Tag Archives: municipal
2022 Security Risk Budget Outlook
Moving on up
At the onset of the pandemic, Security Risk budgets decreased as organizations shuttered their doors and employees left the office, and organizations under duress looked for places to cut costs. Many found their savings in the Security budget. But now, the potential to double or triple budgets in 2022 maybe a reality.
Our research shows approximately two-thirds of security budgets increased in 2021 from 2020, but still have yet to reach or return to 2019 levels. 2022 has the potential to change that.
As organizations are set to come back to life in 2022 security risk events have not gone away. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic created new security challenges. The new challenges have yet to be solved, and as schools and businesses reopen / remain open during potential future surges, the security risks of the past return as well. In order to protect themselves from past, current, and future threats, organizations need to reinvest in physical security.
Real camera surveillance and real-time monitoring integrated with a uniformed security guard force that is properly trained may be for some organizations the order of the day. High-caliber uniforms security guards and training necessary to protect against threats to an organization cost more than $15-20 an hour. Challenges will emerge to protect your organization, your information, your IP, your personnel. All of this may lead to an explosion of security requirements, and the budget.
Another factor contributing to budget increases in 2022 is executive protection. According to the Ontic 2021 Mid-Year Outlook: State of Protective Intelligence Report, 58% of CEOs and senior leaders who expressed a stance on political issues received physical threats. Senior Public Officials and local health department leadership who encouraged health measures like vaccination or mask-wearing have also become targets of physical threats. Against the backdrop of this increased threat landscape, executive protection has grown in importance among physical security professionals.
An inner look
These aforementioned types of threats could also come from inside an organization. Leadership will either take a stand, or not take a stand. The personnel of an organization expect their leaders to take a stand, whatever that might be, for or against a particular issue or concern. Unfortunately, pent up frustration surrounding decisions may not even be pandemic related, and at times still result in leaders being threatened. In many areas of the country, threats against “leadership” is foreign territory for many organizations.
The threat landscape has always been uncertain and rapidly changing. With many advancements in approach, strategy, and technology, organizations can protect themselves with integrated security risk strategies.
As both physical and cyber threats compound, organizations are tasked with protecting themselves on all sides. With increased and realized threats there is one unfortunate downside. Higher security costs as risks to supply chains, cyber and physical security risks increase. During this pandemic many organizations have unfortunately learned that their security profile may not be or has been at a level they had hoped it to be. New gaps have been found, existing weaknesses have become even weaker and due to other impacts of the pandemic, organizations may have struggled to get the necessary supplies, purchases and even personnel in a manner to which they were once accustomed.
Identify your shortfalls, your gaps and plug the holes. A comprehensive risk assessment will assist in that process. If organizations fail to plug those holes, and as they begin to re-open even more, they unfortunately will remain or fall back into a vulnerable position.
Proactive hard work
Technology enhancements, uniformed security, executive protection, education, and plain old attentiveness and proactive behaviour towards security risks to quickly address existing and newfound challenges brought forth because of the pandemic will require increases in security budgets in 2022.
Now more than ever we need to move beyond reactive, and proactively secure our organizations.
It all simply starts with a plan.
We can Help.
Plan the Work. Work the Plan.
Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions. Visit michaelwhitegroup.com/contact/
How to Find the Budget for a Municipal Project
Have you ever received an RFP that doesn’t have any budget listed? It makes it hard to truly understand the scope of the work requested, doesn’t it?
Municipalities have their hearts in the right place, but often they throw more “wants” into an RFP than they have the budget for. When the bids come in way over their budget, they have to start the whole RFP process all over again – wasting everyone’s time.
Worst yet, those who bid the first time may not bother to submit a bid the second time around and the municipality may receive fewer bids and ultimately higher pricing.
In defense of municipalities, however, I’ve been on both sides of the argument on whether or not to include the budget for a project in an RFP.
As a CAO, I didn’t want to put the budget number in the RFP either, because I was afraid bidders would simply submit bids right up to the budget number. This is still a common misconception.
But now, experience has taught me, when bidders know the budget number, the reality is they more often submit bids lower than the budget, to try to win the work.
From the Bidders’ perspective though, it’s incredibly frustrating not knowing the budget number because you can’t accurately price the work without understanding the municipality’s expectations.
So, to connect the dots, here’s a tip for Bidders to find the budget for a municipal project.
In most cases you can, through good sleuthing, find the budget a municipality has set aside for a specific project.
- Provincial Announcements
Often when Provinces announce funding for municipalities, they will have a press release and a link to find out which municipality received what amount for specific project(s). That’s the easiest way to find the budget for a project.
- Agendas & Minutes
If the municipality received funding for the project, Council will most likely have recently passed a resolution to approve the project. By searching the municipality’s Agendas/ Minutes section of their website, you can usually find the resolution about a month or so before the RFP was issued.
