From Reactive to Results Through Process Transformation

Tag: process improvement consulant

From Reactive to Results Through Process Transformation

August 20, 2020 | 8:19 am

The COVID-19 pandemic has consumed our time and energy for half a year. Many organizations say it’s time to refocus, to both take care of now and build for the future. These philanthropic organizations are moving from being reactive to transformative to ensure they achieve their mission. How will organizations that are already working at capacity effectively take on their future? One tool to build that capacity is process transformation.

 The Challenge: Creating the Capacity for Today and Tomorrow

Due to the pandemic, grantmaking organizations have been in reactive mode, setting up safe, remote work environments in order to continue daily operations. This has required all hands-on deck, with employees being heroes by working creatively and for long hours. Recently one foundation shared that at times employees work while sitting in their cars in front of each others’ houses, ready to hand off grant checks or paperwork to the next person for the next step.

Yet even with this all-consuming workload, philanthropic leaders are focusing on increasing their organizations’ community impact. These leaders tell me they are now attempting to step back to assess where they are in their mission while maintaining safe operations.

This is a challenging next step, as capacity is already tight. The typical work of assessing existing programs and making adjustments places a huge strain on resources in today’s already at-capacity environment.

Capacity, or the hours available to do work, is a tricky asset to manage. In my process training, I talk through this capacity constraint.

Each employee has about 2,000 hours of work capacity in a year. The tasks they perform use up that capacity. This work can add value to the community, such as issuing grants to qualified organizations. Or it can be squandered through wasted steps that add no value to the community, including rework or duplication. Each organization’s yearly capacity is based on the number of full-time people times about 2,000 hours. It is up to the organization to decide how that capacity is spent or invested.

When I coach teams, we measure their value-added and wasted steps. I find wasted steps account for between 40% and 70% of work. For example, creating grants takes many tasks for thousands of work hours to deliver the grant check to the qualified organization. Yet this process can contain rework and duplication, resulting in a waste of work hours that could be better used to serve the organization’s central mission.

Process improvement is a generic term that hints at the opportunity to improve efficiency. But process transformation—a higher level of process improvement training—builds employees’ ability to see the wasted steps and eliminate them. After receiving my team’s process transformation training, one leader said: “I just need to find these wasted steps, then solve them to get back capacity for the rest of my career.” And she did. She and her operations team took their intake for home ownership coaching processes from an average of 90 days to between 9 and 20 days. They found the capacity to deliver more, better, and faster services to their community.

 Next Step: Get information on Increasing Capacity through Process Transformation

Even as grantmaking organizations struggle to get work done from their remote desks, untapped capacity is just waiting to be found. As organizations are completing this year’s work and planning for next year, including process transformation training and coaching in plans is a first step to recapturing lost or wasted capacity. With an investment in our process transformation training and coaching, organizations can recapture and reinvest $30,000 to $75,000 of labor annually. Learn more about what organizations are budgeting for in this companion blog post: This Year, Plan to Succeed!

Contact Lee Kuntz to share what you see at your organization and to learn more about how your organization can thrive during these challenging times. Other organizations are moving forward during these difficult times, your organization can too.

Incorporate humanity into software

Address Our Humanity in New Software Installation

June 22, 2020 | 8:30 am

Is your foundation installing new grantmaking or CRM software? Many times, staff are excited to have a new system, but they are hesitant to give up what is familiar and proven. Some philanthropic organizations address these emotions by developing a comprehensive software install plan. Such a plan addresses process change management steps as well as the questions, concerns, and reservations of the people who will implement them. Leaders who took these human factors into account say their investment in thorough planning more than paid off.

The Challenge

More than one hundred philanthropic organizations change grantmaking systems each year. This once-in-a-decade or so task is an expensive and risky venture. Given that most foundations install a new system quite infrequently, employees are understandably unfamiliar with the conversion process. And even though some employees may be tired of the old software, are they ready to significantly change their work processes, roles, and controls to maximize the new system?

