The Common Theme: Operations Change

Category: Community Foundations

The Common Theme: Operations Change

April 11, 2022 | 1:11 pm

Process and operations improvement has continued despite the pandemic, according to our recent study of philanthropic foundations. Yet according to the survey, leaders are worried about staff readiness for more change.

Learn more about the challenges and opportunities uncovered in this survey through this executive summary. 2022 Operations Improvement Survey Results

Then hear detailed survey findings and the related solutions in our live, short, free, “About Transformation” webinars.

To see how we conduct an operations process deep dive, check out this deep dive video.

 

Live, No-Cost Webinar: Your Next Operations Opportunities

March 7, 2022 | 1:44 pm

March 24, 2022 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm CT

Registration Link

Operations—the work done to execute an organization’s mission—is critical to achieving success. Even during the pandemic, communities and foundation boards are asking for more from operations staff—more effectiveness, greater efficiency, and a higher degree of accuracy. They want faster turnaround time and the capacity to administer more programs.

Operations and process improvement are key to delivering on these increasing expectations.

In this webinar, you will learn how foundations have improved their approach to getting work done. Next, we will help you identify potential opportunities for maximizing how processes, people, and systems can lead to better outcomes and enhanced impact. Finally, we will explain the steps needed to achieve great results from operations and process improvement.

Speaker: Lee Kuntz, Certified Process Coach and CLSSBB

Once you register, you will receive a Zoom meeting invite. We hope you will join us for this free informational session.

Live, No-Cost Webinar: Three Ways to Ready Operations Staff for More Change

February 3, 2022 | 8:46 am

February 17, 2022 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Is your operations staff ready for more change?

Our recent survey of the philanthropic sector found all responding foundations expect major change in 2022 and beyond. Potential changes include implementing new systems, hiring new leaders, adding new programs, or accommodating new expectations.

Yet many operations employees—the people who are most accountable for implementing new ideas—are worn out and not ready to take on the challenges that inevitably accompany change.
Over the course of 100 operations projects with philanthropic organizations, Lee Kuntz has regularly encountered employees hesitant to change how they do their work. In this live, no-cost webinar, Lee will share three ways to get operations staff ready to make positive, productive changes.

Speaker: Lee Kuntz, Certified Process Coach and CLSSBB
Live webinar date & time: February 17, 2022; 1:00–2:00 pm Central Time

Register in advance for this meeting:
Registration Link

Once you register, you will receive a Zoom meeting invite. We hope you will join us for this free informational session.

Invitation to Three Live, No-Cost Operations Improvement Webinars

January 24, 2022 | 6:58 am

Is your foundation looking to do more? Are employees stressed out? Are you looking at new systems? If you see any of these challenges, consider joining my firm for one of our live, no-cost webinars.

This About Operations Transformation series focuses on helping foundation leaders understand how they can improve work outcomes.

Webinar: Three Ways to Ready Operations Staff for More Change

(New webinar)

Registration Link

Thursday, February 17, 2022; 1:00–2:00 pm CT

Is your operations staff ready for more change?

Many operations employees—the people who are most accountable for implementing new ideas—are worn out and not ready to take on the challenges that inevitably accompany change. In this webinar, Lee Kuntz will share three ways to get operations staff ready to make positive, productive changes.

 

 

Webinar: Maximize New Software Investment and Success with Process Redesign—Three Case Studies

(Updated webinar)

Registration Link

Thursday, February 24, 2022; 1:00 pm–2:00 pm CT

Upgrading software? Maximize your investment and success with process redesign. When a foundation updates its software system, the purchase typically requires years of research and a financial investment that can run well into six figures. So it’s important to make the most of that purchase. In this live, no-cost webinar, you will learn the best practices for redesigning and maximizing business processes and practices during new system implementation.

 

 

Webinar: Your Next Operations Opportunities

(New webinar based on recent survey)

Registration Link

March 24, 2022, 1:00–2:00 pm CT

Operations—the work done to execute an organization’s mission—is critical to achieving success. In this webinar, you will hear how foundations have improved their approach to getting work done. Next, we will help you identify potential opportunities for maximizing how processes, people, and systems can lead to better outcomes and enhanced impact. Finally, we will explain the steps needed to achieve great results from operations and process improvement.

Experience an IPD Process Transformation Deep Dive

January 11, 2022 | 9:26 am

Operations—the work done to execute an organization’s mission—is critical to achieving success.

Are you looking to improve the operations outcomes of your organization? Are you looking to make service to your community better, faster or more impactful?

