Archive for the "News" Category

Surviving Amalgamation: The Value of the Deep-Dive

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by admin

Amalgamation is a messy business. Whether it’s at Council, agency, division or team level, bringing people together under a new structure and expecting them to continue delivering business as usual is a big ask. Often, teams and functions are thrown together with little consideration for the differences in how they have historically operated – their distinct procedures, processes and systems. The results, unsurprisingly, are not good.

So how do you prevent the wheels from falling off?
The key to seamless amalgamation is laying the groundwork. This means understanding how things are done now and using this as a starting point to think about how they should be done in the new environment. Fyusion has developed an approach which allows organisations to build a sound understanding of their teams’ current practices and environments in order to pre-empt and mitigate the issues arising from centralisation of functions. We call this the Deep Dive.

What is the Fyusion Deep Dive?
The Deep Dive is essentially a participative process based on comprehensive research and consultation with staff and stakeholders within the organisation. It is ideally undertaken before the amalgamation, to understand the ‘as is’ state and to successfully transition to the new environment. The purpose of this process is to directly engage with as wide a pool of staff and stakeholders as possible in the project in order to obtain a thorough understanding of the current structure, environment, roles and responsibilities, processes, key challenges and issues, pain points and opportunities. In other words, to understand how things are currently done and why, and to form a basis for considering how things could be done more efficiently and effectively in the new world. This understanding then informs any subsequent project stages, including the design of solutions, new processes and implementation.

Why do you need to understand the past when you are moving into the future?
A trap many organisations fall into during amalgamation is that they are so focused on the future they don’t want to reflect on the past.  In theory this sounds sensible, but in practice it can be deadly. Without a detailed understanding of past processes and practices, it is impossible to know what is possible and achievable in the future.  Most of the time the decision to amalgamate is based on the need to achieve efficiencies of resourcing and processes – but you need to understand the past to achieve these benefits. Too often, workflows are crunched together in amalgamations without an understanding of their similarities and differences, resulting in processes that are more cumbersome and resource-intensive than they were originally. The devil really is in the detail!

If your organisation is facing amalgamation or attempting to adjust to a restructure, consider the value of the Deep Dive. The more you know about where you are now, the smoother the road into the future.

The Vomit Principle (or how to implement significant change)

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by admin

For each and every organisation going through significant change, communication is critical to the success of implementation. In theory this sounds simple – but in practice, getting messages through at a time when there is a high level of anxiety and upheaval is not always easy. In the context of a significant organisational restructure, for example, shock at the level of change can cause many people to simply stop listening. So how do you disseminate important messages during times of change?

Step 1: Adopt the Vomit Principle
If you haven’t said it so much that saying it again will make you vomit, you haven’t said it enough – that’s the vomit principle. Tell it, and tell it again. One of the greatest mistakes an organisation can make at a time of major change is to communicate key messages only once or twice, assuming that everyone has absorbed and understood them. It is important to continue to communicate the message long past the point you may think is sufficient, as it can take some time for all staff to truly hear and digest what is required. Even if staff are not resistant to the change, they may have difficulty absorbing the scale or impacts of it, or may be feeling ‘change fatigue’ if the organisation has recently experienced a series of upheavals. Keep sending the message until staff tell you that they have heard it enough!

Step 2: Utilise various channels for communication
While it is important to leverage existing communication channels, don’t assume that this is enough. Weekly written communication, supported by updates in meetings that cascade throughout an organisation, may normally be sufficient practice. However, at times of significant change, relying on one-way communication channels is a pit many organisations fall into.
Middle managers are as crucial to the success of any change process as the Executive, and consulting with these roles is key to successful implementation. Bringing them together in an open weekly discussion forum is a great way to hear their issues and concerns and to work with them to minimise the impacts of the change on staff. If you can get these managers on board they will support their teams to operationalise the required changes. On the other hand, if you don’t engage effectively with these managers they may prove to be the greatest barrier to success.It is equally important to bring staff from all levels together to communicate directly and hear how they are managing the change process. Setting up a change forum, for example, will enable operational staff to be engaged, work together to solve problems, and be equipped to support others in their teams throughout the change. Staff who participate in these forums often end up functioning as ‘change champions’ who can be a great support in embedding change throughout the organisation.