One foundation spent a couple million dollars on a new grantmaking system and CRM only to have employees bypass the labor-saving features of the new system. They continued their manual work arounds, including old work steps, spreadsheets, and piles of paper. All the expensive, state-of-the-art bells and whistles that the new system offered went unused.

A Solution

Achieving buy-in from staff members who will use the new system on a daily basis is a huge contributor to software success. Therefore, meeting employees where they are and readying them to implement the changes ahead is an important project step. Recently we surveyed philanthropic leaders, asking what steps they included in their new software plan to prepare employees for the pending conversion. More than half (58%) of survey respondents said they invested in human and process change management training during their new system install.

Their outcomes? Participants said their training addressed human change-management skills, empowering employees to question how work is done, business policies, and roles and responsibilities. Many also said they believed this training helped them achieve improved outcomes during the new software install and ongoing.

How Does Human and Process Change Management Training Look?

Is your philanthropic organization interested in learning how human and process change management training looks? Register for this upcoming free webinar: Not Just Plug and Play – Process, People and New System Install.

Also, contact Lee Kuntz to discuss your journey and challenges. Lee can share how others who have installed new software have achieved success by incorporating both human and process change management training into their installation plan. Many foundations have helped their employees embrace new and better ways to approach their daily tasks using a new software system You can too!

Go Virtual to Improve Results During Emergencies

June 10, 2020 | 11:20 am

Here in Minneapolis and across our nation, these are challenging times for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Local emergencies, impactful opportunities to speak up, and the COVID-19 pandemic are creating serious new needs in communities across the country. Organizations that were already operating at or near capacity find themselves trying to stretch their resources even further while simultaneously managing the disruptions caused by a shift to remote work, declining donations, and a volatile stock market. As a result, many organizations are struggling to meet their goals.

Learn how some organizations are going virtual to improve their nonprofit operations and results to their community through my recently published article in The Sustainable Nonprofit blog from PND by Candid.
Go Virtual to Improve Results During Emergencies

How to Reimage Business Processes for Software Implementation Success

May 28, 2020 | 4:15 pm

Have you installed new software that was universally embraced and paid for itself quickly, perhaps even within 24 months?

Attaining widespread employee buy-in at an affordable price is a worthy but difficult goal. Yet as new software competes for funding with other good ideas, achieving this is important. Business process redesign can help philanthropic organizations realize this measure of success.

The Challenge

Philanthropic organizations replace software, including their big grantmaking systems, every five to twenty years. That makes sense, as the philanthropic industry is growing. Contributions to donor-advised funds totaled $37.12 billion in 2018. This represents an 86 percent increase in contributions over the past five years. The related grants increased likewise.

Growth in grantmaking often necessitates employing new tools to stay ahead of the workload. Leaders of philanthropic organizations need to build a strong case to justify investment in costly new software. The best-case scenario is when the new software pays for itself within 12 to 24 months. In order to achieve such a favorable return on investment, employees throughout the organization need to be open to change and willing to explore all that the software has to offer. Business process redesign engages employees in fully learning and embracing new software, inviting them to fully leverage it.

Business Process Redesign Impact

Recently, three experienced technology leaders and I spoke at a Technology Association of Grantmakers webinar about how to leverage business process redesign to promote software acceptance and a quick return on investment. Key points:

  • Including the right business process redesign steps in the new software install plan helps the team achieve success.
  • Each organization must identify key factors about its own situation before it can design steps to reimage how work is done.
  • Proven tools can help foundations identify the best process redesign steps for their unique situation.

Check out this new, free tool that can inform your thinking about software implementation: Business Process Redesign Steps for New Software Success.

Contact me, Lee Kuntz, at info@improveprocess.net for a no-cost discussion of your situation and recommended steps to redesign your business processes.

Foundations have realized substantial benefits from their new software investment through leveraging our business process transformation coaching and training. You can too!

Invest in Better Outcomes with Virtual Training and Coaching

April 22, 2020 | 4:33 pm

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.

Proven tools

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.

