Situation: A nonprofit organization knew they needed to implement ACH to serve their community because checks were taking up to two weeks to get to the grantee. Now their busy season was coming up. Was this nonprofit going to keep hampering their community impact because they could not pay their grantees in a timely fashion?
Approach: The chief financial officer called me, as I had helped others implement ACH quickly and successfully. I provided the team with IPD’s four-hour Think Differently Process Transformation Training™ to build skills and will to change how work is done. Then I coached an eight-person cross-organizational team through a 24 hour deep dive to design their new ACH process and outline their implementation plan.
Results: The team successfully reduced both the labor required and the turnaround time to get payments out the door. Now, two months later, they now poised to make their busy season less painful and to serve their community faster and better. See a process deep dive happen:
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 to maximize costly technology? During this year’s budgeting and planning season, consider investing in process transformation to recapture capacity and solve pain points.
Rapid growth can create challenges for community foundations, leading to missed deadlines and poor quality. Learn how one organization enlisted me to help them understand their pain points and redesign processes with an eye to improve efficiencies, change systems, and build skills and will to support a more unified team.
A process map will create better outcomes for your organization
Recently, a software vendor told me that organizations considering a new software system would do well to supply their vendor with a detailed process map. Having such a map helps the vendor better address the organization’s needs and generate a more accurate quote. In four hours of work with your team, I can produce a process map that will help you achieve a better software outcome. Contact me to learn more.
December 1, 2022 @ 1:00 pm–2:30 pm EST
This presentation is a Midwest Series Webinar sponsored by the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, Philanthropy Ohio, and the Council of Michigan Foundations. Members of any of these organizations are invited to register for this presentation with their organization.
Rapid growth can create challenges for community foundations, leading to missed deadlines and gaps in quality. Learn how one organization enlisted Lee Kuntz to help them understand their pain points and redesign processes with an eye to improve efficiencies, change systems, and build skills and will to support a more unified team.
Many philanthropic organizations have only the next four months to position themselves for success this year. Given November marks the beginning the big donation season, that means there is only a limited window for completing this year’s agenda. Some organizations are focused on just surviving 2022. Others are engaging employees to solve pain points, create capacity, and get ready for the year-end donation season.
Because of the far-reaching effects of the pandemic, this year promises to bring added challenges to the philanthropic sector. To be most productive and successful, you need to ask yourself several key questions: Are employees engaged? Do they have the skill and time to solve these challenges?
Return to Office: Just when remote work procedures are running well, many foundation staff are returning to the office. Once there, what process will they perform? Is the team ready to redesign processes for in-person success?
Regular Plus Special Programs: The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that charitable giving is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. That is good news for our communities, but it means philanthropic organizations need to be poised and ready to process those forthcoming gifts and grants. In addition to managing that workload, will your foundation continue to offer emergency assistance programs? Are social justice programs also on the agenda? How will your employees find time to do their regular work, plus take on any special programs?
System Replacement Goals: How are your systems holding up? With so much new technology available, did your organization include a systems change in its 2022 plan? Will it be in the 2023 plan? If new technology is on the horizon, where will you find the skill and time to redesign processes to ensure successful implementation?
Hiring in the Post-Pandemic Economy: More jobs are available as the economy regains its footing. Employees are taking advantage of new opportunities by changing jobs. As always, it’s challenging to find great candidates. How will you attract and retain good employees? How will you get new employees up to speed quickly so they can be productive when the end-of-year rush gets underway?
The consistent thread tying these challenges together is the need to engage employees in deciding how work gets done, create more capacity, and redesign processes for maximal effectiveness. Philanthropic organizations have successfully addressed these needs and achieved their goals through our process transformation coaching and training.
Learn more about our certified process skills in this blog post: Process Certification Helps Organizations Achieve the Results They Need. Whether it is through our hybrid approach or all in-person, we help employees learn how to work more efficiently and effectively. By actively engaging employees in identifying opportunities for improvement and creating solutions, we foster an organizational culture characterized by nimble skill and empowerment.
Recently a California foundation sponsored our training and coaching package. First, through our four-hour hybrid Think Differently Concepts Workshop™, we taught attendees how to spot work steps that were value-added and those that were a waste of resources. They learned to solve these pain points. Employee feedback on the training included the following comments.
• “I liked the exercises and examples pertaining to our organization specifically.”
• “I liked working in small groups with people from other departments, and having time for questions.”
After the training, Lee meet with leadership to design steps that will keep transformation skills in use.
Next, Lee coached this team in a deep dive into their gifts process. They took the process from 86 steps to 58 better steps while retaining strong internal controls. In the past, each pile of paper checks gifts was passed between staff 13 times. The team designed a new electronic, document-based process that cut handoffs in half. Error proofing is now a well-known and practiced skill.
