There are many questions and answers provided here to help you with your decision to engage Cousins & Associates, Inc.
Questions & Answers
Q-What will be the demand on my staff?
A-Minimal, Cousins & Associates bring in its own team. This frees up your staff to continue the work they are already performing.
Q-What resources are needed for the team?
A-Furnished team office area, a large blank wall in plain view of management and staff, access to management, staff and facilities, a conference room, access to the internet and collaboration. We will provide our own PCs & Laptops.
Q-What skills are needed for the team?
A-Your staff has the skills required to make this program a success. They need to have management’s support and authorization to actively collaborate.
Q-Who comprises the team?
A-The team is made up of Cousins & Associates principals collaborating with your management and staff.
Q-How long will it take?
A-Cousins & Associates will perform a high level initial assessment of the organizations and processes identified by management as the first priorities and most likely to benefit the most with new efficiencies. This will take 30 days. We will then propose a 30-60-90 day plan for management’s input, modification and agreement. The 30-60-90 day plan will include a full project timeline and deliverables.
Q-What expertise do you have?
A-Our 30 plus years experience is in operational organization and management for complex matrixed organizations driven to achieve more in less time with reduced costs. Our advantage is focusing on your organization’s processes and efficiencies not to be experts in all functional areas. Even so we specifically engage principals with the needed backgrounds. In this way whether it be transportation, IT, security or education we create a team with knowledge of your mission. This allows Cousins & Associates, Inc. to immediately engage with management and staff in a familiar context.
Q-How is the effort managed?
A-Cousins & Associates, Inc. Has PMP expertise and manages our own teams in collaboration with your management and staff.
Q-What do you guarantee as an outcome?
A-We enter into a Shared Risk Agreement and partnership with our clients. Our retainer and expenses are minimal and mutually agreed. Our fee is only realized by the pre-agreed percentage of the cost avoidance we create and you recognize.
Q-How do you sustain the savings?
A-We have a Continuous Process Improvement component in our ACT Process®
Q-How will you work with the vendors that the agency uses?
A-Cousins & Associates, Inc. has the experience to establish or lead an existing Program Management Office (PMO) or partner as a sub-contractor with vendors. Our flexibility supports the best solution for our clients.
Q-Where will the cost savings come from?
A-Our ACT Process® identifies the changes that avoid or reduce costs. These include time regaining time for existing staff, reducing dependency on contractors, eliminating redundant processes and creating new processes to streamline operations. Use of existing information technology investments are assessed to identify improved use avoiding costly upgrades or recommend changes to leverage information technology supporting new processes. Creating efficient processes, absorbing the impact of retiring employees, and re-skilling existing employees to Do More, Efficiently are additional sources of cost avoidance.
Q-What is the most important factor in Business Process Management (BPM) success?
A-Remember that only the mission of the organization is fixed-everything else you do is open to question. The key to making and coping with change is to remove all fixed processes, procedures, and policies, and instead rely on everyone having a clear vision of success and taking initiative to get there. Hierarchies, reporting requirements, control systems, reward structures, position descriptions, processes, and functional separation, everything you learned in school or from your mentor or read in the policy manual or employee handbook are only things that have been used in the past. They are not fixed, immutable principles. There are other ways of achieving any goal consistently ask yourself, "What are we trying to achieve with this? Is this the best way to get there?" Be skeptical, and constantly be learning about what you are doing, what others are doing, and how you can do things differently.
Q-Where do the reengineering ideas come from?
A-The bad news is that the ideas do not magically spring from doing BPM. BPM is a process, not an answer. The ideas have to be there in the people who are in the organization. The good news is that the ideas almost always ARE there in the organization. Listen in the elevator, around the water cooler, on the employee shuttle, in your car pool. There is energy there for change-the trick is to focus it.
Q-How do I get the ideas out?
A-Find a good consultant. You need someone who has done it before to guide you through the process. Even if some of your management team has a vision of how things could be different, you need a process to bring the whole management team to a consensus vision. Even if you have an active organization development group, they are probably not used to managing change on this scale. Be sure you get a consultant that is really doing BPM, not just relabeling the kind of organizational consulting they have been doing for 15 years.
Q-How do I choose the right consultant?
A-Remember the second corollary. Ultimately, BPM is about examining values and beliefs of an organization. Some are in conflict with others, and some are just out of date. Beware of the consultant who claims to know what your organization needs. The consultant has to be able to help your organization find the values and beliefs that are right for you, and then help you move forward.
Q-How do I deal with resistance to the changes that will be introduced?
A-Resistance is a good thing. Resistance is caring about how things work and what is going to happen. It is much easier to deal with resistance than with apathy. Resistance is energy, and energy can usually be made to work for you once you are able to identify the concerns that cause the resistance and address them. The purpose of BPM is not to fulfill anyone's political agenda, but to move the whole organization forward. If any of the ideas that are being proposed make some people unduly concerned, maybe they need to be rethought. Remember, the new ideas are no more sacred than the old ones.
Q-Where can I learn more about doing the type of services you offer?
A-Our services are based on years of working with organizations to improve their efficiencies. There are many tools, techniques and methodologies that may or may not be applied to any one organization and their processes.
Q-What experience do you have with universities?
A- We have extensive experience working with organizations. Our expertise is not in running organizations of one specific type or another. Our experience is in identifying inefficiencies in processes that when corrected carry many benefits including cost avoidance, additional time returned to the organization, better integration, leveraged technology, new processes, work life balance, and more.
Q-Are other universities in VA using your services?
A-There are other agencies we have worked with in the Commonwealth but no universities. Again our expertises are organizationally independent of their type or industry and are focused on how to Do More, Effectively.
Q-How is Organizational Change Management (OCM) integrated with this effort?
A-Successful OCM strategies include:
Agreement on a common vision for change -- no competing initiatives.
Strong executive leadership to communicate the vision and sell the business case for change.
A strategy for educating employees about how their day-to-day work will change.
A concrete plan for how to measure whether or not the change is a success -- and follow-up plans for both successful and unsuccessful results.
Rewards, both monetary and social, that encourage individuals and groups to take ownership for their new roles and responsibilities.
Q-Do you expect existing systems to be impacted?
A-Yes. Were there to be change or impact to exiting systems then these systems would be as effective and efficient as possible.
Q-If so, how do you determine impact to existing systems?
A-Each process will reveal its unique opportunities for change. Whether this be in terms of time, resource allocation or elimination altogether. The impact on the existing systems will be assessed and verified with knowledgeable members of each organization before being recommended or implemented.
Q-How do you integrate this effort with planned system changes
A-Programs that are currently being implemented should be reviewed from time to time to insure they are achieving established goals and objectives. Cousins and Associates, Inc. can provide an Independent Verification & Validation (IV&V) of these programs and projects. In this effort, opportunities for improved efficiencies may reveal themselves and can be recommended as the program or project progresses.
Q-What differentiates you from other companies doing BPM?
A-Cousins and Associates, Inc. delivers improvements and efficiencies in Business Process Management (BPM) combining traditional process improvement, change management and process re-engineering.
Q-How long have you doing this type of work?
A-Our experience has been built over decades of working with organization to improve their operations and efficiencies.
Q-How do you propose we work together?
A-Cousins and Associated works as a team member. Depending on the policies and requirements of the client we can prime or sub to other partners.