Lessons learnt from NDIS Transitions

For the last 18 months we have been assisting nearly 100 disability providers in SA with their NDIS transition journeys.  It has been an interesting ride and a steep learning curve for all involvedLessons learnt NDIS (clients and consultants alike) as we’ve ridden through the white water NDIS landscape.  As the year is coming to a close and our direct involvement with our current clients is coming to an end, it is time to reflect on the strategic impact of the NDIS in a People and Culture context.

While it is tempting to prioritise a ‘top five list’ of things to focus on, it might be more useful to talk about the ‘organisational hygiene factors’ required to succeed in an NDIS environment. These will not be prioritised, but rather seen as a collection of interdependent people and culture success factors that need attention.


Strategy, strategy, strategy

Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable – Dwight Eisenhower

Strategic planning is an oxymoron – Henry Mintzberg

Whichever side of the fence you sit on in regards to strategic planning, there is one basic truth; Have it and it doesn’t guarantee anything, don’t have it and it guarantees aimlessness.

The process of strategic planning has remained much the same over the decades however, I’ve noticed that strategic planning documents are getting thinner!  Glossy, high colour one page documents are becoming the norm (finally!).  So if less is definitely more, we need to accommodate this trend and be punchy and attention grabbing.

The outcome for People & Culture executives?  This document becomes the centre of everything we do.  Every initiative, practice and policy must be tied back to this document. Our specialist expertise should be a proactive critical engagement with this process. Understand your business, know the external operating environment, contribute, critique and ask informed questions to add value to this process.


People & Culture goes hand in hand with Marketing

If you are lucky enough to have a marketing team, then form a partnership.  These two functions go together like peaches and cream – separately they can tick boxes, but together, you get something unique, unified and much more appetising!

The main synergy to get right is your brand DNA and resultant employee value proposition (EVP).  Never underestimate the effect of your organisation‘s brand value in the marketplace.  It attracts customers, clients and prospective employees to your doorstep.  In a time of ‘shallow talent pools’ and skills shortages in our sector, we need to have this firmly on our strategic agenda.

If you do not have in-house marketing/HR expertise, it is worth engaging external assistance.  After all, you would engage a financial professional with CPA qualifications to go through your books.  You might even find that external investment positively affecting your balance sheet in the long run.


Values and culture is your foundation; Inspiring leadership drives performance

OK, we hear this a lot.  So much so, that it’s starting to sound old hat, part of the background noise and identical to what everyone is saying. ‘Our people are our greatest asset’ no longer cuts the mustard. Having ‘collaborative leadership styles’ is not really inspiring anymore.  Our audience (workforce) is getting more sophisticated and we are stuck using terms that they have grown out of. The intention of the messages are OK, don’t get me wrong here.  What I often fail to see, is the ‘walk’ or the ‘how to’ behind these declarations.

What are the structures and frameworks that support the ‘talk’?  How do we ensure that ‘walk’ is empowering, engages with technology, measures our targets, focuses on results and people?  In short; how can you harness the energies in your workforce and tap into that huge discretionary effort where initiative and potential resides?  This is the area to dabble in, and believe me, there is no step by step process to guide us towards organisational peak performance.  We will make up the steps as we go along, and those steps will be different for each of us.  If it was easy to do, then everyone would be doing it!


Place the people that you serve at the centre of your universe

We are often so focussed on what we have to do in our organisations, that we forget the needs of the people that we serve and the general community.  At worst I’ve seen customers treated inappropriately – like an interruption to someone’s ‘to-do list’!  Our customers provide us with our bread and butter and put food on our table.  Employees who don’t understand and respond to this, need not apply for vacancies in your organisation.

Take the time to check with your stakeholders (customers and workforce) on their level of expectations and the quality of your exchange in services.  Conduct surveys, quick pulse checks on service levels, check for underlying needs, are your products and services still relevant, are they changing, conduct focus groups for in-depth feedback.  There is no shortage of methods to get feedback – we need the fortitude and desire to learn about our stakeholders and to be stronger than the desire to stand still and hear meaningless superficial feedback that results in BAU.


Manage change before it manages you

Full stop. Employees need a reason to change, so give them one. Then work together to make a new future. Listen to your employees who are confirmed resistors – they usually have a different way at looking at things that we cannot afford to ignore.  Communicate with them, ask them lots of questions and overall have an open mind to their point of view. They are resisting for a reason – it’s up to us to find out what that reason is and then engage them early in the planning process. If they are still refusing to come to the party after all your efforts to engage them, then it’s time to discuss their suitability for the organisation and the other possibilities out there for them.

As with all hygiene factors, merely being on top of these things does not guarantee success – it will however form part of the ‘cost of doing business’. It’s the things that we do between the lines that brings these together to help us remain sustainable, competitive and here for the sake of our communities, the people that we serve and the sector that we support through meaningful employment.