The team will implement their new process before October so they can face the year-end donation season in a stronger position. Foundation leaders said that through this work, they expect to recapture capacity and deliver acknowledgements more quickly. They appreciated that the project was done on time and on budget. Said one leader about the combined training and coaching approach, “Lee used empathy, understanding and extensive knowledge of Community Foundations to help us streamline our process.” Added another leader, “We accomplished A LOT in a short time!”
In this blog post, learn more about how our training and coaching program works and why it is a worthwhile investment: This Year, Plan to Succeed!
What Will Your Organization Accomplish in the Next Four Months?
The very busy year-end donation season is coming soon. Rather than struggle through that hectic season, contact Lee Kuntz to learn what you can do reach your performance goals and thrive this year.
Many organizations are focused on building their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) capabilities. Yet daily operations continue as a priority. The community continues to need help. Funders need transparency and services. And operations processes need to be improved to deliver more services and better outcomes. With operations and DEI being parallel focuses, now is the time to incorporate DEI into process improvement to create an expanded impact.
Proven process improvement tools have been streamlining workflow and delivering better outcomes for years. Learn more about these time-tested tools and the importance of professional certification in this blog post: Process Certification Helps Organizations Achieve the Results They Need.
Historically, when a certified process improvement consultant uses these tools to transform both processes and outcomes, the track record has been impressive. The graph below illustrates how Innovation Process Design (IPD) capitalizes on our skills and experience to make processes faster and better, resulting in an enhanced customer experience and recaptured internal capacity.
In our upcoming webinar, learn more about how we have used these recognized approaches to help bring positive, measurable results to many organizations: Live Webinar: The Secret to Recapturing Foundation Time And Capacity.
Increasingly, many organizations are seeking to understand and incorporate DEI into their daily operations in a significant way. We understand diversity to mean that multiple identities and characteristics are represented in an organization. Equity means all these diverse identities have power. Inclusion means that all perspectives matter.
When a full-bodied commitment to DEI is in place, individuals within an organization feel a sense of belonging. Diversity advocate Verna Myers said it well. “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
The figure below defines diversity, equity, and inclusion and illustrates the potency of their overlap.
When tried-and-true process improvement tools are supplemented with DEI focused techniques, great results can happen. Teams develop a clearer understanding of what their partners and patrons need. These teams generate more innovative ideas. They also improve decision making by incorporating the views and expertise of diverse team members. Positive synergy results when everyone feels heard and included.
IPD’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion guides our internal operations. In addition, we have designed, tested, and added DEI steps into our process improvement training and coaching services. Our underlying beliefs and actions have shaped our DEI statement:
Innovation Process Design works to unlock and optimize organizations and their employees to maximize their operations impact. Our services engage organizations in bringing diverse views into each process design. We focus on using data and practicing transparency to identify and remove bias. Through the use of proven tools and approaches during projects, we help assess and balance power to create equity and inclusion. We live our diversity, equity, and inclusion values by holding ourselves accountable as we ask for and act on feedback.
Feedback from clients who have leveraged our certified process improvement + DEI services show they have been impressed by our commitment to incorporating DEI in process redesign. Even though these organizations are formulating or have already worked through their next iteration of DEI, they are surprised by our approach and questions. I suspect this is the first time they have thought about DEI and processes this way. Also, few consultants have integrated this important attribute into their services, making IPD’s services unique.
Through our coaching and training, organizations are successfully executing process improvement . They are receiving input from a wider range of staff and community representatives and are experiencing more eye-opening moments. For example, one foundation representative recently commented that “people who normally don’t speak up, now are.” Foundations appreciate that improving the way they do their work can be compatible with their commitment to DEI.
Organizations are liking the results they achieve through process improvement plus DEI. Staff members hear, engage, and understand more. These organizations live their DEI values while achieving improved outcomes. Your organization can too! Contact Lee Kuntz to learn more. And follow our blogs to hear more about the results organizations are achieving from proven process improvement tools +DEI.
Did the pandemic impact your grant payments? Are employees moving paper from location to location to get checks out? Are they working extra-long hours? Does it take more time to get checks out? What feedback is your organization getting from grantees and vendors about paper checks?
One organization looked into their busy season and decided to proactively take action to help employees and the community thrive. Here is their story:
Streamline Through Effective, Paperless, Electronic Payments Case Study.
Many philanthropic organizations look to increase their focus on racial equity. Yet, how will they find the capacity to do this work? Capacity to bring in more funds? Run another educational program? Take on added back office work to accommodate these efforts? Some are adding staff and expenses. Others are working to cut existing programs. Another set of grantmakers are finding their capacity by transforming their processes, recapturing hundreds—even thousands—of hours. A key driver of these impressive outcomes? Process transformation tool training and expert coaching.