Our coached process deep dive helps teams see and solve their process pain points. They improve quality, reduce turn-around time and deliver more efficiently and effectively to their community. Experience our process transformation deep dive in this short video.

IPD Process Transformation Deep Dive Video Link

Three Ways Philanthropic Operations Create Community Impact

November 16, 2021 | 2:47 pm

Is your organization looking to make a bigger community impact? Your operations—that is, how work is done—can be a powerful contributor in accomplishing your organization’s mission.

Operate for Impact

For philanthropic organizations, the nuts and bolts of operations are what enable teams to award and deliver grants quickly, set up and service fund accounts accurately, and work effectively with their boards. Some organizations have discovered that fine-tuning these operations equips them to magnify their community impact.

These organizations function at their best when their processes, systems, and people are maximized. Here are three ways organizations can maximize to operate for impact.

Better service to the community. When an organization’s grantmaking work steps are consistently carried out as designed (including substantial error proofing), grants are issued accurately. Proactive operations staff make these grants in the manner that is best for grantees, whether electronically or with hard-copy checks. Having processes in place to verify email and postal addresses eliminates the need to reissue communications or follow up on missing grant payments. When organizations manage processes for accuracy and a high service level, everyone’s time and energy can be spent wisely.

Quicker turnaround. Most organizations spend hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars on technology. From my experience, few of them use more than half their system’s capabilities. Instead they rely on manual processes and system work-arounds, all of which slow the delivery of payments to grantees and receipts to donors. When payments and receipts do not go out on time, grantees and donors typically start calling to find out the status of their payment or donation. Fielding calls and tracking down an explanation takes precious time away from the main purpose of the philanthropic effort.

A grantmaker who makes best use of the available tools, such as leveraging templates in Outlook and creating system reporting rather than relying on manual work-arounds, gets grants and confirmations out the door fast. The donor or grantee’s focus on creating an impact continues without disruption.

Efficiency that creates lower administrative costs, enabling more community investment. Philanthropic work, whether related to program design or operations, is paid for by fund expenses. Therefore, greater internal costs mean higher fund expenses and less money available for making a philanthropic impact. Doing operations work more efficiently can help decrease internal costs. A key component to that efficiency is maximizing staff time.

Yet too often, operations staff are hired and then shown their desk and a pile of work. This may unwittingly imply that their role is less important than the functions carried out by program designers.
Nonprofits that support their staff by defining clear roles, providing purposeful training, and delineating business rules find that their staff gets work done faster and better. And not inconsequentially, their employees are satisfied, productive, and energized.

Improving Operations Achieves Impact

Grantmakers and operations staff working in finance, technology, human resources, and other areas have an important role to play in enhancing efficiency. By proactively managing and improving processes and making best use of systems, you can increase the philanthropic impact of your organization.

Learn more about how to enhance operation in this recently published article: Invest in your operations teams to drive your mission forward – PhilanTopic | PND | Candid

About the Author

Lee Kuntz is founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Inc. As a certified process coach, she provides process improvement training and coaching to help teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create tangible results in operations efficiency and effectiveness.

Published article: Invest in Your Operations Teams to Drive Your Mission Forward

October 13, 2021 | 10:48 am

Many nonprofits and philanthropies have come under pressure to be more efficient and effective than ever before. Yet, the dollars just haven’t been invested to support the kinds of operations needed to carry out today’s heightened level of giving in addition to addressing emergency programs.

With organization’s planning and budgeting for the next fiscal year, now that is changing. Learn more in Lee Kuntz’s recently published article.

Invest in your operations teams to drive your mission forward

 

Community Foundation Creates Powerful Scholarship Program

September 20, 2021 | 10:51 am

Is one person in your organization performing a critical role, the responsibilities of which are not even known to others? Then you might appreciate this foundation’s success story.

Case Study: Community Foundation Creates Powerful Scholarship Program

Excellent Operations Help Deliver Community Impact

September 10, 2021 | 2:36 pm

Most philanthropic organizations take pains to carefully design and then redesign their mission, strategy, and programs. They, along with their board of directors, often hire strategic consultants and share best practices with like-minded organizations to frame their goals and objectives. Yet many spend little time improving their daily operations to deliver on these plans, even though community impact will happen only by doing so.

Importance of Operations

Sound planning without excellent execution is unlikely to produce the desired results. Operations—meaning how work gets done—is the key determinant of whether organizations succeed in accomplishing their mission. For philanthropic organizations, the nuts and bolts of operations are what enable teams to award and deliver grants quickly, set up and service fund accounts accurately, and work effectively with their board.