Turn Remote Operations Risk into Amazing Results

March 17, 2020 | 12:47 pm

Is your office in remote mode? So many teams are now working from home as we collectively battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work can reduce personal and community health risk. Yet it can be unhealthy for your organization. Remote work can be slower and less accurate, impacting your organization and your community. A key question in this transition is: With this big change of unknown duration, how will your team continue to serve your community in a seamless way?

Key Risks

Teams that move to remote work find key risks.
o Paper piles of work are no longer visible, resulting in stalled or forgotten work.
o In-person double checks and communication may not happen, resulting in errors and embarrassment.
o Quickly made process adjustments to fit remote operations create the risk of errors and missed steps.
o Back-and-forth online communications may slow work down, consuming already tight capacity.

The Solution

Remote work is an opportunity to redesign your processes to regain capacity, maintain quality, keep up speed, and preserve your reputation. Some organizations are using proven process transformation tools to achieve these goals. For example, as a result of our process transformation work, one foundation recaptured time while delivering error-free results for three years. This group became an effective cross-organization team, performing better and accomplishing more in a consistently high-quality manner.

Is this what you are looking for?

If your team is going remote, connect with process improvement coach Lee Kuntz about a live, online checkup for your key processes. We use our proven process transformation coaching, training, and tools to help you mitigate risk and deliver upon your organization’s commitments. Checking up on small processes can be done in a couple hours.

Contact Lee to discuss how your team can create a seamless transition to remote processes while maintaining and growing great results.

New System Install Success

Discover Your Team’s Process Improvement Opportunity

January 13, 2020 | 7:26 am

Every day teams can manage their processes to deliver winning results. By both improving and controlling critical processes, these teams can both make a big impact and get home at night.

Most of us have improved processes. We have tweaked the steps of work, fixed breaks, and automated. The next step—process management—is a powerful approach that can be the difference between failure and success.

Now you can measure your team’s process management muscles through an eight-question survey. This survey helps you see beyond tweaking, to fix pain points and transform outcomes. Through the survey’s results, you can discover your team’s process management strengths and opportunities.

Select the survey answer that best reflects how your team handles your critical processes. Eight-Question Survey Link

Do you want to learn more about how these important concepts can create results for your team? Then complete the survey, add your email address, and submit your answers, thereby emailing yourself your answers.

Our process coach and trainer Lee Kuntz will also receive a copy. Your contact information will not be used for any other purpose. Lee will then connect with you to hear and answer any questions about how each of these key process capabilities can help your team achieve the results you need.

Upgrading software? Maximize your investment with process reimaging

October 19, 2022 | 2:09 pm

When a foundation or nonprofit 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. The most effective way to do that is to use system upgrades as an opportunity to reexamine internal processes

That kind of self-reflection allows the organization to get the best return on their investment, while following best practices for a software purchase. In fact, in a recent Innovation Process Design survey, 100% of participants said process design is essential when adding new software. By maximizing internal processes, organizations can get employees out of the back office and back to serving their communities.

“It’s important to have a high-level outlook of what outcomes drive the process and not be married to current processes in order to achieve the same result in a more efficient manner,” wrote one respondent.

“I can’t imagine how you can put in new software without reimaging the process,” wrote another.

In all, 24 philanthropic and nonprofit organizations completed the survey. Approximately half of respondents were financial leaders. The other half were grantmakers and technology leaders. Most respondents — 80% — had recent experience implementing sizable new software projects.

Exactly what reimaging should look like depends on the type of project in question. If your software installation is small or low risk, following vendor best practices or holding internal discussions may be enough. Larger or more involved projects may require an outside coach to lead the process or provide redesign training.

Wondering where to start? Here are a few key questions to answer before you complete your next software purchase:

1. How should you redesign? About half of survey respondents said they typically manage process redesign internally. Another 41% said engaging an outside coach is an important part of the process. A coach’s process improvement expertise can be a powerful tool when employees are hesitant to make changes, too busy to fully focus on the task, or inexperienced in process design.

