Municipal Work Opportunities for Our Professional Members!

Ontario Supports Modernization of Small and Rural Municipalities

The Ontario government is providing up to $24 million to support the modernization of 224 small and rural municipalities across the province. This investment will help improve the delivery of critical programs and services that people rely on every day, while saving taxpayers’ dollars.

A total of 254 projects have been approved for funding under Intake 2 of Ontario’s Municipal Modernization Program. Municipalities will use the funding to find efficiencies and implement a wide range of initiatives to digitize, streamline and/or integrate programs and services with neighbouring communities.

The funding will help municipalities administer the cost savings measures in time for the 2022 municipal budget cycle.

Here’s the List of Municipalities who received funding for various Municipal Service Delivery & Efficiency Projects.

If you offer any of the services these municipalities are looking for, select the municipality you would like to work with and watch their websites for RFPs for any Third-Party Review or Implementation opportunities.  You might also want to watch muniSERV’s Find RFP’s section and/or bidsandtenders listings.

For more information on the Municipal Modernization Program and the June 30th announcement, click here.

Share

Considering a SaaS Platform for Citizen Request Management? Here are Some Key Questions to Ask

Local governments are continually looking for ways to streamline their operations. But with increasing citizen demands for more modern and accessible digital services, along with limited and declining budgets, bridging all of these needs can be a challenge. A growing number of municipalities are moving to manage these challenges by adopting Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms for core operating functions.

In this article, we take a look at some of the key things to consider when selecting a SaaS solution specifically to underpin your citizen request management process.

Does the Service align well with your operational needs?

The answer to this question obviously needs to be a resounding yes, however when evaluating cloud-based citizen request management solutions it is critical to start with a clear understanding of what your true needs are – both immediate and longer term. First and foremost, preferred solutions should be designed from the ground up with the needs of local governments in mind for the best chance of a successful implementation. Where not the case, adaptation to your process requirements will likely be more difficult and prone to failure. Be equally wary of solutions that offer feature functionality that you can’t or won’t actually use as this will normally drive unnecessary cost, and also lead to sub-optimal usability and poorer uptake by staff. To fully benefit from the cost savings promised by moving to the cloud, also look for solutions that include tools that can be used by trained administrators within your organization to configure and customize the SaaS solution to your specific requirements without costly custom software development.

What considerations exist to keep the citizen fully engaged in the Service Request Management process?

In all aspects of local government operations, citizen engagement as a strategy to create better and more livable communities is seeing increased emphasis. Yet too often citizen involvement in the service request management process takes a back seat to internal tracking against the municipal assets that the requests relate to. Solutions that keep citizens at the forefront will leave them feeling well served and more compelled to contribute to the process. For example, a well-designed citizen request management platform should support multiple channels for the purpose of accepting requests so that citizens can interact how and when it works for them. Solutions should also be mobile friendly, automate communications for real-time status updates, respect WCAG guidelines for accessibility, and include on-line capabilities for citizens to view and comment on the requests they raise.

What do the SaaS vendor’s track record and reputation look like?

As is the case with any product or service purchase, an understanding of a vendor’s previous experience is a great leading indicator or whether their offer is right for you. When it comes to citizen issue tracking, look for companies that have been around for several years and that can demonstrate success with local governments having similar operations to your own. Speaking directly with appropriate reference customers should be a given. Credible software review sites like G2 and Capterra are also highly useful to gauge customer experience and success and to compare the different options that are available to you.

What happens to my pre-existing data?

If you are currently using an on-premise system for citizen service requests or have other sources of data that you have invested in over time, it is worth understanding the potential and ease with which this data can be preserved. Ideal solutions will provide administrative tools to simplify the data import process. And where source data needs to be cleaned or transformed to make this possible, your SaaS solution vendor should be able to provide professional services expertise to support required ETL efforts.

Can I take a graduated approach to switching over?

