Strategic Consulting (5)

Monday, 28 October 2013 16:58

Project Management

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Project Management Professional logoOne of Ursa Major's strengths is project management, which is important in every domain.  In addition to a great many years of project management experience, our consultants are also certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as Project Management Professionals (PMPs).

Earning the PMP designation indicates that project managers understand the use of standardized methodologies for project management, including issues such as risk management, stakeholder analysis, resource management, and performance analysis.  Good project managers know how to deliver cost effective projects on time.

In theory, this means prioritizing and balancing cost, schedule, and scope. In practice, in addition to building a reasonably complete work breakdown structure, accurate estimate, and achievable schedule, it means listening and communicating as well as managing within a contract.  It also means tackling areas of perceived risk to reduce or eliminate them early in the process.

So rest assured, we'll keep you up to date on project progress and work with you to ensure success!

Monday, 28 October 2013 16:56

Enterprise Architecture

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There comes a time to re-assess business processes and information technology in use. The catalyst may be recognition that processes are not effective, that the business is facing new challenges, that technology needs a refresh and people are stuck in their old ways. Frequently, there is pressure to do more with less.

Ursa Major helps clients align business processes with strategy.  We start with the big picture, and ask for the strategic plan and other guidance to understand where the organization is focused.  In some cases, we've conducted a gap analysis or facilitated strategic planning to update an organization's goals and objectives, prior to delving into the details of its business processes.

Our approach is to work closely with client personnel, to both model their existing processes and lead them though an innovation process to encourage creativity and explore new alternatives. In key areas, we help them conduct benchmarking with other organizations to identify best practices. Based upon the results, we model and facilitate concensus around new processes and develop an implementation plan.

This process is called Enterprise Architecture (EA):  alignment of business processes to achieve mission objectives, supported by appropriate technology, and measurable by appropriate performance measures.  The Federal government has realized that business-led architecture is more successful in meeting strategic goals and responding to changing mission needs than technology- or budget-driven architecture. The Federal EA Practice Guidance summarizes it in the image below:

The EA provides a shared view of the current and future state. Prioritizing investments by segment helps define the implementation and funding strategy, and executing implementation plans provide strategic results that are measured by improved mission outcomes.  The results also provide feedback into the architecture development processes for additional phases of improvements.

We have done EA for federal agencies, using federal standards, and for commercial and nonprofit organizations.  We  have conducted workshops and focus groups nationwide both in person and using virtual / social networking technologies, to develop integrated processes and systems spanning organizational boundaries.  The abilities and expertise are in your organizations -- you just need some help to get it all organized. The results are always impressive!

Most recently, in 2013, we conducted an EA analysis of Management Touchpoints for the U. S. Marine Corps' Enterprise Business Transformation Office.


Sunday, 27 October 2013 03:51

Performance Management

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Photo of targetOur approach to performance management is that:

  • You have got to get clear on your goals before you measure performance, and
  • Once you measure performance, it means nothing if you don't use the information to manage your operation to achieve results.

We therefore work with organizations to make sure that their goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound), and develop strategies to support making the measurement results actionable.

Strategic Plan CoverUrsa Major's approach to strategic planning services is (1) tailored, (2) informed, (3) collaborative, (4) effective, and (5) focused.  We regularly team with International Leadership Consulting / Catoctin Consulting and provide an experienced team to facilitate consensus on goals, objectives, strategies, performance measures and targets, and reflect the business knowledge of the organization and its stakeholders that participate in the process.

  1. Tailored.  We understand the specific needs of the organization, and tailor the methodology to meet their needs.
    We have extensive experience with a number of frameworks, including brainstorming, creative problem solving, the Balanced Scorecard, performance-based budgeting and the logic model.
  2. Informed.  We analyze the current state of the organization compared with existing strategic and business plans, and the external environment, review perforamnce results, and interview key stakeholders to conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, and possible goal areas. We may do data mining or trend analysis of performance data or conduct gap analyses.
  3. Collaborative. We conduct design meeting(s) with the organization's planning team and plan group and stakeholder participation to develop buy-in through facilitated collaboration. We tap into existing experience of diverse stakeholders and obtain cross-organizational input.
  4. Effective.  We have an extensive set of field-tested tools and templates and may develop strawman plans to speed the process. We use non-threatening techniques and small group work to draw out those who may be reluctant to speak, honor everyone's participation, and focus the discussion. We use technology where appropriate.
  5. Focused. We design and facilitate meetings and workshops to achieve objectives. We document meeting results and support the organization in implementation, assessment, and performance management.

Interview in OfficeWhen we undertake an organizational assessment, we select the appropriate tools and techniques to meet the specific objectives. We may use interviews, surveys, assessment instruments, and/or facilitated workshops.

Our team includes several consultants with PhDs who specialize in survey research and ensuring the validity of results. We design instruments and administered surveys using a variety of techniques, including web-based and email surveys.

We have conducted analyses and studies covering a wide variety of objectives and methodologies – program evaluation, strategic planning, need assessment, communications research, marketing research, segmentation, demographic research, concept tests, customer/patient satisfaction, qualitative research, and litigation support studies.

For example, we recently met with department managers and key staff of an organization trying to automate its case management functions, to determine how to "break the logjam" and help them get their implementation on track. We identified key "critical path" requirements to be researched with vendors and applied project management techniques to bring structure to the process going forward.  We are convinced that the right solution will greatly reduce redundant work, improve planning and scheduling, and overall allow the organization to continue expansion with less stress on its staff.  We really enjoy the chance to help take an organization to the next level!

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