Not surprisingly, the majority of grantmakers’ resources are spent on operations. Our recent informal study showed only about 10% of employee time is used for mission, strategy, and program design. Yet 90% of employee time is spent on the operations to deliver on that planning. Yet in philanthropic organizations, little energy is spent maximize those operations resources.

Each full-time employee of a philanthropic organization works about 2,000 hours annually. Staff leaders can assign and manage that time in an efficient and effective way. Or they can assign employees to tasks that duplicate efforts and don’t add value. Either way, the money is gone and the community pays for that time through fewer grant dollars being spent.

Operations Skills

Operations success requires specific skills. These include focusing on details to produce desired results, practicing strong project and task management, solving problems effectively, and having a deep working knowledge of process management and improvement.

A great first step toward enhancing operations expertise is to identify employees with an operations aptitude, then provide them process management and improvement training. Our operations and process transformation training uses proven process methodologies to maximize what the organization already has to improve outcomes. We show attendees how to maximize work steps, technology, business rules, roles, training, and forms—all of which are components of operations.

As a result of our training and coaching during these deep-dive events, we see organizations achieving a greater understanding of the value of operations work. Their employees are also transforming how work is done, significantly reducing and improving the work steps to decrease turn-around time and improve community impact. Learn more through this case study describing how one team went from overwhelmed and delivering late to making a much greater community impact.

Philanthropic Sector Designs New Operations Roles

In my recent conversations with foundations, I have noticed a greater commitment to scrutinizing how work is done. This includes identifying staff to focus on monitoring operations outcomes while also managing processes and systems. Increasingly, grantmakers are redesigning roles to build in detailed operations accountabilities. We have seen three approaches to this intensified concentration on operations:

Identify an operations person in each major function: Some organizations are establishing operations accountabilities by naming a person in each area as the operations lead. For example, one philanthropy team includes a senior operations manager who “ensures the productivity and efficiency of the Philanthropic Services team while working across departments to improve cross-team collaboration and communication.”

Another organization employs an operations manager who “guides the development and implementation of efficient processes within the Community Programs team to maximize the team’s efforts toward racial and economic equity.” This same organization employs an operations manager in their finance area to deliver on the chief financial officer’s agenda. This operations manager “owns and drives Finance & Operations team planning, project management and process development. The role also is the primary liaison for Finance and Operations communication across teams and collaborates on cross-foundation operations initiatives.”

Hire a chief operations officer (COO): Some organizations are grouping functions that are highly operational into one leadership role. For example, one job posting noted that the COO “will work in alignment and harmony with the CEO and will be responsible for effectively managing the organization’s infrastructure, processes, human and financial resources.”

Another philanthropic group shared that the COO “leads the Information Technology, Grants Administration, Board governance, Human Resources, Organizational Development, Office Management, and business continuity functions.”

Add the management of operations to a senior leader’s responsibilities: Some organizations add “Operations” to the responsibilities of the chief financial officer (CFO) or another leader. One foundation’s description of its CFO and operations role includes: “Responsible for leading the Foundation’s financial reporting, risk management, budget, technology roadmap, and investment oversight.”

Another organization lists some responsibilities of the vice president of finance and operations as follows:

    • Oversee all financial, operational and personnel-related elements of the organization.
    •  Responsible for stewarding over assets and annual revenue focused on growth of philanthropic funds for ongoing community needs.
    • Provide management of and direction to finance and operations staff, and oversight of cross-departmental teams focused on staff engagement, mentorship and wellness opportunities.
    • As member of Senior Leadership Team provide strategic role in overall management of the foundation.

Moving Forward

Making a positive community impact is possible only when effective operational practices are in place. Foundations are now building their operations capabilities and accountabilities, enabling them to focus on both planning and operations successfully. Your organization can too. Contact Lee Kuntz to talk about the operations challenges you see at your organization.

Hear Lee Speak: Powering Up Productivity at the FAOG 2021 Conference

June 18, 2021 | 9:31 am

Hear Lee speak at the FAOG 2021 Conference on 9/15/21; 11 am – 12:00 pm

Are your foundation staff nearly working around the clock, yet is there even more to do? Are they working remotely or in transition? Are employees feeling stressed out? Are they at risk of leaving the foundation?

In this professional development session, leaders and individuals will hear and practice three engaging employee productivity best practices. Learning objectives include: 1) Learn productivity hacks; 2) Set up the productive workspace; 3) Lead the productive office.

This annual conference is open to Foundation Administrators and Officers Group (FAOG) members. Learn more about the conference at: https://www.faogcf.org/2021_conference.php

Community foundation friends: See you there!

Contact Lee today to discuss your challenge.