Setting aside the many benefits of a cloud-based solution, new technology will always involve change for your staff and, for this reason alone, you might be interested in starting small and evolving the use of the new platform over time. For managing citizen service requests, solutions that you consider should easily support adoption by a single department or limited number of users in parallel to other departments continuing with existing processes. This can reduce risk, provide an opportunity for user feedback and help to validate the business case for other departments.

What assurances can the vendor provide regarding security, performance and resiliency?

Continuity of your operations and security of your data are critical considerations, and a cloud approach necessarily involves placing trust in your selected vendor to have these in hand. For vendors with any significant customer base, the good news is that these requirements should have received a lot of attention and certified experts will likely have been involved in architecting and securing the hosting environment. But given the nature of citizen request data, you will want to make sure that an acceptable privacy policy exists and that handling of personally identifiable information is understood. It is also important to know what safeguards exist against DDOS attacks or other malicious behaviours, and whether redundancy exists for high availability and disaster recovery purposes. And finally, you will want to ask questions about data backup procedures that are in place, including frequency and location.

How well is integration with other systems supported?

If you find yourself in a position where you need to integrate the citizen request solution with other back-office systems, ask how these integrations can be supported for your unique use case. The principal needs are for the vendor to provide open APIs that allow for secure data exchange between systems, along with professional services to support these efforts. If a vendor has created pre-built connections to leading application integration hubs like Zapier even better as this could greatly reduce the effort and cost involved.

What onboarding, training and support resources are provided?

No evaluation would be complete without gaining a high-level of confidence that onboarding will go smoothly and that your vendor will be there to support your success with the selected citizen request management platform over the long term. Mature vendors will employ a customer experience team and provide a proven process to get you up and running quickly, train your administrative personnel and end users, and guide you through branding and configuring the solution to meet your specific needs. Also look for a searchable online knowledge base where answers to common questions can be found, and a robust and responsive ticketing process for situations where additional vendor expertise is needed.

What are the details of the pricing model?

A clear benefit of moving to the cloud is that it avoids any upfront CAPEX spend when municipal budgets are tight, however the SaaS solution that is right for you should result in lower total cost of ownership over the long term. Costs for available citizen request management solutions are highly variable so, first and foremost, look for a service that is priced right for the operating scale of your municipality. Depending on the simplicity of the pricing model, costs may vary based on metrics like user counts, data storage requirements, transaction volumes or number of modules included. As discussed above, your use of the platform could very well expand over time and any potential price increases should be easy to understand and reasonable.

Share

More Speakers for the Leadership Series – Public Sector

WHAT’S NEW: NEW SPEAKER ALERT – Leadership Series: Public Sector

ANNOUNCING KEYNOTE ADDRESS FROM FRANK P. ROCHON – CEO, SUPPLY ONTARIO AND INTRODUCING NEW SPEAKERS

Topics on the agenda include:

  • Procurement’s Influence on Organizational Effectiveness
  • How have Government Agencies Dealt and Learnt from COVID: Improving Citizen Experience
  • Sustainable Procurement
  • Sustainable Goods Movement
  • Impact of Trade Agreements/Trade Agreements in a COVID world

Please see the full description of the Event Here

Date and Time: June 17, 2021 8:30 am to 4:00 pm EST
CPD: 5 CPD Points
Price: Member: $149 + HST | Non – member: $199 + HST | muniSERV Members get 12% off non-member price with code MUNI12 – Group (4 or more): $99 pp + HST. SAVE UP TO 50% (note – the muniSERV discount cannot be bundled with the group offer)

REGISTER HERE

FORWARD TO A COLLEAGUE

Interested in sponsoring this event with your branding – or if you want more information, please contact Tanaya Jain at [email protected]a.com or +1 416.977.7566 Ext. 2142.

