Why You Should Become an Asset Management Coordinator

Asset Management Coordinator – have you heard this of this career before?  

Well, if you haven’t, you’re about to hear a lot about it from municipalities over the next little while.  

Many municipalities are facing challenges to fund their infrastructure at levels that ensure their sustainability. With ageing assets, increased renewal needs and pressures from changing climate there is a need to do things differently and collaborate to address the “infrastructure gap”.

The end goal is for municipalities, provinces, and the federal government to leverage asset management planning to optimize infrastructure investment decisions. For example, in December 2017, the Province of Ontario passed O.Reg 588/2017 that sets out new requirements for asset management planning for municipalities.  

This makes the need to hire Asset Managers and/or Asset Management Coordinators, even more important and urgent. Therefore this is a rapidly growing and expanding career in Canadian municipalities.

So what is asset management and why do municipalities need an Asset Management Coordinator?

 

What is Asset Management?

 

Asset management refers to the systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for, over their whole life cycles. It may apply both to tangible assets and to intangible assets. Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner.

 

What kind of background and training do I need to have for this career?  

 

Many asset managers have engineering, finance and/or planning backgrounds but another key criterion is Project Management, as addressed in a recent Public Sector Digest webinar, “Hiring an Asset Management Coordinator”, sponsored by muniSERV/muniJOBS, as being integral to the success of someone looking to enter this career. 

Municipalities reported that core competencies should be there but much more important is that you can tell them how you’d add value to the position. Because this is an emerging field, you have a great deal of liberty to build the position as you go.  Articulate it in your cover letter. You may not have all the skills right now but if you’re willing to learn, municipalities are willing to provide you with the right training to do the job.

Top skills reported are;

  1. Willingness to learn on the job
  2. Systems thinking
  3. Relationship building and
  4. Communications skills.

 

At present, there are no courses available at universities, although, the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association of Ontario (MFOA)and Public Sector Digest can help.

For municipalities looking for an Asset Manager or Coordinator, muniJOBS has some candidates with Asset Management listed as one of their skills. To search candidates, simply register for a free Employer profile.

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The Power of Video: Marketing YOURSELF!

 

muniSERV knows how important it is to get your message out to municipalities and municipal employers, and this includes videos! We’re letting you upload a video to your muniSERV profile and your Candidates’ Profile on muniJOBS, which lets you showcase you, your personality and why you’re a great fit! Let’s look at some of the best ways to get you looking and sounding your best.

Use a tripod

tripod

 

Tripods are important and inexpensive! They’ll keep your camera steady and you perfectly in the frame. Shaky, poorly framed videos will always appear less professional than a nicely framed, steady profile! Tripods are cheap, little tools that manage to increase the value of your shot exponentially.

 

 

Write it out first

 

Don’t just turn on the camera and improvise! Write everything out first. Read it back, listen to yourself and listen for anything you want to change. Practice it a few times by yourself – make it sound looser, fluid and more conversational. You don’t want it to sound like you’re just reading a script. You want to sound comfortable and confident, as opposed to stiff and awkward.

 

Be in the right setting

 

desk

Videos are visual, remember! It’s not just you that’s being shown off, it’s everything around you, too. The surroundings are reflective of you, as this is a clear window who you are. Messy rooms, background noise or pets running around causing trouble in the frame can cost you big. This is a video that you have complete control over. You can always do another take if the cat comes in and knocks over a book on your desk.

 

Keep the editing simple

 

This is for professional use, not a high school art film. If your video is of just you talking to the camera, intro with a fade in from black and end with a fade to black. Steer clear of the star wipes and excessive overlay animations. If the video is shorter in length
(around two to four minutes), try to get it done in one take to avoid cutting and pasting different sections of each take, causing distracting jump cuts and removing the confidence of the viewer in your skills to present yourself in a collected manner.

Subtitles

 

In what seems like a surprising addition to the list, subtitles are becoming more and more important. According to Digiday, 85% of videos are viewed with the volume off. Beyond this, subtitles ensure that your messages are conveyed clearly to everyone, as the words are printed right there. Those who are hard of hearing have a visual, and those who might still struggle with English can be sure about the content.

