Do You Have Opportunities to Improve Process?

Category: Process Improvement Project

Do You Have Opportunities to Improve Process?

January 17, 2024 | 2:19 pm

As the new year begins, you may wonder whether there are ways your team can improve process. I am frequently asked about this, and based on my experience and certifications, I see critical feedback as a sign of a potential process improvement opportunity.

Feedback as an Indicator

As an organization that seeks to make a positive impact on your community, you undoubtedly receive feedback from many parties. The kind of feedback you receive can help you pinpoint areas where process improvement might be both warranted and achievable.

Is any of this feedback familiar to you?

  • Your board is challenging the organization to deliver more to the community.
  • There is board pressure to keep costs and resources at current levels despite inflation.
  • Visionary senior leaders are looking for the next level of impact or service.
  • Community members are asking for more help and/or for help to be delivered more quickly.
  • Funders are asking for a greater community impact from their investment.
  • Employees are communicating that they are overwhelmed with work or are at risk of leaving.
  • Partners are seeking ways to work together more effectively so they can help others.
  • Regulators are asking your organization to deliver services to the community in a timelier manner.

 

These parties all want you to do more with what you have. You can close your ears to this feedback, or you can treat this feedback as a golden opportunity to apply proven process improvement techniques that address the identified concerns. Taking a deep dive to assess your processes can enhance how work is done and can change outcomes for the better.

Opportunity Knocks!

So, does your organization have an opportunity to improve process? If you have received critical feedback from any key parties, the answer is yes. To learn more about your team’s potential to improve the way your work is done, contact me to talk through what you see. Others have improved processes to better serve their community. You can too!

About Lee Kuntz and Innovation Process Design

As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results. Contact Lee with questions or to talk about your situation and what you want to achieve.

Thrive During the Busy Donation Season Through this Best Practice

October 19, 2023 | 12:32 pm

Many foundations and nonprofits receive the majority of their contributions during November and December. This makes for a busy donation season, which can result in employee stress and delayed responses to donors and grantees. Instead, some teams take one hour to conduct a process walk through, which enables them to thrive during this busy season.

The Best Practice to Create Capability
The volume of work during this time can overwhelm normally adequate processes and capacity. A way to create capacity and to firm up processes during the upcoming onslaught is to conduct a one-hour process walk through of any high-volume processes. This best practice reminds employees of how work needs to be done, identifies sticking points and engages the team in making backlogs visible and solvable.

An effective process walk through follows specific steps. Here is a link to my firm’s IPD Process Talk Walk through Best Practices. Feel free to print this document and use it during your process walk through.

And contact me with any questions or to talk about what you see during busy season. As a process coach and trainer, I have seen teams go from drowning to thriving during November and December. Your team can also.

People Are at the Heart of Improving Process and Outcomes

September 5, 2023 | 9:06 am

Throughout the 23 years I have been a process improvement coach and trainer, I have learned that people are the most important factor in achieving process improvement success. Yes, methodologies, training, and tools are important. But engaging the people doing the work in a way that increases their readiness for improving the way they work is the most important element.

In a recent conversation with one of my clients, I was reminded of the power of engaging and readying staff for process improvement. This leader moved from the CFO role in one foundation to a similar role in another. Both foundations are huge and healthy with big growth ahead of them. This experienced leader had brought my firm in to the first foundation to help him create capacity to take on that big growth. He anticipated the busy season ahead and knew the workload would be unmanageable unless he took action.

During our training, we built both the skills and will to improve how work is done. See how this looks in this video: Energized, Inspired, and Engaged.

My firm also conducted a process deep dive with this leader’s team to recapture capacity in their donor advised fund (DAF) grants operations. See how a deep dive looks in this short video: IPD Process Deep Dive Experience. The team redesigned their process to cut the time to do a DAF grant by 40 percent. That meant delivering grants and confirmations faster to donors and freeing employees up to enjoy the year-end holidays.