Share

Negotiating Like a Lawyer

I don’t like going to the doctor’s office. Part of the reason is because my doctor also happens to be a good friend of mine and I already see him enough on the golf course, squash courts and playing pick-up hockey

 

But I mostly avoid doctors visits because I hate being poked and prodded. So to make my doctor’s visits as quick and painless as possible, when I do have to go see him I give him as much context as I can about the reason for my visit. This gets him to focus on my problem and limits the amount poking and prodding 

 

I also don’t like getting poked and prodded in a lawyer’s office

 

Most of us that work for organizations that have a legal department which reviews the contracts we’re negotiating and the amount of changes to a contract, especially if the edits are to our standard agreement, usually determines the extent of the legal review

 

So just like the doctor’s visit, I make sure to provide our lawyers with as much context as I can so they can focus on the issues and not have to go through the entire agreement with a fine toothed comb

 

Now there are some lawyers that, no matter how much context you give them, they’re going to read the whole contract and that’s ok, it’s their prerogative. However, most lawyers I’ve worked with actually appreciate the extra effort I’ve put in to make their lives a little easier

 

But there’s another thing you can do before you even send the contract to legal for review and unfortunately, I don’t see enough negotiators doing this so spoiler alert… it’s actually ok for you to negotiate the legal terms in a contract on behalf of your organization, as long as you remember 3 things:

 

  1. Make sure you actually understand the legal terms before arbitrarily rejecting the other sides edits
  2. Make it clear that all changes will still require final legal review and sign-off…and the trick here is to only negotiate in the areas where you have a really good sense of your lawyers threshold of acceptability
  3. If you’re working off your paper, try to eliminate as many changes as you can from the other side

 

I was helping a client not too long ago who wanted to start discussions with a new supplier so they sent them an NDA to sign and the supplier came back with some edits. But before my client sent it off to his legal department for review, I asked if I could take a look at the changes first

 

The supplier had made five changes to the NDA. Four of the changes were to de-risk any liability they’d have if they breached confidentiality and one was a legitimate concern about their IP

 

So we went back to the supplier and said we understood the IP concerns but the other four changes would make it impossible for us to do business with them. Within 10 minutes the sales executive responded that he’d had a “quick chat” with his lawyers and we could disregard those 4 changes but they would like to see some compromise on the IP

 

When my client sent the changes to legal, he provided all of this context and legal approved the change in a few hours, which is nothing short of a miracle in most organizations

 

So the big takeaway here is that if you fancy yourself as a negotiator, then be a negotiator. Don’t just throw your contracts over to legal to sort out…and if you don’t know something, learn.

 

I recently developed and launched a training course with my colleague, Mark Morrissey, which covers this and other topics that are essential for Strategic Sourcing Professionals.

 

Most of you have a training budget this year and you could do a lot worse than seeing what we have to offer, so check out the training section on our website and let me know if you would like more information about our corporate group pricing

 

Mohammed Faridy

Chief Executive Officer

OneView 1450 Meyerside Drive Suite 603 Mississauga, ON L5T 2N5

E-mail: [email protected] I Cell: 416-917-2410

 

 

 

Share

Feedback is the key to Engagement

We live and work in an age where feedback is necessary to secure employee engagement.  Study after study demonstrate up to 68% of the American workforce is disengaged.  Approximately 50% are unengaged and an incredible 17% are actively disengaged.[1]   Yikes.

Disengagement means lower levels of productivity, less revenue and higher incidents of weaker culture.  As noted by Gallup: Organizations with higher rates of “…engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability.”[2]

Disengagement is an illness that spreads rapidly when tolerated or left unaddressed. 

Why?  Several reasons:

1.   People that “pick up the slack” and generate the work product compensating for the lack of production by the disengaged feel underappreciated.  These employees are, essentially, punished for others being disengaged.  Employees who make up for the productivity of their disengaged colleagues eventually get frustrated and, not altogether unsurprisingly, tend to leave their employer.  Losing disengaged people is one thing, losing hard-working, go-getters is unacceptable for any organization;

2.   Disengaged employees are permitted to continue such disengagement – thus, repeating a vicious cycle where such behavior is encouraged if not altogether promoted.  Obviously, no organization wants to see this happen and yet it does. (As discussed above, such behavior requires the engaged workforce to over-work and drives up rates of attrition); and

3.   Management and ownership experience increasing levels of frustration, anxiety and concern over lower productivity, less revenue and higher levels of attrition.  81% of companies report turnover is a “costly problem” and 63% say retaining employees is actually more difficult than hiring people.[3]

How can ownership stem the tide?  How does an organization encourage and develop engagement?