Videos are incredible tools that we’re all able to use with the prevalence of cameras in our smartphones. The days of grainy, choppy webcam footage are long gone. Utilizing this tool to its fullest potential in both your professional profile on muniSERV and in your Candidate’s profile on muniJOBS can really showcase the product or service you’re trying to deliver to municipal decision-makers, and what an asset you are to a future municipal employer. It’s their chance to really get to know you before you even realize it. If you want to get your video featured in the muniSERV newsletter, email us at [email protected]

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The Ontario Regional Government Review and How It Affects You

A lot has changed since the mid-1970s. That’s how long it has been since Ontario’s regional municipalities were established. Since then populations have grown, infrastructure needs have greatly changed and your tax dollars are being stretched further than ever. That’s why the province is reviewing the governance, decision-making, and service delivery functions of 8 regional municipalities and Simcoe County in their current Regional Government Review. Find out more about the review, the municipalities that are covered and how you can have your say in the process.

 

Who is Involved?

Led by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ontario government is reviewing 8 regional municipalities (Durham, Halton, Muskoka District, Niagara, Oxford County, Peel, Waterloo, York), Simcoe County, and their lower-tier municipalities. In total, 82 upper and lower-tier municipalities are included in the review. The review is led by Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark with 2 special advisors appointed as an advisory body to help with this review, Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn. The special advisors will be out in the communities and available for discussions with appointed and elected officials, concerned parties and local citizens.

 

What is Being Reviewed?

The main focus of the review is to help ensure that these municipalities are working effectively and efficiently, and can continue to provide the vital services that communities depend on.

The review aims to create efficient and effective governance, decision-making and service delivery throughout the province. As municipalities grow and evolve, so do their specific needs. There will be obvious financial concerns, from the allocation of service responsibilities to identifying opportunities for cost-saving measures. The existing governing model will be reviewed to make sure that the distribution and election/appointment of councillors properly represents residents. The decision-making process will also be under scrutiny at all levels.

 

How Can You Have Your Say?

The province of Ontario is looking for input from the people who live, work and spend time in the municipalities covered by the review. Residents, businesses and municipal partners are all invited to share their thoughts on what is working well and what they feel can be improved or streamlined. The deadline to complete the online survey is April 23, 2019. Written submissions can also be sent via email or by Canada Post. Further details, submission guidelines and privacy policy can be found here

 

When Will Changes Be Seen?

Findings from the public consultation, as well as recommendations from the advisors, are expected early this summer. Individual municipalities could start seeing changes in the following months.

 

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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.

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Top 4 Considerations to Save Money When Improving Citizen Services

By checking your own internal bias you stand a better chance of Finding the best solution

We all want to better our citizens’ services but, when pursuing this goal, what can we do to ensure we are spending the right amount of money on the right plan?  The only way is to look at your citizens, your goals and what you currently have to achieve the right balance between spend and results.

Here are four areas you should consider to make sure you are getting the most for your money.

1.       Understand first. 

·         When creating any plan, the first action should be to understand the needs and wants of your target.  Not all people will have the same issues as you. The only way to know is to ask your citizens, listen intently and believe them. This is particularly true when you think you have solved certain issues already.

·         In modern agile technology development, the practice is to rely on the” voice of the customer”. This is to ensure when the product is complete it meets the needs expressed by the potential buyer.  The same is true in finding the best solution for your citizens.

·         Remind yourself that you are not the citizen. Assume that you do not really know anything about your citizens’ needs. This way you will not try to prove your bias right or dismiss some expressed citizen needs as “not important” or “already solved”.

2.       Look at what you have today.

·         Look at the processes you have today that are at the heart of any of the issues identified by your citizens (e.g. a citizen is not notified when an issue is fixed – perhaps because a work order is lost after a job is completed so there is no record of it being closed).  Ask yourself what vehicles, tools, and processes you are using to meet your “citizen service goals”.

·         Are you using your website to get information out?  Do you have posters in community gathering spaces? Do you have a section every week in the local paper? Do you have a CiRM or a spreadsheet to track issues?  Do you have a written policy that helps all staff to address citizen issues quickly?  Do any of these create or solve the issue expressed by your citizens? These types of questions are key to success.