Last month I reconnected with this leader to congratulate him on his new CFO role. He mentioned that he brought the language of process improvement with him to his second organization. He said, “We constantly look for and talk about finding unproductive tasks, exactly as I learned to do in your training.”

Because this leader identified the challenges ahead, learned key process transformation concepts, and took action to implement them, he has now been able to lead two teams to improve how work is done. As a result, both he and the two organizations he has worked for have streamlined their operations and increased employee satisfaction. You and your organization can achieve these favorable results too.

Contact Lee Kuntz at lee@improveprocess.net if you see pain points in how your organization’s work is done or if you seek to improve the outcomes your organization delivers to your community.

About Lee Kuntz and Innovation Process Design
As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results. Contact Lee with questions or to talk about your situation and what you want to achieve.

Nonprofit Builds Muscles to Deliver More Community Assistance

September 5, 2023 | 2:06 pm

Is doing more for your community one of your organization’s goals?

Situation

A community action agency (CAP) was working hard to address all the energy assistance requests from their community while tracking with funder regulations. The agency’s energy assistance department was draining funds from the rest of the agency rather than being self-sustaining as it was supposed to be. To compound these challenges, the team was going into energy assistance season down two staff. How was this team going to meet its community’s energy assistance needs with fewer staff, yet still perform well in the government’s regulatory audit?

Solution

The director of energy assistance met with IPD’s Lee Kuntz to share the team’s goals and challenges. Lee then recommended IPD’s four-hour Think Differently Concepts™ skill building workshop and a one-day coached deep dive into energy assistance processes and operations to help employees identify, accept, and solve the problems that were hampering their operations.

Lee then provided the training workshop and coached the fourteen-person energy assistance team through the one-day process deep dive. Through this work, the staff began to understand that operations pain points were caused by their poor process, not people. With this new understanding, the staff engaged, using their workshop time to identify the process steps that were essential and effective, and those that were not. This coached team reduced energy assistance application intake from 77 steps to 45 better steps. Then staff members generated numerous ideas on how to improve their energy assistance operations. After IPD handed off the project to the energy assistance director, who led the team in implementing the ideas over the next several weeks. IPD delivered what it promised on budget and on time.

Results

As a result of IPD’s workshop and the team’s hard work, the agency was able to hit its regulator’s turnaround time deadlines with fewer staff, due to recapturing over 2,000 work hours, and at lower cost during the next energy assistance season. The team also received fewer regulatory audit comments. Now, the team continues to improve how it delivers energy assistance services to its community.

Build Process and System Success through a One-time Process Investment

April 19, 2023 | 2:17 pm

Is your organization installing new technology this year? You are not alone. About 50% of organizations are installing new software this year. And that is not about to change.

Given the cost of technology, managing new software installation and maximizing technology is now a core piece of organization work. Here is a story of one organization’s journey to build their skills to make software pay for itself.

Build Process and System Success through a One-time Process Investment.

To learn more about how today’s nonprofit is maximizing software, check out our newly published article: Bust these myths and save 2,800 hours in day-to-day operations.

 

Experience an IPD Coached Process Deep Dive

April 11, 2023 | 8:29 am

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

Are you looking to improve processes and related 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 virtual and in-person process deep dive in this short video.

IPD Coached Process Deep Dive Video Link

IPD’s March 2023 Newsletter and Process Tip

March 29, 2023 | 11:20 am

Operations process tip for the quarter: Look at each step of the work you do to see if that specific step adds value to your community. If it does not, consider whether this step can feasibly be improved or removed, thereby recapturing your time.

Workshop invitation: Process Transformation and Training Cohort Workshop™.
Is your foundation being held back by a process that no longer works as it should? If your answer to this question is yes, check out our next Process Transformation and Training Cohort Workshop™. It is an affordable way to improve the outcomes from your foundation’s processes. Contact Lee Kuntz with questions about the workshop.

