Tales of Innovation in Government Finance
Just got back from Denver where I attended the 111th Annual GFOA Conference. Wow, we’ve come a long way in 111 years! What I love most about attending this event are the stories of innovation that inspire and motivate other communities to want to do more for their citizens. As I mapped out my agenda of sessions that I wanted to attend, topics like transparency, ROI, engagement strategy, and ERP looked promising.
Naturally, I was looking for some sessions that focused on the workforce and I found it in a session called “How to Measure a High Performing Finance Office”. This session was so crowded that I had to sit on the floor for the whole hour and a half. But it was worth it. Great speakers, interesting perspectives, and very informative. Brendan Hanlon, CFO at the City & County of Denver kicked things off by addressing data and how it impacts performance management. He advises to not just look at the data, but look for ways to improve performance.
Denver uses a Business Intelligence (BI) tool to help create dashboards to report and measure using data from different departments. For example, he showed a chart depicting paychecks issued through direct deposit and those issued with an actual check. The goal is defined; Get more people using direct deposit. They use the data they had to measure the progress made over the past couple of years.
The next speaker, Judith Marte, CFO at Miami-Dade County Schools, came in talking about sustainability (and not the “green” kind). No, this is the sustainability that goes hand-in-hand with succession planning. Very early in her presentation, she said “I want to have a staff who can function without me.” That statement can take anyone aback when they first hear it, but what she meant was she should not be the only one who can do her job. She must have successors who could easily step in should she leave or retire. She goes on to give advice about looking for “non-traditional” candidates and taking the inexperienced and training them.
To wrap up the session was the City of Madison Finance Director, David Schmiedicke. David approached the topic of performance by speaking to cross training your employees to address areas with the greatest need and pair up with mentors as needed. He also made an interesting point about turn-over being an opportunity. That it brings in new people who might have different skill sets and be willing to more freely embrace web-based solutions.
Overall, the theme of measuring and developing your workforce rang loud and clear. The speakers set a good example of how to engage your employees by providing opportunities to enhance skill sets, grow personally and professionally, and feedback to understand the value they bring to the community. Your employees are your single greatest asset and these leaders know how to treat them right.