 

3.       List all potential solutions.

·         Improving citizen services may not require buying new hardware or software and spending a bundle on installation and configuration.  A successful solution, regardless of how great it is, may very well need to be coupled with bettering an internal process. Or maybe it is a simple matter of increasing the awareness of your website or creating posters to inform citizens about how you do things and why.  It might also be possible to improve services by repurposing technologies that you already have in hand (e.g. using your CRM in a unique way or changing access permissions so more people can answer the questions posed by citizens).

·         Listing solutions should not be an excuse to try to make current software do things it was not meant to do. Look at the process you want to have first then find the solution that best fits it.

·         Do not be afraid to look at human resource factors.  Maybe the answer is to better train staff in citizen resolution or conflict management (customer service skills). Maybe you need to ensure that all staff members know your policies and how they should be implemented.

4.       Consider technology solutions by task, not product name.

·         List your “service goals” and rate the importance of each of one. The best way is to break down your list into the following columns: “must have”, “good to have” and “nice to have”.

·         If you think that technology might solve some of the issues, list only the “service goals” you want your software to address, i.e. not what features or what brand will be the best solution.

·         Remember the technology may not need to be citizen facing to increase satisfaction. It might just enable an improvement in your processes to offer better, faster and more reliable citizen services.

If you consider these four areas, you will likely find a solution with that best fits your budget, and that will have the largest impact on your citizens.  By checking your own internal bias, you stand a better chance of making sure the right process, tracking and communication methods (internal or external) are part of your change, and the costs may well be less than you thought.

At AccessE11 we understand that paper systems and endless email chains are not productive when it comes to citizen services and support. There are too many opportunities for an issue to fall through the cracks, or for delays in responses to issues.

We promote instilling processes that make sense and that are easy to adopt so that everyone in the municipality can become a citizen support expert.  Please visit us at www.accesse11.com to find out more.

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Small to mid-sized municipal guide to digital government and citizen satisfaction

by: Brad Pinch Director Of Municipal Needs – AccessE11

Citizen Relationship

In small municipalities, we hear a lot about digital government and citizen experiences. We often think this is a question whose answer is just to buy the latest software and hardware.

A  recent study done by PWC has once again re-enforced the principle that digital service channels improve the overall satisfaction of citizens. I don’t think that is surprising to most of us. However, before we all run out and start spending thousands of dollars building state-of-the-art citizen applications, e-commerce solutions or internal databases with portals for citizens, we should first ensure we understand why citizens are more satisfied when they have access to digital service channels. To do that we need to understand the specific problems faced by citizens that lead to a sense of dissatisfaction. Is a citizen facing technology sufficient to address their issues?

The studies of citizens (customers) indicate satisfaction is a product of actions that are evaluated on an emotional level.

Here is a brief summary of emotional needs that affect citizen satisfaction.

  1. Empowerment – The citizen needs to feel that every part of an interaction is centered on them (customer-centric services). This speaks to our ability to provide fast/timely services, setting realistic expectations and providing a defined structure that any interaction will follow to ensure a timely and appropriate outcome.
  2. Personalization–  Citizen’s should not perceive that they are being provided a “one-size-fits-all” approach to their interaction. Any process needs to adapt to the individual and their specific circumstances. This is achieved by providing different resolution paths, empowering staff to solve simple issues on their own (one and done) and providing choices which can make the system feel more tailored. The result is a citizen who feels valued as an individual.
  3. Multi-channel experience– Citizens want to engage with any staff or any department using the method of communication they desire regardless of the request. By funneling all inputs into a centralized system (one that all staff can see) via multichannel options (phone, voice mail, walk-in email, and web) staff and departments can ensure there are “no wrong doors” when it comes to logging or looking for solutions. This way you remove the need for the citizen to navigate your organization to get help.
  4. Transparency– We often talk about transparency in government with regard to visibility into how tax dollars are (or will be) spent. However, for citizens, transparency must also include access to information on their specific issues, timely updates on activities that impact their individual concerns, a clear and consistent understanding of the processes and policies that apply, and being able to obtain the information they desire without needing to make a complicated request.

Citizens of smaller municipalities have the same service expectations that are available to those living in larger cities.  With the right set of tools and best practices, this can often be achieved with a budget and staffing levels consistent with smaller organizational resources.  By keeping things simple and focusing on the unique needs of your citizens, delivering on high service levels does not need to cost a lot.

For More Articles of interest for Municipalities please visit Insight E11 at AccessE11.com

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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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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.

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