Step 3: Consult with staff to minimise the impact of change

It is important to work with impacted teams to understand the effects of the change on how they work, as well as to mitigate any challenges or issues arising from the change. Facilitating workshops where teams can reflect on their post-change workloads, workflows, processes and practices is a critical step in embedding and operationalising change. In many cases, roles may need to be redesigned or work priorities reassessed, and workshops are also a great forum for resolving these issues in a collaborative way. It is impossible to over emphasise the importance of providing teams with a level of input and control over the implementation of changes – this is vital if you want the change to stick.

Step 4: Provide ‘how to’ guides and supporting information
Finally, you can help staff to cope with change and keep the ball rolling on implementation by providing a range of targeted support tools. Process maps, training or coaching programs, tailored toolkits and other supporting documentation (such as new organisation charts, up-to-date contacts lists, and organisational vision statements) are all critical in supporting staff to understand the outcomes of the change and how to move forward.  For example, Fyusion worked with one client to develop a Team Leader Toolkit to support new team leaders to hit the ground running following a major restructure. These Toolkits included organisation charts, individual change plans, meeting and communication frameworks, and handover procedures, and provided team leaders with a valuable guide and support platform in the context of significant upheaval and uncertainty.

Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed? Using the RACI Method to Support Implementation

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by admin

One of the most difficult aspects of implementation – whether of a new structure, new roles or a new process – is understanding who is responsible for what under the new model. For staff, knowing who to go to for approval, sign-off or decisions is vital to their ability to do their jobs on a day-to-day basis – as is knowing how to escalate issues appropriately. More broadly, staff need to understand their own role and the activities to which they are responsible for contributing, as well as who they need to interact or connect with in order to get things done. When roles or teams change, these lines of responsibility can become blurred or disappear entirely.

This is where a responsibilities matrix can be your best friend. At Fyusion, we use the RACI matrix on a wide range of projects to support implementation with great success.
The RACI method is quite straightforward; for each decision, action or deliverable, a RACI chart steps out specifically who is:

  • Responsible: Those who do the work to achieve the task.
  • Accountable: The role that is answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task.
  • Consulted: Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts, and with whom there is two-way communication.
  • Informed: Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable, and with whom there is just one-way communication.

For every task, it is crucial that both an “R” and an “A” are allocated. In some (rare) cases, there may not be a need to consult or inform anybody, but there will always be a need for somebody to be accountable for the output, and for somebody to take responsibility for actually completing the task. Ideally, only one role should be shown as Accountable for each task, and only one as Responsible – shared responsibility can muddy the waters, though it is occasionally necessary.  On the other hand, it is quite common for multiple stakeholders to be shown as Consulted or Informed; in many processes, broad consultation is highly desirable.

Below is an example of a RACI matrix for the development of a Program.

The RACI chart provides a quick, snapshot-style reference for all staff. It can be consulted at any time, by anyone who is new or unsure about relative responsibilities in a particular process. RACI charts can be used as part of implementation ‘toolkits’ to support new teams or new leaders, and to accompany process maps to make the maps more readable and usable by staff.

It is important that RACI charts are based on evidence and careful consideration – responsibilities should never be distributed arbitrarily. A poorly designed RACI matrix will undoubtedly do more harm than good. However, when done right, this simple tool can save you, your team and your organisation a great deal of worry and can help to keep things running smoothly during times of change.

5 Tips for Painless Procurement Management

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by admin

  1. procurementSeek help
    Procurement regulations can be a minefield. This is why there are a number of resources to help you through the process. Ensure that you have up-to-date templates in place and that you adhere to current process rules and regulations. Talk to your organisation’s procurement specialists and leverage from their knowledge and expertise.Across Government for example, there is a knowledge bank available to procurement project managers, such as the NSW Government ProcurePoint website, which contains a wealth of information, including a Self Help Tool and a direct Procurement Service Centre.

 

  1. Take the time to develop a procurement strategy
    Rather than jump straight into developing a specification for a tender, take the time to develop an appropriate procurement strategy.Look at the options and scope the alternatives.It may be important to release an expression of interest, or a request for quote rather than a tender.Map out the most appropriate pathway based on the organisational guidelines and the estimated spend. A tender process is a costly and time consuming process which may not be required.Look at all the panels and current contracts already in place with similar organisations or agencies. In many cases there is an opportunity to ‘piggy back’ off existing arrangements saving time and money.

 

  1. Engage with the market in an open-minded and professional manner
    In order to get a true sense of market opportunities, it is important to engage broadly across a range of providers.Even in a mature market place, opportunities may exist that you are unaware of; there are always new or evolving suppliers with new ideas and solutions who are looking for opportunities and may be able to add enormous value to your project. Similarly, do not approach a procurement process with a rigidly-defined expectation of outcomes. Be open-minded. Often the best solution to a problem is the one that you did not expect. So, don’t just talk to the same old suppliers!