Solving the Capacity Constraint
Process transformation is an advanced deep dive into processes to uncover and solve inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. For example, a nonprofit organization’s goal was to educate minority, non-English speaking minority home seekers on how to purchase a home. Before they received this education, home seekers were onboarded through a complex process that took 90 days. Since homes in their price range were being snapped up quickly, those stuck in the onboarding process did not get the help they needed in time to buy their desired home. Also, this long, complicated onboarding process consumed tons of nonprofit labor hours, which limited the number of community members the nonprofit could serve.
This nonprofit team solved their challenges by conducting a process transformation event on their onboarding processes. With the help of process transformation coaching and training, this team significantly redesigned onboarding, decreasing turnaround time from 90 days to a stunning 7 to 20 days. The nonprofit also recaptured time, which they redirected to educating more community members. Due to their process transformation coaching and training journey, this organization now makes a bigger racial equity impact by enabling more minorities in their community to buy a home.
New Process Transformation Tools Require Training
Process transformation uses more advanced techniques than traditional process improvement, including identifying waste and establishing fact-based quality management. Many of the process transformation tools come from the Lean operations, Six Sigma, and Human Centered Design methodologies.
Given that many process transformation approaches are new to users, they need training to use these powerful tools successfully. Whether the training is face-to-face or online, attendees of our training both learn to use the approaches and accept the need for improvement in their own work. Organizations say this training readies employees to engage in change (human change management) and improves the organization’s outcomes.
Expert Coaching to Success
As with any tool, process transformation tools are effective only when they are used the right way. It takes practice to know how to get the most out of these methods. For example, my Six Sigma Black Belt certification required me to submit two successful projects that effectively utilized Six Sigma principles. This requirement acknowledges that such tools are learned and tested only through practice. Also, many certification programs require applicants to work under the direction of an experienced, certified coach to help them be successful.
We provide coaching to all the teams we work with to show how process transformation can work in their own unique situation. The benefits of this coaching are twofold. First, coaching builds process skills and muscles. Teams need confirmation that they are using a given tool the right way, and they gain confidence through supervised use.
Second, our experienced process transformation coach ensures that teams maximize their results. Years of practice brings a level of expertise about which tool to use and when and how to use it. For example, when should quality management tools be used? When should the team push harder to find wasted steps? When is the team basing its approach on assumptions rather than facts? On average, teams we have trained and coached have improved process outcomes by 52%. That means a process of 100 steps can be streamlined to consist of about 50 steps, with the resulting time recapture.
First Step to Increase Focus on Racial Equity: Create Capacity
Philanthropic organizations who look to increase their commitment to racial equity can increase their capacity for this important work through process transformation. Grantmakers who transform DAF grants, gifts, or other critical processes can recapture a thousand or more hours hundreds of hours without doing additional hiring or stopping the programs they were already doing. You can too. Contact Lee to identify your goals and challenges and to formulate a process transformation plan that will recapture your team’s capacity.
Most philanthropic and nonprofit organizations were working at or near capacity before the COVID-19 health crisis. But the virus has created serious new needs for the populations they serve, and many organizations are grappling with the disruption caused by a shift to remote work, declining donations, and an unpredictable stock market.
While it might all seem overwhelming at times, there are resources that can help with this increased demand. Live, online process transformation training and coaching from Innovation Process Design can help. This skill building resource enables organizations to increase capacity and enhance their ability to positively impact targeted populations while keeping staff safe. That means organizations can address this abundance of new opportunities without putting an undue burden on their team.
Training and coaching work together to improve existing processes and increase an organization’s capacity. Training allows organizations to create a culture of improvement while building the muscle they need to make substantive changes. Meanwhile, coaching advances that foundation by allowing organizations to take a deep dive into a specific problem.
Because COVID-19-related volatility is projected to continue for at least the next six months, taking organizations to the beginning of the giving season, increasing capacity will be essential to fulfilling the nonprofit mission. Taking a wait-and-see approach may cause organizations to miss opportunities now and require that they play catch-up instead of hitting the ground running in October. By optimizing capacity now, organizations can address existing needs and prepare to reach year-end goals.
Think about it this way: Effective coaching, which requires a foundation of training, could allow employees to recapture between 30% and 60% of their time – from 500 to 1,500 hours per year. That’s good for now, when many employees are figuring out the finer points of working remotely, and it’s also beneficial later, when operations return to normal.
Building capacity doesn’t have to disrupt operations, either. Our online meetings take place over a couple of weeks to ensure they will not take team members away from their normal workflows. Sessions are conducted in small groups, allowing for easy interaction and opportunities for all questions to be answered.
Innovation Process Design has years of experience helping community foundations and philanthropic organizations optimize processes and workflows. We use tech-savvy tools and engaging content to share best practices that have been proven over the past 20 years. We give employees concrete projects to work on that will help them recapture time.
That time will be more important than ever as organizations work to weather an unprecedented health crisis – and help their communities do the same.
I welcome the opportunity to answer questions, to discuss your organization’s unique challenges, and to tell you more about how virtual process improvement can help.