One, simple word.

Feedback.  Gather feedback.  Analyze feedback.  Appreciate feedback.  Employ feedback to make more effective and objective decisions.

Feedback falls into three general categories – positive, negative and somewhere in between (often referred to as “constructive criticism”).  Management and ownership might not like all the feedback (especially the negative) received, but the process of gathering, analyzing and utilizing feedback helps strengthen culture within the workplace and improve rates of engagement.

A word of caution – if an organization is going through the valuable exercise of gathering meaningful feedback from their people, the organization must use it.  It is also important to gather enough feedback to make it statistically relevant (no need to act immediately after first gathering feedback).  When trends are identified in a given employee’s conduct and interaction with, or net impact on, others on a team or organization-wide level, action must be taken by management.

For an organization to preach the importance of feedback, stress participation in gathering feedback and then do nothing with the data collected can be more damaging than not caring about feedback at all.

Gathering and using feedback effectively can change the face of any organization.  Ripple Analytics Inc. is a cloud-based platform that empowers companies to gather and analyze feedback from their people.  Check us out at www.ripplecrew.com.  Give us a try!

 

Why we are qualified to write the blog:   Noah L. Pusey – [email protected] – is the President & CEO of Ripple Analytics Inc.   For over twenty (20) years, Noah has been building teams and developing employees at various companies.  As a result, he has participated in corporate America’s flawed annual review process and has set out to fix it.  He knows what works, what doesn’t and why.  See more about Ripple at www.ripplecrew.com.

Share

Part 3 – How much Space is enough?

girls with masks beside each other

How much Space is enough?

It was hot and humid day in Bujumbura, Burundi.

The mini-bus was loaded and we were ready to drive to our destination in Ijenda. 

To our surprise the bus stopped to pick up some more passengers even before we left the city. The air in the bus got warmer as we crowded together.

We continued our trip upcountry.

Over the next few hours the bus made multiple stops. More people got on, but nobody stepped off.

We were amazed how many passengers managed to squeeze into that bus before we arrived at our destination. The bus was way beyond fully loaded. The closeness cramped our North American sense of personal space.

Growing up, we all learn about appropriate physical space.

COVID-19 has expanded our personal space even more.  Two meters is the new normal. This brings new challenges.

With Social Distancing policies in public areas we have lost what is called Personal Distance Space.  Generally, the North American sense of space suggests the following rules apply:

    Intimate Distance (touching to 45cm)

    Personal Distance (45cm to 1.2m)

    Social Distance (1.2m to 3.6m)

    Public Distance (3.7m to 4.5m)

Previously we would have conversations in public within the Personal Distance Space.There are some key reasons this is such a vital space. Here we can better hear the other person, pick up expressions and notice their eye movements in more detail. The use of handshaking was a way of appropriately entering into this Personal Distance Space in order to initiate a more personal connection.

Here are two key concerns to be aware of in the present reality:

Without the handshake we need to establish a connection without entering the Personal Distance Space.

Increased distance and masks are making it difficult to pick up the nuances of what the other person is communicating. This means we will need to ask more questions.

Listening has become more important with the loss of the visual cues.

Since public speakers are even further removed from their audiences they need to adjust in a number of ways. It may be necessary to adapt some of these techniques in order to communicate across the gap. For example:

            – our gestures may need to be more pronounced

            – be aware that our words don’t have the supporting facial expressions

            – speak more clearly, watch our tone and increase volume

            – appropriate eye contact is going to be essential

            – be more patient with each other, as we are learning to communicate in a new way

By the way, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The atmosphere on the bus was positive and people were enjoying themselves.

This is a reminder that it is possible to adjust to new spaces and still communicate effectively if we have the right attitude and skills.