 

  1. Good governance
    Procurement processes often suffer from extended delays, which increases costs and impedes broader business outcomes. This is often the result of convoluted governance. Many projects go off track due to oversized evaluation teams, too many levels of approval or excessive oversight. An evaluation team of twelve or more people is absolute overkill and your project is doomed to suffer delays.Some simple rules of thumb are:
  • Keep evaluation teams manageable with 3-5 members, and use Subject Matter Experts to advise during the process if required.
  • Use Steering Committees only where there are strategic implications broader than the project – not for risk avoidance.
  • Be informed about lines of approval and delegated authority, and allow time for this in your planning. Senior executives need time to review documents and can’t be expected to turn things around on the spot.
  • Schedule meetings early and ensure that there is commitment to attend from all evaluation team members.

 

  1. Communication is a two way street
    Although communication needs to be managed appropriately and transparently throughout a procurement process don’t be afraid to communicate with suppliers. Establish open, clear and effective lines of communication to address questions and clarifications promptly.The better suppliers understand the brief during this process, the better positioned they are to respond to your needs. Although requirements may be spelt out in the tender documents, talking these through is extremely beneficial.

Showcasing Fyusion’s Talent: Amy Simpson-Deeks

Posted on August 1st, 2016 by admin

AmyAmy joined Fyusion in 2013 as a research assistant and technical writer. She had recently completed a Master of Creative Arts (Research) at UTS, where she had also been awarded the University Medal for her Honours thesis in 2010. At that time she was working as a freelance literary editor and lecturing in the Writing program at UTS (she continues to lecture in both the undergraduate and postgraduate programs today).

Amy’s strong background in writing and academic research, as well as her experience in delivering lectures, workshops and seminars, meant that she was well positioned to contribute to Fyusion’s consultation work, and she was quickly promoted to Senior Consultant. In this role she has worked on a wide range of projects, from organisational reviews to procurement research, further developing her skills in technical writing, data analysis and facilitation.

“The best thing about working at Fyusion is the diversity of our projects – no two are ever the same! I am constantly learning new things and building new skills. Being part of a boutique firm has given me a lot of opportunities to try new things and take on challenges. I love the collaborative style of our workplace and the commitment of the team to delivering work of outstanding quality.”

This year Amy is stepping into a Principal Consultant role at Fyusion. This will involve leading projects, managing client relationships and helping to further develop Fyusion’s business networks.

“Once again I have been given an opportunity at Fyusion to stretch myself, and I am genuinely excited to take it on. I’m looking forward to contributing to Fyusion’s growth and to hunting down new opportunities for us as a team.”

Amy’s key area of interest is organisational review and change management, although she also has a growing interest in workplace culture.

“What we’re seeing at the moment is that our clients are all dealing with high levels of change, and these changes are likely to keep coming. One of the key hurdles to implementing change can be entrenched cultural factors – for example, staff who have historically worked in isolation being asked to work in a more collaborative way. Naturally there can be some resistance to change, particularly when it is constant. Getting structures and processes right certainly helps to support change, as does making sure you have the right people in the right roles. But I think it is also important to think about how culture can be managed – how can people be brought together to work towards shared goals, or made to feel that they are an integral and valuable part of the change process? If workplace culture doesn’t support change it is an uphill battle. This is something I am looking forward to exploring in greater depth in my new role.”

New focus on evaluation

Posted on August 1st, 2016 by admin

evaluation gearsIt is a familiar experience for Fyusion to discover that a client organisation has many well considered processes for planning, designing and delivering services but none for evaluating whether they have actually achieved their goals. Evaluation is often the forgotten component of program (and project) management. This can occur for a number of reasons:

  • With deadlines to deliver to, the focus of the project team is often on meeting those deadlines and getting a service up and running rather than on what happens once the service is in place;
  • Defining good measures of impact is seen as difficult, as is gathering the required data;
  • Many people have had previous experience of being required to report against poorly designed KPIs, so are sceptical about the utility of measuring outcomes.

However, there is a new focus on evaluation within government which means that evaluation will no longer be optional. At Commonwealth level, the Department of Finance is implementing an extensive performance framework that has a strong focus on assessing impact and outcomes. In January this year, the NSW State Government published its Program Evaluation Guidelines to support agencies to evaluate NSW Government funded programs.

