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Posts from the ‘Best Practices’ Category

Workforce Planning for Today… And the Future

If you are out perusing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) site you might come across some useful information around Workforce Planning.  But when you Google “Government Workforce Planning” this is where you’ll get your best results.  Right off the bat you see links pop up for WA, MA, and CA.  So, naturally I was curious and decided to check out their sites.

My first stop was the State of Washington.  Under the State Human Resources tab there is a whole section on Workforce Planning.  Their Workforce Planning Model is broken down into four component; Issues, Goals, Objectives, & Strategies.  The goal is to hone in on the strategies that are really going to impact improving performance.  With an action plan in place, supervisors can get involved by doing some Operational Workforce Planning of their own.

Next stop, State of Massachusetts.  You can find their Workforce Planning section under HR Policies.  They have a different model from WA by which they include the action plan, but it follows a similar four-step path.  They begin with analyzing the current workforce, then identifying future workforce needs, establishing the gap between the present and future, and finally implementing solutions to address the gaps between the present and future workforce needs.  Efforts to secure institutional knowledge and develop the skills of existing employees is a top priority for the state.

Last stop is across the country to the State of California.  California keeps their Workforce Planning in a section called State Supervisors/Managers under the Dept of Human Resources site. They consider their Workforce Planning Model a phased approach:

  • Phase 1: Set the strategic direction for the Workforce Plan
  • Phase 2: Gather and analyze departmental data for the Workforce Plan
  • Phase 3: Develop the workforce strategy and plan
  • Phase 4: Implement Strategies
  • Phase 5: Evaluate the Workforce Plan

As the future remains uncertain, California is focused on matching the right people to the right jobs.  Forecasting plays an important role in their strategy so they are better prepared for what lies ahead.

Though California has a larger employee size, the problem is the same as WA, MA, and other states across the nation.  This is just a sample of the strategies put in place by states to aid in succession planning and retention efforts.  Each plan is unique to it’s state, but not so unique that others can’t glean some good ideas from each other.

Is having a ‘Smart City’ important?

To me, the term “Smart City” always felt like a fictitious phrase made up by someone in marketing.  I’m probably more cynical than most since I come from the marketing world, but I wondered how you could debate a city was smart or not.  And does that mean the other cities are dumb?  No, of course not, but as I’ve researched this topic I have noticed that some cities do exemplify the definition of Smart Cities.  Yes, there is a Wikipedia page devoted to this.  In short, the term refers to the creation of knowledge infrastructure through technology and data.

Last month I attended the Smart Cities & Counties Summit put on by the Public Technology Institute (PTI).  They put on a great conference and gathered some outstanding cities and counties to come together for best practice sharing.  At that point, I got to really understand why the term “smart” was used.  Topics included 311, GIS, fiber optic broadband, transportation, etc…  But from the topics were overlying themes of efficiency, collaboration, and an overall goal of wanting to build a better community.  So for a city to be “smart” it doesn’t just adopt new technology and say “we are cutting edge”, it uses technology alongside people to look for ways to grow.  Here are just a few of the cities that presented on their initiatives at the summit:

  • City of Minneapolis is using analytics and data to make better decisions across departments and better coordination of city operations.
  • City of Charlotte is building solutions to connect the city and it’s citizens with sites like Open Charlotte and the Code for Charlotte Brigade complete with it’s own hack-a-thon.
  • City of Columbus is working with academia and businesses to conduct research on sustainability and economic development.

Workforce development was another element of Smart Cities that found its way into the conversations.  After all, what is a city without its employees delivering services and its citizens being part of a workforce to stimulate the economy?  Smart cities (or any city for that matter) are seeing a new generation come in with different skill sets while an older generation makes plans for retirement.  Workforce development plans proactively look for ways to bridge this gap and transfer knowledge to move forward with succession efforts. Technology can play a role in this by way of educational/training tools, workforce management solutions, and talent acquisition.

So, this brings us back to question, ‘Is having a smart city important?’.  Some will argue that it is subjective so therefore the title is up for grabs for any city who deems themselves worthy.  I say, the smart city title is important, but only if the ultimate goal is bringing government and it’s citizens together.  So far, I like what I see.

 

A Primer on Public Sector Big Data

Today’s blog is from Don Pagel, VP Public Sector Services at Kronos.

Big Data, Data Warehousing, Data Marts, Analytics, Business Intelligence….all are part of the same evolution of the growing digital world, the data it generates and the structured information contained therein.