Is your team being challenged by social distancing?

If you want to improve your communication and presentation skills, let’s talk.

We offer great team building workshops to improve your communication.

Eduardo Heinrichs

[email protected]

 

 

 

Share

The Communication Advantage Part 2

2 men talking

Have you ever heard the words, “Watch your tone!”?

Are you sending the right message?

Are people hearing what you mean to say or are they only hearing how you say it?

In our last blog we looked at how our facial expressions communicate. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/working-improving-your-communication-watch-what-you-dont-ed-heinrichs/)

In this article we will look at Paralinguistics and how they can help or hinder our communication.

 

Pitch: Does your voice tend to go up if you are nervous or angry? You can develop the ability to control the pitch of your voice to maximize effective communication.

Each of us are able to speak within a vocal range, and vary the pitch. This ranges from the higher, nasal tones to the richer resonant tones that come from within the chest. Many studies indicate that speaking from the lower range instills greater confidence in the listener.

Pace: Are you speaking at a reasonable rate or does it sound rushed? Are you slowing down or
pausing at appropriate points in your presentation? Reserving the increased pace to bring additional
energy and suggest passion will enhance your speech.

Are you intentionally adding moments of silence? These pauses can be as powerful as the
words spoken. Think of the rests between the notes in a piece of music.

Volume: What do we do when someone whispers? We instinctively lean in to hear what is being
said. A whisper can be amazingly powerful since it connotes a secret or special knowledge.
How can you use this as a way to draw in the audience?

Timbre: Timbre refers to the quality of the sound as it is perceived by the listener. It is often
used to describe musical instruments and is distinct from pitch or volume. As an example, compare
Kermit the Frog’s voice to the voice of Morgan Freeman.

Are you using ‘upspeak’ and is it undermining your communication? Raising the voice at the end
of a sentence can transform a statement into a question.

The Power of Prosody! This is the application of all these elements into engaging and effective
communication. Dreary dull, unvaried or monotonous delivery of what could be great content is
going to effectively undermine the entire presentation. A varied, energetic tone can serve to effectively
help communicate ideas.

Remember when you were told to “Watch your tone!”? Those are words worth paying attention to.
What is the next right step in your ascent toward your communication advantage?

We are here to help you succeed.

NB: For a more in-depth consideration of this topic check out:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-paralinguistic-cues-can-help-you-to-persuade2/

Share

What is Virtual “Just-in-Time Learning”?

Virtual “Just-in-Time Learning “Training

Virtual Just-in-Time Learning is a new, timely training approach – especially during these challenging COVID-19 times.

Whether an employee is working on the road, at home, or at the office, each municipal employee can access “Just-in-Time” Learning training from a computer or their smart phone whenever they feel compelled to acquire the training.

This training approach provides municipal employees on-demand, flexible, agile training that enables them to acquire need-related training exactly when they need that training’s information.

It is a virtual training approach which closely aligns with today’s knowledge-driven, speed-oriented world where people want “just in time” information quickly.

Since there is no one right time to provide a group of municipal employees training on a topic, the resourcefulness of virtual Just-in-Time Learning will be appreciated by municipal employees since it provide them in-the-moment, relevant, real-time training exactly when they need that training.

Also, having experienced a need for that real-time training, they will likely retain the training longer.

The topics of this training approach are delivered in modules. Not only can employees initially learn the module’s training, they can also revisit a module, or a section of a module, time and time again, for tips, solutions, and training reinforcement.

Virtual Just-in-Time Learning also enhances a municipal employee’s productivity by providing them real-time performance support when they are experiencing a situation calling for that municipal support.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please check out my profile and/or contact me:

Bill Dennis, 

CEO and President,                                                                                                                      

Cultural & Generational Training                                                                                            https://crossculturalconnecting.com

 

 

 

 

Share

COVID and Communication Challenges

two girls talking - facial expressions

Watch what you don’t say.

 

I have heard people talk about ‘finding their voice.” But, what do you do if you can’t use words?