Personally, I start by looking at the Agendas and searching keywords, related to whatever the RFP has been issued for. (i.e. Service Delivery Review, Parks & Rec Roof Repairs, etc.). The Agenda will help you narrow down the minutes that contain the resolution Council passed – and the resolution will normally have the dollar amount approved for the project.
If the municipality did not receive funding for the project, you may not find a resolution approving it. So, another way you can sometimes find the budget for a project is by finding the municipality’s annual budget on their website.
This is a bit harder to do if you’re not familiar with how a municipal budget looks, but look at the proposed expenditures for the current year, in the appropriate department and you may see the project noted separately in the annual budget.
For example, you would most likely find the budget for “Service Delivery Review” in the General Administration part of the budget, or “Roof Repairs” in the Parks & Recreation part of the budget, etc.
You can also check out the Special Budget Meetings of Council (again in the Agendas/Minutes section of the municipality’s website), and you may see mention of the project and how much Council wants to budget for it.
It takes time, and it’s not always easy, but in most cases, it is possible to find the budget the municipality has set aside for a project.
Happy Sleuthing Sherlock!
Contact Susan Shannon, Founder & Principal, muniSERV.ca
855.477.5095 or [email protected]
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.
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.
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 simplified bill collection, all for less than it costs to pay by debit or credit card.
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!
Grant Funding Opportunities for Canadian Municipalities
The PSD Research team will provide an overview of grant funding opportunities for Canadian municipalities on a monthly basis.
Each month we will highlight any grants with an approaching deadline and/or ongoing grant programs. Please join us to find out about grant opportunities for your municipality!
One week before each monthly grant funding webinar, the PSD policy team will update registrants on which grant applications will be covered that month.
March 12th, 2020
*NOTE* Each session date is available at 1:00pm – 1:20pm ET
Click Here to Register
A Sobering Thought – Is Your Succession Planning Underway?
How’s this for a sobering thought?
According to Statistics Canada’s – Canadian Demographics At a Glance – by the year 2030, deaths are expected to outnumber births in Canada. In addition, Statistics Canada projects that by 2021, one in four members of the labour force could be aged 55 or older.
This means there won’t be as many young workers entering the workforce – plus the current workforce is going grey as we speak. The result of these two merging factors is labour shortages in many professions Canada-wide.
Municipalities are no different. In fact it may be even more difficult for municipalities to attract youth to these roles because youth do not really understand what municipalities do or what it means to work in a municipality. It’s therefore imperative for municipalities to find ways to reach secondary and post-secondary students to educate them on the merits of a municipal career in order to attract them to becoming tomorrow’s leaders.
What is Succession Planning?
Simply put, succession planning is getting the right people with the right skills in the right roles at the right time.
In the words of one of our professional members, “Succession planning and development should be like a well- run relay race. The transitions should be smooth.” (Prism Group International, Sophie Mathewson, President & Coaching Practice Leader)
Many municipalities are proactive and have succession plans in place, but there are still many others that do not give it much thought or consideration until key personnel leave and there’s a scramble to replace them. Sadly, the exodus of one key person often sets off a domino effect that just results in another municipality needing to hunt for a replacement. Again, there’s a real need to bring youth and new candidates into the municipal stream.
For those who have not given it much thought yet, here are few things to think about as you start to develop your succession plan.
In broad terms, succession planning starts with a sound assessment process;
- Identify key areas and key positions you will be losing (number of pending retirements, which year, etc.) so you can identify future needs. Create an inventory of sorts.
- Take a look at the key competencies the incumbent has now and determine whether or not these are the same competencies you need in that position in the future.
- Create programs for pre-retirees and if they don’t already track their processes, have them start doing so.
- Assess the skills you have in-house and compare them to the skills you need in the future
- Determine if there are any interested employees in-house and assess their ability to fill any of the upcoming vacancies. Your performance management program will help with identifying if there are qualified in-house staff to fill positions.
- Match the skills and capabilities of your current employees to their career ambitions
- Identify any training needs and create customized development plans to develop talent.
- Evaluate whether or not you will need to move to an external hire and if so, set the wheels in motion to ensure that you can have the position filled by the expected vacancy date.
- Monitor and measure success.
Don’t forget that using early retirees from the municipal world and municipal consultants can also form part of your succession plan. These experienced veterans can often get you past the hump until you can find permanent employees. They can also be utilized to mentor your new hires and they can pass the relay race baton of knowledge and experience on to tomorrow’s leaders.
The competition to replace retirees and fill vacant positions will no doubt be challenging over the next decade but by initiating a sound assessment process today you will be well on your way to having the right talent in the right positions by 2021!
Susan Shannon is the Founder & Principal of muniSERV.ca and muniJOBS.ca
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;
- Willingness to learn on the job
- Systems thinking
- Relationship building and
- 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.
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
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
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.
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]
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?
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.
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.
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.