Andrea Collett

Andrea Collett
Senior HR Consultant
Phone: 0422 437 153
Email: acollett@cbb.com.au

Which CRM/database to use?

The National Disability Services (NDS) ‘State of the Sector’ report highlighted that the number one priority for NDIS providers in relation to improving their business capability in 2019CRM ready, is ‘Information, communications and tech strategy’, ranking ahead of ‘costing and pricing’ and ‘HR strategy and workforce planning’.

Over the last months, CBB has facilitated a review of some of the many Customer Relationship Management (CRM)/database products on the market that purport to be NDIS-ready, to assist NDIS providers to understand which products should be on their radar.

The final results are currently being compiled and our report will be published before the end of the year. To receive a copy of the full report when it is ready, add your details here.

In this article we provide some tips for any NDIS provider currently assessing their options in relation to implementation of a single point of truth CRM solution.

Tips to assist you in the process of choosing a CRM/database for your organisation

If your organisation intends embarking on a project to assess, short-list, choose and implement a CRM/database, here are some tips to assist you in the process:

  • Be clear on what you are trying to achieve: is it back-office efficiency (including rostering), customer outcomes measurement, compliance with legislative obligations etc. Any CEO of a not for profit NDIS provider organisation will likely be asked by the Board to present a business case that will require a full assessment of costs (including implementation costs) and benefits.
  • Sign up for as many free product demos as you can, and include at least a couple of frontline workers in the demos. It is one thing to choose a product that works for management, but it’s arguably more important to choose a product that frontline workers will find easy to use; you know the old saying, “rubbish in, rubbish out”.
  • If you don’t have an in-house CIO, IT Manager or Business Analyst, bring one in on a temporary basis to manage the requirement articulation, product selection and implementation.
  • After you have finalised your mandatory evaluation criteria, ask your short-listed vendors to submit a written response, scoring themselves using a very clear scoring criteria, just as insurance against any over-promises regarding standard functionality.
  • Be realistic about the time you will need to spend to transition from your old systems to the new CRM. Key pieces of work during implementation may include:
    • Assess the pros/cons of adopting the product’s standard functionality, which may involve amending your existing business procedures to fit. Be wary of extensive configuration and customisation where it isn’t going to add value to your customers. This can affect future product updates, complicate any future changes and add to your ongoing costs. It is better to focus on the required outcomes, rather than trying to replicate current processes that may not be efficient.
    • Document any system interdependencies so that the vendor is made aware of other in-house systems that will need to interface (talk) to the new CRM system such as the finance/billing system.
    • Prepare a detailed project implementation plan prior to signing a contract with the vendor, so that both parties are agreed on the steps and timeframes and also who is responsible for what.
    • Make sure your implementation plan includes testing the new CRM to ensure it meets requirements as specified to the vendor. Also make sure that your contract is clear on who will pay for bug fixes during the testing phase, in the period post implementation and in the longer term.
    • Cleanse historical data and transfer to the new database. Ensure your implementation plan includes checking of the data post transfer to ensure that it has been transferred correctly and records have not been corrupted.
    • Include a back-out strategy in your implementation plan, to be used in the event that the implementation does not go smoothly and you need to revert to the old CRM. Make this the responsibility of the vendor so that they can prepare accordingly.
    • Ensure your implementation plan includes a provision for some post implementation support, so that the vendor is aware they will need to be promptly available should any problems arise.
    • Involve your staff (the CRM users) when documenting your requirements for the new CRM. Staff should also be involved in the testing process, as they can easily identify what is not working, or missing.
    • Assess hardware requirements including portable devices and server capacity.
    • Provide comprehensive training for frontline staff to ensure that they optimise functionality of the new product.
    • Provide training for management to ensure they understand how to use reports and performance dashboard metrics.
    • Train/educate customers to ensure that they get maximum value from the customer portal (where applicable).
  • Ask the vendor for referees, being NDIS providers that have undergone a very recent implementation. You want to talk to referees who know NDIS inside-out. When you talk to referees, some of the questions you may like to ask include:
    • What product/s were you using previously and why did you decide to change?
    • How many products did you assess?
    • Why did you choose this product, and which products ranked second and third on your list?
    • What are the three biggest issues you experienced during implementation?
    • Have you surveyed frontline staff and customers as to whether they like the product? If not, what feedback have you had in relation to usability?
  • Talk to providers that are using the product that weren’t put forward as referees. Salespeople will rarely introduce you to someone that has had a troubled experience with implementation or use of their product, but you may learn a lot from a quick chat with such organisations.
  • Ask vendors the question, “When next we meet face to face, can you please show me a copy of your product development road map?”. (Note: vendors would be highly unlikely to give you a copy of this, but shouldn’t have any issue in showing it to you face to face.)

