Burgeoning Canadian municipalities might want to pay attentionto what the City of Calgary just learned: if you want to get out ofa hole, stop digging.
Calgary’s change management team was waist deep “in the vortexof despair,” but looked to process modeling to consolidate thedisparate networks that supply essential city services, accordingto Wendy Nadon, a business process consultant.
Nadon was on hand along with other representatives from Calgaryat IDS Sheer’s ProcessWorld 2006 conference in Miami this week todescribe a new time and attendance management system that went liveJan. 1.
“The lesson is, before implementing any software solution, knowwhat you want to change, the way you want to change it to, andwhy,” Nadon said. “If we had just automated without looking at whatwas really being done, we would have actually made the situationmuch worse.”
The key system tool – dubbed Aris – was used to implementPeoplesoft’s Human Capital Management suite, and had already provenits worth before the attendance project, according to Nadon.
Calgary was using a number of other PeopleSoft products,including tools for human resources, financials and supply chainmanagement, but they were installed separately over the past fiveyears without thought to integration, Nadon said.
“(Recently), there was a push to automate a cheque generationprocess,” she said. “By modeling the process with Aris (Calgary)found the portion of the process targeted for automation onlyaccounted for three per cent of the cost of the process.”
Principals went back and found the reason cheques were beinggenerated didn’t make sense, she said.
The City of Calgary has 15,000 employees and $1.98 billion inannual revenue spread across 31 business units, from fire andpolice services to roads and parks.
It’s a factor change management team lead Stephanie Loganapplied to the time management system redesign.
“The key was getting buy-in from each of the managers whosebusiness processes would be impacted by the new system,” Logansaid. “Having them formally sign-off on the proposed model andchanges before implementation began.”
Logan said the city’s different business units are very siloed,with many of them feeling like their own businesses and 16different collective bargaining agreements to contend with, makingfor a challenging situation.
“All of the business rules from our collective agreements had tobe automated into the new system and we didn’t realize how muchwork that was going to take out of our redesign,” said Logan. “Ifwe hadn’t done process modeling upfront we wouldn’t have identifiedthese problems until late in the game.”
Rather than modify the technology to fit the existing businessprocesses, as much as possible the processes themselves weremodified to keep the implementation “as vanilla” as possible,according to Logan.
“The process model provided us with a blueprint for the changes[we wanted to make],” said Logan. “A lot of times, when we were sixto eight months into implementation, we would forget why we weredoing something, and we would go back to the process model and say’ah, that’s why.'”
A Calgary-based IDS Scheer partner, Kogawa Consulting, helpedthe city through the modeling and training process.
Don King, a principal with Kogawa, said when going through anyprocess change exercise people are going to be leery about what itwill mean for them.
It’s important to remember that behind the process models thereare people, and they need to be brought on board, he said.
“If you don’t… they get the impression you don’t really careabout them and it makes it that much more difficult to implementand make it work,'” said King. “If you handle it sensitively to thepeople that are in the room usually you can come out with a win-winsolution.”
Public sector organizations tend to be more siloed than those inthe private sector, each with their own way of doing business,according to King. While those unique processes make sense withinthe organization, they don’t always promote interoperability.