So, what can you do if you have never been involved in evaluation before? Both the Commonwealth and NSW Government initiatives are being delivered with a range of support materials to assist staff who have limited experience of evaluation. However, there are a couple of simple tips that can help when you are approaching evaluation:

  • The single most effective step you can take is to include evaluation planning in the early stages of planning for the program as a whole.
    • Ensure that you define the overall goals of the program clearly and map out the outcomes you want to achieve.
    • Consider the timeline for the program and think about the short term changes that you hope to see as against the longer term outcomes.
  • Work out how you can collect data to measure both short and longer term impacts and put these measures in place from the outset. Wherever possible, leverage from information that is already being collected.
  • Make sure that the measures you choose are practical and will help you to identify critical issues and make decisions about what needs to be adjusted if the program is not delivering on its objectives.
  • Remember that you don’t have to have a lot of measures in place if you choose the right ones. Some organisations are now finding that a single measure of customer service is all they need: they simply ask customers if they found it easy to interact with the organisation (for more on this read our ‘Simply Measuring Success!’ article below).

If you have not done this early planning, then it is never too late to start! While you might have lost the opportunity to develop customised impact measures, existing information sources can always be leveraged. You might find that you need to put together two or three existing measures to build a good picture of the program’s impact in a particular area. If this is the case, combining statistical data with more qualitative feedback can be very powerful.

Finally, the effort of evaluating will only be worthwhile if you act on the results. While it can be disappointing to discover that a program is not achieving its intended outcomes, a well-considered evaluation will provide a good starting point for working with colleagues and stakeholders to redesign the program and improve performance.

Dr Gillian McAllister
Principal Consultant

Simply measuring success!

Posted on August 1st, 2016 by admin

All organisations, particularly those engaged in delivering services directly to consumers, need to find ways to evaluate their performance. Are our clients happy with the ways we interact with them? Are we meeting our potential? Does our service delivery meet or surpass expectations? And what are we doing to resolve issues?

KMS image

But how to approach this? The world today is awash with data and performance can be scrutinised from every conceivable angle. Collecting and using quantitative data on customer service performance (for example, how long on average do customers wait on the phone when calling us?) is often a straightforward and unobtrusive way to evaluate; however, without a qualitative context the results may be completely misleading. Traditional qualitative methods used to understand the service context are based on seeking personal feedback from the end user, often though a questionnaire. Unfortunately, customers tend to see such measures as an imposition and a waste of time, particularly when they provide:

  • Lengthy or irrelevant questions;
  • No acknowledgement or feedback to the customer on the issues raised; and
  • No apparent improvement in service.

In finding a balance between quantitative and qualitative performance measures, many leading organisations are choosing to implement a single metric of success with the aim of reducing the effort required by the end user without detracting from the quality of the data provided.

The single metric is simple, clean, clear and practicable for the end user. Following an interaction, the customer is given an opportunity to provide a single score as a rating of their experience. This could be an automated action at the end of a phone call or via a popup box at the end of an online interaction. This single metric rates the client’s experience with the interaction on a scale of 0-10; 9-10 being ‘Promoters’, 7-8 being ‘Passives’ and 0-6 being ‘Detractors’. Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

A robust analytics function then enables the true benefits of the single metric to be realised. Each score triggers a consequential action; for example, Detractors trigger an investigation phase, whereas Promoters might lead to an individual employee or team being rewarded for customer service excellence. The scores help organisations to identify trends, excellence hot spots and poor results. This information then leads to more targeted marketing, careful monitoring of trends and remedial action to address underperformance and other issues. In terms of responding to negative feedback, the key is to undertake careful analysis of the scores to identify impacts, and then to direct resources to address high impact or high repetition areas of poor performance through a closed improvement loop. In this way even poor results enable end user-directed continuous improvement, thus turning a negative to a positive.

Karen Mackay-Smith
Principal Consultant

Client Testimonial

Posted on August 1st, 2016 by admin

The engagement of Fyusion was of superior quality in every way. The personnel provided were clearly knowledgeable, professional, resourceful, articulate and good at listening. The work required from Fyusion was needed to replace existing Policy and also needed to satisfy the Agency Clusters’ needs. Fyusion ran client workshops, visited agency personnel and engaged a number of different stakeholders to ensure a good outcome. The strategic work showed knowledge and clever thinking whilst the presentation was professional and engaging.