See a process deep dive happen: IPD Process Deep Dive Experience Video

Newly published article: Bust these myths and save 2,800 hours annually in day-to-day operations: Software has become a significant expense for organizations. Yet even as they invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in software platforms, many fail to make a much smaller investment in an intensive process transformation, enabling them to maximize the benefits of new software, increase their positive impact in the community, and improve their skills so as to be prepared for future implementations of technology projects and tools. Read the full article at: Philanthropy news | PND.

How was your end-of-year rush? Did your team work long hours under significant stress? Did they struggle to keep up leading to complaints from their community? The good news is that your employees do not have to be pushed to exhaustion as they tackle year-end duties. Learn more: How Did Your End-of-Year Rush Go?

This year, plan to succeed! Use process improvement to transform outcomes: Is your organization planning and budgeting for the next fiscal year? Are you tired of fighting the same pain points year after year, such as overwhelming workloads, demands for better or faster results, or challenges in how to maximize costly technology? During this year’s budgeting and planning season, consider investing in a coached process deep dive to recapture capacity and solve pain points. This Year, Plan to Succeed!

Plan to Achieve Daily Operations Success

February 3, 2023 | 8:41 am

Is your organization preparing the annual plan for next year? The strategic plan for the next five years? This is a time for big ideas. An important one is how to fulfill your organization’s mission by making day-to-day operations function well.

Is your organization being held back by a process that is no longer working as it should?

Here is an invitation to a live, no cost webinar to hear how community foundations are planning for success by gaining support to fix daily operations pain points. Hear return on investment and the resource needs to finally solve the pain points that hold up your team’s success.

Register in advance for this meeting: 

Registration Link

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Your organization does not have to live with painful client operations. Others have improved how work is done and clients are served. You can too.

Finally Solve the Process Pain Points in Your Operations

January 16, 2023 | 2:25 pm

Community foundations can fulfill their mission only when their day-to-day operations function well. Is your foundation being held back by a process that is no longer working as it should?

Do you see pain points in your foundation’s daily operations? Are these challenges taking a lot of time to work around? Are agonizing problems such as slowness in gift confirmation or grant payment turnaround leading to unfulfilled promises to your community?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, check out our next Process Transformation and Training Cohort Workshop™.

Approach that Creates Success

Community foundations are using our twelve-hour virtual workshop to solve their pain points. Foundation employees who have participated in this deep-dive workshop have resolved their ongoing challenges through the following ways—and others:

• Improved scholarship processes and practices in order to meet community needs with less labor.
• Redesigned gift processes to deliver more impactful confirmations more swiftly.
• Modified board meeting preparation so it requires less labor.
• Mapped processes and opportunities in preparation for a new software.
• Created or enhanced electronic payment.

The keys to these teams’ success is the proven operations transformation training and coaching Innovation Process Design (IPD) provides. To learn more about how our expertise can benefit your organization, watch a sample of a virtual and an in-person process deep dive in this short video: IPD Process Transformation Deep Dive Video Link.

For over 20 years, our community foundation clients say they have achieved the results they need from our process transformation services. We consistently hear feedback such as the following:

About the Workshop

In this twelve-hour virtual workshop, one or more members of your staff will be coached to redesign one process that is holding your foundation back. Participants will be taught how to identify sticking points in that process and will receive individualized coaching to help them develop workable solutions based on proven practices. Also from this cohort format, your staff will also learn by hearing about the pitfalls the other three organizations are facing and how they can confront them successfully.

What your foundation will get from this workshop:
• Solutions and a newly designed process to solve your team’s frustrations;
• An implementation plan delineating how to put the new approach in place; and
• An empowered staff member(s) with greater process transformation skills and motivation to become a change agent within your organization.

Learn more about this practical workshop here: Process Transformation and Training Cohort Workshop

The cost of this workshop is $1,800 for the first attendee.  The cost per additional attendee working on the same challenge is $1,000. These prices are designed to make this outcome-oriented coaching accessible to all foundations. This workshop is scheduled for May 8 – May 11, 2023; 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm CT each day.