 

It was 2 a.m. and we had just arrived at the Bangkok, Thailand airport. We needed to find a cab to our hotel. We discovered how dependent we were on words to communicate. At the same time, we realized the power of gestures and facial expressions. While words are an important part of communication, there is great value in understanding how rich our communication systems are.

 

We generally think of communication in two categories -verbal and nonverbal. We are very aware of verbal communication, but did you know that there are at least nine distinct categories of nonverbal communication? We try to choose our words carefully, but might be unaware of our nonverbal signals, and yet, these speak loudly to our listeners.

 

Each one plays a major role in your presentations, speeches, and general communication. This is an important part of Emotional Wisdom and becomes a powerful part of communication.

 

In a series of upcoming posts, we will look at these categories in more detail. Here is the first

category and some comments on how this might help or hinder your communication:

 

Facial Expressions

This is probably the most easily recognized of the nonverbal communication categories. Within this category are over twenty distinct expressions. It is also helpful to know that many facial expressions are universal in nature. This makes it possible to understand across linguistic boundaries. Facial expressions are responsible for a large part of nonverbal communication. The look on a person’s face is often the first thing we see, even before we hear what they have to say.

 

The challenge with wearing masks is that we lose about 50% of what is being communicated through facial expressions. Due to the design of the human eye, we can easily identify precisely where people are looking.

 

Watch an audience as you are being introduced. The eyes of the audience will shift. They are watching you before you arrive at the podium. Your facial expressions, body language, and general posture are already communicating to the audience before you speak a word.

 

Watch what you don’t say.

 

By the way, we did arrive at our hotel…eventually.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about how to increase your effectiveness as a communicator,

presenter or public speaker let us know.  We are here to help you succeed.

 

Learn more about Enrich Services

Share

Covid 19 – Federal Funding for Municipal Solutions

The Covid 19 pandemic is creating a massive strain on resources in communities across Canada. Human service solutions in education, justice, social and health were never designed to take on this much for so long. Canadian municipalities are making adjustments to accommodate the surge in demand and the ever changing needs of their community. 

 

Some of our communities are now in the red zone creating the need for further restrictions. Federal, provincial and municipal governments are responding with additional funding and co-operation to help reduce the damage and improve the outcomes in less time. 

 

On August 13 2020, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced the creation of the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative with up to $31 million ($19M 2020-21 & $12M 2021-22) in federal funding to support community-led solutions that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years.The demands placed on families and individuals by COVID-19 have exposed a real need for low-cost, locally-driven ideas to help communities adapt and thrive. The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help breathe life into these small projects that can have a big impact as local governments, Indigenous communities and their non-profit partners rethink public spaces and how they deliver services to people.”

 

While Infrastructure Canada (INFC) is providing the funding, there is another organization yet to be announced that will organize, evaluate and distribute funding based on your proposal. This announcement will be made shortly. Your municipality will be able to submit a Covid 19 related infrastructure proposal that is between $5,000-$250,000. Three focus areas are: digital solutions, improved mobility solutions and safe and vibrant public spaces. 

 

A community project that develops infrastructure -related solutions to address changing community needs through the use of data and connected technologies starts with the ability to understand who is affected, what is being delivered and what needs to be done with priority. Measuring outcomes and sharing this information in a secure way becomes the source of truth for social service, health, justice and education partners that are focused on helping those most affected by Covid 19. Any municipality working to solve these complex and rapidly evolving stress points without a case management solution will have overlapping solutions that cost more than required and fail to see the gaps, reducing the outcomes. When you have time and budget, municipalities will continue to manage human services in a way that offers a path with least resistance. 

 

Covid 19 has exhausted both time and budget. Human services in your community need to work together efficiently. Working to save lives today and preparing for the future depends on it. Athena Software is a Canadian company that has experience working with every level of government in 15 countries around the world helping them find a way to do more with less and get better outcomes. Let me know if you would like to see how this can work for your community. 

Learn more: Athena Software

Share