The final outcome is a high quality document that meets the need and that NSW Procurement is proud to publish. The Policy needed to be written from scratch and is an excellent end document. A lot of research and procurement analytics and analysis was needed for the plan and was executed extremely well. The thinking behind the strategies is ahead of its time and the end document is a testimony to the quality of the work by Fyusion. I would definitely rehire Fyusion in the future should I have the need.

– Deborah Clifford, NSW Procurement

What’s the role of a procurement evaluation panel member?

Posted on March 15th, 2016 by Karen Mackay-Smith

So you’ve been requested to participate in an evaluation panel for a procurement project… what happens next and what is your role in the process?
board meeting
Typically an evaluation panel comprises a chairperson with the support of a small group of staff from within the organisation.  It’s advisable for a panel to have three members for small projects and up to six or seven where there is high complexity, risk or value. The experience represented in the panel can range from senior executives to operational staff each bringing their own important perspective as a potential user of the solution.  The key is that the group has the collective experience to be able to identify the best outcome.

The normal activities that the evaluation panel are involved in include:

  • Reviewing and agreeing the statement of requirement and the corresponding evaluation plan prior to release of the tender to the market;
  • Reviewing and assessing the responses received, which could include testing the products offered (particularly appealing for a catering contract!);
  • Identifying areas which require clarification in a response from a vendor; and,
  • Endorsing the recommendations presented in the evaluation report.

Through a series of stages, the evaluation process and panel members will narrow the field of responses and deliver a recommendation. 

The roles and responsibilities of an evaluation team are normally explained in the first meeting, following which members are asked to sign a code of conduct. During the process, the evaluation panel will need to declare any conflicts of interest which may arise so that they can be managed.  Members will be reminded to respect the confidentiality of commercial information both during and after the process.  Above all and throughout the process, a panel member is required to act with honesty and fairness and to make recommendations that are accountable, transparent and supported by the records of the evaluation process.


 

Implementing change: the critical role of workforce planning and capability development

Posted on March 15th, 2016 by Gillian McAllister

computer key - Change

When managers take on a change management project, they generally expect to encounter challenges that call for skills in persuasion, conflict resolution and people management. However, managing a change program also requires a range of more technical management skills. These can sometimes be overlooked in the drive to bring staff on board but are critical if the change is to be successfully implemented.

One of the first questions a manager needs to explore when faced with change is: does my team have the skills to work in the new way? Staff might understand the desired goal (‘client centred services’, for example, or ‘digital by default’) but not have the experience and know-how to translate these concepts into operation. Skills audits can therefore be an important step in preparing for change. A manager needs to understand the skills that will be needed to operate in the proposed new way and to determine whether there is a skills gap within his or her team.

Once gaps have been identified, decisions need to be made about how those gaps will be bridged. Do new skills need to be brought in through recruitment, or through training and staff development, or a mixture of both? This can become a strategic decision for the manager: if a particular skill set is critical to the new way of working then recruitment of experienced staff might be the most effective approach. Where recruitment is not an option, training existing staff in high-impact, critical skills must form part of the change program. A hybrid approach is also possible: a manager can choose to bring in experienced contractors or consultants to bridge gaps in the short term on the understanding that they will share their skills with ongoing staff. These are all strategies which help build the organisation’s capacity for change.

Of course, training is not the only option available to managers when it comes to changing the way staff work together. Change tool kits can be provided to staff so that they have information at their fingertips about new structures and strategies. Redesigning work processes in consultation with staff can also help to translate the goals of a change program into practical reality.

Finally, a significant challenge all managers face at times of organisational change is managing that change while continuing to deliver on a day-to-day basis. Managers need to be able to hold the business together while simultaneously changing it. This is a major test of any manager’s technical skills and, if not managed well, can undermine progress being made to implement change. To navigate this challenge, it is essential as a first step for a manager to establish a clear set of priorities and then communicate this to staff. Staff can feel overwhelmed by the need to manage their existing workload and also contribute to the change program – so it is important that they have visibility of key priorities and understand what work can be put aside or stopped while the transition occurs. This can also be a time for managers to identify one-off projects that can be managed by bringing in temporary or external resources. Resource planning in this way means that staff are supported through the change process and the team or branch can continue to deliver core programs and services.


 

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    Workforce and People Systems

    Enhance organisational capabilities through job design and analysis, training, performance assessment and skills development.

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    Change Management

    Manage and implement the technical and cultural aspects of organisational change with a program customised to your organisation.

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    Support your organisation to achieve its objectives by creating a structured strategic, business or marketing plan.

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    Engage an independent specialist to support procurement, change management and training projects and prepare reports and corporate publications.