Next Steps

In order to ensure personalized coaching for each attendee, this workshop is limited to four foundations. Therefore, contact Lee Kuntz soon to get answers or to register for this workshop. Other foundations have solved their operations process pain points through this workshop. You can too.

About Lee Kuntz and Innovation Process Design

As founder and president of Innovation Process Design, Lee Kuntz has spent over two decades using process improvement to solve the unique challenges faced by leaders of complex service organizations. Through expert training and coaching, she helps teams look at their work with new eyes, transform how work gets done, and create real results.

Lead Operations Transformation to Increase Community Impact

October 6, 2022 | 7:19 am

Does your organization face nearly overwhelming demand, yet you have limited resources or staffing to fulfill that demand?

I am told that being under resourced and understaffed is a common constraint for nonprofits. Despite such limitations, community action councils (CACs) are doing amazing work as the last line of support to address poverty in their communities. But our communities need more help.

In this blog series, you will read how CACs are engaging staff to change how work is done, resulting in a bigger community impact. I will share with you ways your team can meet and exceed community and program needs with the resources you have now. CAC employees who use these approaches are feeling engaged and empowered. Boards are satisfied and communities are being served at a new level. Would those outcomes be valuable to you?

Operations in Community Action Councils

All organizations have two aspects to their work: what they do and how they do it.

Both are important and both are needed to make an impact on the communities that they serve. Now let’s look at each side of the organizations’ work.

What we do: This aspect consists of the services an organization offers. What we do is based on decisions we think long and hard about. We test them. We adjust them. They are important. Collectively, these decisions about an organization’s mission guide the development of that organization’s strategy. Generally, people think that strategy creates community impact.

How we do it: How we execute that strategy or how we do work is also important. It relates to how we deliver services. This is generally considered operations. We spend about 90% of our time and resources on operations. Therefore, the how is important.

Figure 1

Looking at organizations through the lens of strategy and operations is common in for-profit organizations. Many have a chief operations officer who is accountable for how the work gets done. For-profit organizations typically have operational titles and roles at the director, manager, and individual contributor levels. These organizations understand the power of the how.

What the How Looks Like in CAC Agencies

Within CAC agencies, decisions about strategy and tactics are made by CAC leaders in conjunction with the board. For example, some energy assistance programs offer three levels of energy support as shown below.

The specifics of an organization’s operations are determined by the agency’s staff. They design how work should be done. In this example, the five steps describe how an agency might provide the various levels of support to its clients.

Figure 2

Focus on Operations

Given my experience and certifications, I see myself primarily as an operations coach and trainer. I help teams put good ideas into practice. I believe CAC employees are the right people to improve how processes and operations happen. With strong process improvement skills, they can achieve impressive results for their community. I have seen it over and over again. Working with teams to enhance their skills-and-will to do work better and deliver impact is my passion and my vocation.

Levers to Improve Operations and Increase Community Impact

The good news about operations is that we have tools and approaches to make processes work well and deliver great outcomes, with the primary goal always being to maximize community impact. These levers include work steps, equipment, roles and responsibilities, training, forms, and internal rules.

Figure 3

Regulations may mandate the forms you use, yet it is these six operational levers that can help you maximize your impact in the community.

I recently worked with a CAC transportation team to help them better leverage their six operational levers. Through process training and then a one-day deep dive, the CAC team determined that they could improve their ride intake process and outcomes through maximizing use of their existing tools, adjusting roles and responsibilities, retraining request intake staff, rethinking their internal policies, and simplifying work steps. As a result of the team’s work, they quickly implemented their new mobile vaccination van, employing new processes to deliver an improved rider experience.

Conclusion

All nonprofit organizations, including CAC teams, can improve their operations to provide more services and generate greater impact for their community. If your organization is experiencing unlimited demand with limited resources, you have the opportunity to look at your operations to improve outcomes. Other organizations are expanding their community impact by leveraging these six operational levers. You can too.

Learn more about improving operations through our next blog post, or contact Lee Kuntz to discuss your unique situation.

Contact Lee today to discuss your challenge.