 

As computer systems began to house databases of transactional data, users and executives have asked for more and more “reporting” from those systems to investigate problems, maximize efficiencies within processes, and my favorite in the public sector, or determine solutions or answers based on factual information rather than supposition or anecdotal experiences. In recent years the data generated by all of the systems we use and the potential interrelated information from disparate systems has generated voluminous amounts of data…thus “Big Data”.

 

The public sector is beginning to use analytical tools to mine all of the data they have to inform their constituents, look for efficiencies and also to help off-set some political “agendas” by focusing on facts. Public safety organizations use collected data to look for geographical or date-specific trends to help staff for the best use of safety manpower as well as educate the public on what is going on in their areas. Human resource departments regularly extract and update public pay and benefits data to reduce demand on their staff for public information requests. Executives are finding value in workforce management data to determine labor productivity and improve resource and budget management. Finance departments are unifying all of their collections data into one analytical format from disparate systems in order to gage how well they are collecting outstanding fines and fees, develop metrics to monitor and look for ways to enhance processes to improve collections. Parking and Police departments are collaborating on vast amounts of data collected by license plate recognition equipment and software to share information that can be valuable to both organizations. Parking departments are also learning the value of parking transaction data for both numerous supply and demand calculations as well as justifying new garage or meter placements. Traffic managers have long used data to determine traffic patterns but now can use that same data to automate lane use or determine where the next road work or expansion is necessary.

 

Putting some thought into structuring data within a larger organization that may contain multiple systems can lead to an easier delivery of many of the above ideas, allow for “drill-down” structured online reporting as well as simpler ad-hoc querying to more easily find true factual information in a political environment. This is not generally an inexpensive project, but it can pay off handsomely for years to come. If your organization hasn’t started a Big Data project, I suggest you consider the following:

 

  • Take an assessment of all of the different important systems you have and determine their purpose.
  • What data is being stored on each system?
  • Are their proprietary analytic programs already on a system that can be used to export data to a larger environment?
  • Is there an opportunity in an external database to link these disparate data sets together? Over time, you may initiate some data normalization of different systems in order to link data easier.
  • Now that you have a data storage strategy for your important data, what are your current pain points that you most want to solve with data? Start small or start focused on just those pain points. There will be a tendency to over-develop analytics that may or may not be useful. Since you spent time up front on your data storage strategy, you can build them as needed so they have the greatest impact and potential use by your organizations.
  • Develop a plan to use the analytical tools developed in a structured way or using a process. In other words, don’t just make them available, develop a process or policy for their use.
  • Use dashboards that are visible to wide audiences so that there is a natural draw to the information as well as a natural desire to improve the results. Visibility can create powerful competition.
  • Develop education around the data being displayed. Don’t assume that others will know what the data is saying or how to use it to improve results.

 

In short, Big Data is collecting the vast amounts of data we have and putting it to good public use. You have the data, it’s a shame for it to go to waste

Learning from your neighbors

At the recent NASPE Conf in Nashville, I witnessed the kind of best practice sharing that can only really happen in the Public Sector.  Private Sector companies are so fiercely competitive that they miss out on learning from each other.   But in Public Sector, in this case State Government, they just have to turn to their neighboring state and say “here’s how we do it”.   NASPE (National Association of State Personnel Executives) is an organization dedicated to State Government Human Resource leaders who come together so they don’t have to go at new initiatives alone.  They acquire knowledge from each other, because who really wants to reinvent the wheel?  I’ll share some examples:

  • Succession Planning – Trish Holliday, Chief Learning Officer and Assistant Commissioner, State of Tennessee, walked the NASPE audience through the strategy Tennessee is implementing to make it through the “silver tsunami”.  Read her article, Success(ion) Planning: The Learning Community Circle of Life in HR Professionals Magazine.
  • Onboarding – Jim Honchar, Deputy Secretary of Human Resources and Management, Governors Office of Administration, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, recently shared the states’ move to creating a more simplified process for new hires.  Read Governing Magazine’s article, How Pennsylvania Is Helping New Hires Get to Work Faster for the a detailed description.

All you have do is look at the agenda to know this is the kind of meeting that makes you want to go back to the office and implement change.  Oh, and did I mention it’s a small, intimate group so everyone has an opportunity to get to know each other.  It’s inspiring to hear how Human Resources sees their department as leaders in transformation.  They know the impact they have on the employees in turn has a direct impact on citizens within their state.   More importantly, though, they learn from their neighbors’ triumphs and mistakes.