Just because it’s a “good problem to have,” doesn’t mean organizational growing pains aren’t a problem. Doesn’t mean it isn’t painful. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be solved. In fact, utilized to get better.
A SMART workplace understands collaborative technology and builds networked systems for collaboration, communication and performance metrics around a network of teams. But how to do it? Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute (RMMFI) had a good problem, and they hired Mocko Consulting to find a good solution. In 2014, this award-winning Denver nonprofit was growing, and its impact was expanding. That brought more opportunities and more to do. And more to do meant a larger team, which meant tasks were more widely distributed.
More cooks in the kitchen. And more staff.
The team found their collaboration that used to be manageable in conversations and to-do lists was now becoming a muddled process. The team was tracking important tasks in an ad-hoc fashion on spreadsheets, but those didn’t provide good visibility over people’s workloads or projects’ progress. Priorities were not clear. Opportunities were fumbled. Too much to do and no clear plan to get it done.
It’s the opposite of workflow—maybe you’ve been there….
A People-First Process
As consultants, the good people at Mocko Consulting were able to see RMMFI’s workflow problems from a new angle. They could see how the right tools can solve growing pains. They evaluated real operating requirements based on specific tasks and the roadblocks the nonprofit encountered. More importantly, they spent time getting to know the people on the team and asked them how they worked together. Mocko lives by a philosophy we at The SMART Workplace know is true –
If the solution doesn’t fit you and the way you work, you won’t use it.
The team at Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute is highly creative and energetic. Leaders value and encourage input and engaged participation from everyone on the team. The consultants knew that whatever tool they chose to help this growing team to manage collaboration and workflow, it would have to match the team dynamic. It couldn’t stifle creativity or leave anyone out.
From Insights to Implementation
How do you turn the squishy details of how a team collaborates (or doesn’t) into a data-driven decision? You turn feedback into requirements and develop a system for evaluating possible solutions. For RMMFI’s software solution, the questions were quite simple:
“How should it function?”
“Will it play nice with existing software?”
Simple questions with an analysis and evaluation scoring system helps SMART organizations get a clear winner from many available options. RMMFI, for example, already used Salesforce to manage their contacts lists, so their solution included adding Task Ray, a Salesforce project management app, as a tool to evaluate.
Task Ray provided the visibility RMMFI needed with a Kanban board-style project dashboard. Kanban, a method for organizing tasks, is a secret weapon lean manufacturing and software development teams have been using for years. This style of dashboard gives the whole team visibility into each task and where it is in the process. It also reveals where the process is breaking down and where bottlenecks are holding things up. Task Ray also had the reports the organization needed for tracking the progress of each project and for tracking each person’s workload. Plus it would integrate with Salesforce.
They had a winner.
Let’s Do This (a.k.a. Implementation)
The right tool probably won’t fit perfectly right off the rack. A skilled tailor makes an off-the-rack piece look like it was made for you, and tailoring is a key to full implementation. In this case, Lidi and her team at Mocko Consulting started by customizing Task Ray’s projects and tasks interface by adding additional fields that reflected RMMFI’s actual work, using language that aligned with the nonprofit’s culture and vocabulary. They added field validations to make sure the data for each task and project matched the data RMMFI needed to track. They loaded Task Ray with data from the organization’s 2015 task list, creating a smarter framework for team members to use individually and from which to collaborate.
Just a few weeks after rolling out the integrated collaborative solution in a team training session, followed by individual one-on-one sessions and “cheat-sheets” with step-by-step instructions, the RMMFI staff stopped using the new tool.
Had the solution failed? Was the software the wrong solution?
Not at all.
Using the tool made it clear to the team just where their business processes needed some tweaking, and it spurred them to talk and get their internal processes in order. Just like the small businesses RMMFI champions, they, too, are learning as they go and grow. Issues are conversation opportunities and catapult team development, feedback for continuous improvement, and data for tweaking the integrated software “rules” to better match the emerging operational needs that come from growth.
The team is still finding the just-right balance between process and creativity with this software, and they have the right help to make sure the technology works as hard as they do while they take on all those new challenges and seize those new opportunities.
Mocko Consulting ♡s RMMFI
The best consulting benefit is to help clients do more better with less struggle. RMMFI’s mission is to make opportunity available to everyone and to create economic and social mobility through entrepreneurship. They offer business skills education, mentorship, and micro lending to fund dozens of small businesses from idea to launch every year.
Through community collaboration, owner of Mocko Consulting, Lidiane, got engaged in the RMMFI community by volunteering for client entrepreneurs. Lidi understands that helping others grow digitally and collaboratively is key for today’s fast growth organization. There’s just no substitute for getting involved in order to understand a team’s culture and what they stand for.
It’s the same kind of relational problem solving we bring to our customers, too. Contact Mocko Consulting if you have software integration needs, and let us at The Smart Workplace know if you have a good problem you’d like us to take a look at while you’re becoming more a more agile, mobile, digital, collaborative organization, team or career professional. We look forward to getting to know you and helping you solve those good problems that bring along growing pains.