2. When should you redesign? Reimaging before selecting a new software system gives nonprofits a clear picture of how they can work more efficiently and may even help them realize they don’t yet need new software. Redesigning after a system has been selected but before it’s installed, on the other hand, allows foundations to build new processes with the new system’s capabilities in mind. Building processes after the system is in place is another viable option, but respondents said it often feels like “trying to build a plane while it’s in the air.” Half of respondents to the Innovation Process Design survey said the best time to redesign is after selecting the new system and before installation. Meanwhile, another 37% say redesigning before selecting a new system is the way to go, and the final 12% say redesign should be done after the new system is in place.

3. Should you go big? The answer to this question may depend on the size of your software purchase or the needs of your processes, but 60% of survey respondents said they received more benefit from major process redesign than from minimal or no redesign. For some, going big led to better outcomes, faster implementation, and more significant return on a major systems investment, while giving team members the confidence to ask and resolve questions. In addition, 58% of participants combined process improvement training with redesign. These organizations said they received significant value from process training and this approach.

Understanding the goals of work is the first level of process redesign. It creates a framework that organizations can use as they proceed to the second level, which includes process work — identifying the structure of who does what, and when they do it. The third level is process detail — identifying the screens, fields, reports, and steps used to complete the work. However, all organizations should incorporate level three – process detail – when implementing a new software system.

Once an organization has a clear picture of its needs and the scope of the software project at hand, the team can identify the steps needed for reaching its goal — whether that involves a major design or a few simple process tweaks. This thinking is summarized in a matrix you can use to identify the specific process redesign steps to help your team be successful. See the matrix and survey summary report here: Summary of Reimage Processes for New Software Survey

Changing the way things have always been done is intimidating, and there are inherent risks. But applying time-tested resources in a way that best meets your nonprofit’s needs will make it easier to successfully manage the twists and turns of process transformation.

Solve the Donor-Advised Fund Squeeze

October 19, 2022 | 2:07 pm

Donor-advised funds are a big growth area for foundations. More donors are contributing to these accounts at their favorite foundation than ever before. Yet these funds provide little margin to pay for the services they require. Foundations are squeezed between low margins and high service requirements as the number of funds climbs.

Some foundations address this challenge through maximizing each donation opportunity. Some are looking internally. These foundations are decreasing the labor and cost to serve donor-advised funds while delivering better and faster results to their contributors.

What is a Donor-Advised Fund?

When a donor contributes to a donor-advised fund at a public charity, that person is generally eligible to take an immediate tax deduction. Then those funds are invested for tax-free growth, and the giver can recommend grants to virtually any IRS-qualified public charity. Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicle in the United States, because they are one of the easiest and most tax-advantageous ways to give.

The Squeeze

Public charities, mainly foundations, receive minimal fees for the work they do to manage donor-advised funds. Yet these funds require substantial services, including investment management, grant payment, and grantee due diligence. For many foundations, the labor and cost of performing these tasks approaches or is greater than the fees they receive for these accounts. As these funds continue to proliferate, some foundations find that managing them siphons significant time away from fulfilling their essential purpose.

The Solution

Some of these foundations are turning to advanced process improvement to decrease their labor and costs as they support their donor-advised funds. Once they get trained on the tools that are working for community foundations, these proactive leaders are redesigning process to recapture work time while delivering consistently good service to donors.

For example, one community foundation used process implement training and coaching to go from 75 to 39 steps in completing donor-advised grants. Once the new steps were implemented, their average processing time dropped from 50 minutes to only 25 minutes. With the savings of time, the foundation is able to deliver grants more predictably and efficiently—to the delight of donors and the nonprofits that receive those grants. In addition, the recaptured work time is now being used to address other community needs.

Build Capacity through Advanced Process Improvement

Foundation leaders are savvy. They constantly tinker to improve how back-office work is done. But the donor-advised grant squeeze may require more than a few tweaks in process. It may require making an investment in advanced process improvement.

Contact Lee Kuntz to learn how to address this squeeze through redesigning processes. Several community foundations have built their process knowledge and redesigned their donor-advised fund processes to recapture thousands of hours and deliver better and faster results. You can too!

Contact Lee today to discuss your challenge.