To receive a copy of the full report when it is ready, add your details here.

Brendon Grail

Brendon Grail
NDIS Transition Lead Consultant
Email: bgrail@cbb.com.au
Phone: 1300 284 364

Blogs are important, improve your ROI

Content marketing is an excellent way of explaining to people why you do what you do. One of the simplest ways to start is with a blog. A website blog has numerous benefits, it:blogging

  • helps you connect your organisation to people;
  • improves your website’s search engine optimisation and search engine ranking;
  • increases traffic to your website and keeps people coming back;
  • positions your organisation as an industry leader;
  • allows people to get to know individuals within your organisation; and
  • informs people that you are keeping up with today’s issues and the information on your website is up to date and regularly refreshed

When we design websites for clients, they often say they don’t want a blog. The usual reason for not blogging is that it takes too much time and effort, so here are a few tips to maximise your blog’s return on investment:

  • Adopt the hub and spoke model: Your blog should be at the centre of your online communications. This is where you should put all your valuable content. Then, killing multiple birds with one stone, share your blog posts via relevant social media pages. Use an enticing description, an appealing image to grab people’s attention, and a link to your blog.
  • Make sure you monitor your blog’s performance. Certain posts will outperform others. Look for trends and then target new content around these trends. Don’t waste time writing something no-one will read.
  • You don’t have to have a written blog, you can easily create podcasts on your smart phone with apps such as Anchor. Inviting external contributors to join you on a Q&A session is a great way to bring expertise to your blog, with the added benefit of increasing your blog’s reach when you get them to share the post.
  • Your blog is an RSS feed – and that is a good thing. It means you can send automated newsletters in a few steps. Yes that’s right – set it up once and then monitor the results.

Send out a weekly or monthly newsletter via an automated campaign, using an email marketing service (MailChimp, Campaign Monitor etc.) to pull the latest blog posts directly from your website and automatically email them to your contacts.

If you categorise your articles (as you should to allow easy navigation) and you have segmented your contacts, you will only send relevant articles to relevant people.

  • Blog posts don’t have to be long. There could be an extra 20 points on this list, but would you get to the end?

Adding links to your other posts helps reduce the length of an individual blog, while still providing valuable information. If you are new to content marketing or need some pointers you can read our content marketing series here.

Having a blog makes your content marketing easier not harder. So add a blog to your website today and reap the rewards. If your website is powered by a content management system like WordPress or Squarespace you can add a blog within a few clicks, or speak to your web developer. If you need help creating a content marketing plan, get in touch with our marketing consulting team via marketingteam@cbb.com.au


Tom Rippon
Marketing Consultant
Email: trippon@cbb.com.au
Phone: 1300 763 505

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework: Best practices for preventing compliance toothaches

Just like the recall letter for a dental check-up NDIS providers in SA and NSW have recently received their letter from the NDIS Commission outlining the start date for registration renewal. TheNDIS quality application for renewal will involve a self-assessment followed by a field audit conducted by a NDIS Commission-approved NDIS quality auditor.

While some providers are already expected to start the process by October, others are due for their check-up in 2019. Most providers are aware that the new Quality & Safeguards Framework has introduced a list of requirements however we have noticed some misconceptions about compliance which we aim to brush away:

Misconception # 1: You only brush your teeth when you see the dentist.

Continue reading…

Four free tools to make your website accessible for everyone

When thinking about accessibility, we mainly think about people with a disability being able to navigate our website. This is an important focus but providing a better user experience is important not only for users with a disability but for everyone.Accessible website

Thinking more broadly about making your website’s content accessible in multiple ways, to suit a broader audience, can help you to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Changing the page structure, thinking about terminology, improving readability, labelling images correctly, or even something as simple as making it easier for your readers to share one of your blog posts or pages are good improvements.

Your website should also work for older and younger users, non-English speaking users and people with a temporary impairment. It might sound strange, but someone with a fuzzy head from a hangover or the flu who is trying to use a site will also benefit from it being more accessible.

At Community Business Bureau, we use accessibility tools on our own website and on websites we have developed for our clients. They are free and easy to install so you don’t need a web developer in-house. With basic web management knowledge, you can do it all by yourself!  Here they are: Continue reading…

Talent Management Part 4– Measuring success

In this Talent Management series (Part one: Do you have a lack of talent?, Part two: exploring the employee journey and Part three: getting confused with definitions?) we have defined Talent SuccessManagement as a series of interconnected development activities that when executed thoughtfully, add value to the employee journey and the organisation’s brand.

As our sector continues to grapple with the VUCA environment and shrinking risk appetites from Boards and executive leaders, there has never been a more crucial time to invest in our organisations. This puts pressure on workforce leaders to provide evidence based measures of program success. Continue reading…