones used to manage people. However, the expression of these skills can be significantly different.  For instance, a leader needs to effectively communicate to be compelling and inspirational, and a manager needs to effectively communicate to be precise and personal.

Because of the skillset overlaps between management and leadership, it is quite possible that a single person assumes either of these roles.

 

Want to learn more about leadership?  Check out EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

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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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