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Quick Guide to Organizational Assessments

November 2, 2017

CIOs, VPs, & Directors, do you really know how your organization is performing?  Are you too busy running your business to know? How would you rate your organization’s overall performance?

 

0 – Don’t know

1 – Initial (Activities are ad hoc/chaotic/undefined)

2 – Repeatable (Activities established / level of discipline and adherence)

3 – Defined (Activities are defined, documented, standardized)

4 – Managed (Activities are measured by quality, improved, and integrated)

5 – Optimized (Continual Service Improvement (CSI) is adopted / activities are mature)

 

No matter how you rate it, if you don’t have the data to tell you where you are in this model, you are only guessing. After establishing your baseline performance metrics, it is strongly recommended to perform assessments on a regular basis, typically every 12 months, to ensure progress in the areas needing improvement.

 

In the following paragraphs we’ll provide an overview for: 

  • What is an Organizational Assessment and Why You Should Conduct one

  • Who Should Conduct it and What are the Qualities of a Good Organizational Assessment Team

  • How Long Will it Take to Conduct Your Organizational Assessment and How Much Will it Cost

  • Who Will Use Your Organizational Assessment including How to Manage it

  • Why Should You Choose Consult Our Source as your Assessment team

1. What is an Organizational Assessment and Why You Should Conduct one.

 

An organizational assessment (OA) can be defined as a standard process for obtaining valid information used to determine key organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks. Four areas that are essential to include in the assessment are Customers, People, Technology, and Processes.

 

An OA is conducted to demonstrate areas of competence, improvement, and possible risks, as well as to help support investment and restructuring decisions.  It differs from other types of evaluations because the objective of an assessment is to understand the performance of an organization, not the performance of a project, a program, or a policy. An assessment with a “Live Person” allows you to customize and tailor the questions, making it meaningful to your organization so the assessment becomes the Voice of Staff (VOS). An off-the-shelf tool should not be used, as it is ‘cookie cutter’ and not tailored to fit your organization.

 

Many organizations ask, "How are we doing?" but are not sure how to get the answer. OA’s are a tool that answers this question - telling you how you’re doing, what you’re doing well and why you might not be performing the way you would expect. An organizational assessment is like a physical exam - in this case it is your organization undergoing a "physical" to identify strengths and weaknesses; and areas which need to be improved, modified or strengthened.

 

The value in conducting assessments across the four areas of Customers, People, Technology, and Processes provides the following:

  • Determine effectiveness of current processes including any gaps and/or overlaps as well as Identify resources that the organization can use to effectively improve its performance

    • Customers – customer satisfaction ratings

    • People – right people in the right position; move/align personnel to thrive and succeed

    • Technology – Internal systems, manual/automated processes, and structure (new environments, changing technology)

    • Process – modify/integrate current; add new; retire existing/outdated

  • Identify an organization's strengths and weaknesses

    • Interviews of personnel at various levels in any/all areas of the IT organization in support of the internal functions of the entire company

    • Generates evaluation information, which then becomes a valuable experience-based input in future planning, establishing of priorities and resource allocation;

    • Furnishes financial data to justify the need for additional resources

  • Provide a ‘report card’ to investors and stakeholders with information about the organization's performance

    • Generate information that will be useful in planning and decision-making like strategic decisions: Should you grow/merge/shrink; or change your mission; or offer new services

  • Prioritize and respond to needs that should be addressed through specific actions to change an organization's performance

    • Whether in pre or post change, an assessment identifies organizational gaps, risks/issues and helps to determine what needs to be done to plan for a process change, move through the process, or if the change was successful

2. Who Should Conduct it and What are the Qualities of a Good Organizational Assessment Team.

 

A key part of the planning for an OA is to determine if it will be conducted internally (self-assessment), externally (by contracting an external assessment team), or through a combination of both internal and external resources. There are advantages and disadvantages of each type of team:

 

If the assessment is conducted INTERNALLY:

  • Advantage: greater ownership of the process 

  • Drawback: greater commitment of staff time: RISK of BIASED OPINIONS; time to learn evaluation skills and time to conduct the evaluation; FEAR of ‘ASSESSING ONESELF OUT OF A JOB’; time and commitment of staff causes higher internal costs

If the assessment is conducted EXTERNALLY:

  • Advantages: Less use of staff resources; UNBIASED PERSPECTIVE; IDENTIFIES TRUE VOICE of STAFF; High organizational evaluation experience; Lower internal costs (time and resources)

  • Drawbacks: Higher initial external cost; Less ownership within the organization

The team – external, internal, or a mix of both - should have:

  • Credibility: Recognition from the main stakeholders and members of the organization, while having the right balance of authority, responsibility, insight and knowledge of the organization.

  • Technical know-how: Understanding of the OA approach, knowledge about the organization's programs and services, and data analysis skills.

  • Objectivity: Ability to balance the perspectives of different people.

  • Communication skills: Ability to communicate the results of the OA in a manner easily understood by all parties.

  • Interpersonal skills: Ability to interact with all parties in a sensitive and effective manner and ability to work as part of a team.

  • Availability: Availability to conduct the OA and willingness to commit time to working on it.

3. How Long Will it Take to Conduct Your Organizational Assessment and How Much Will it Cost.

 

An organizational assessment is a commitment of time and energy. It is difficult to estimate how long it should take, as the length of the process depends on a number of variables:

  • The number of strategic areas (as related to the organization's mission) you wish to assess 

  • The type of data you need and its accessibility

  • The availability of staff to be involved in the process

These factors will affect the duration of the process. In addition, you might want to consider the depth of the data collection that is possible within the time frame that you have to complete the OA. With these considerations, it may take a few weeks to any number of months.

 

The cost of an organizational assessment is not strictly determined monetarily. The total cost also includes staff members' time (opportunity costs), the technology involved, and access to information. It also depends on who conducts the assessment.

 

An externally-conducted assessment will seem more expensive until you consider the points above including staff members time (continuing their current job while conducting the assessment verses only participation). The cost of an assessment also depends on the number of issues that are included and how deep the assessment is supposed to go.

4. Who Will Use Your Organizational Assessment including How to Manage it.

 

Prior to conducting an OA, you will want to identify the audience for the Assessment.  The audience will determine the scope of the OA as well as the expected outcome. You will also be able to identify the audiences’ expectations. You will need to communicate with the audience throughout the OA process so that they have opportunities to validate preliminary findings and conclusions.

 

There are two types of audiences:

  • Inside your Organization: Your senior officials and/or Board of Directors will find the results very useful in their strategic management or organizational change efforts. It will also help management and staff improve decisions or understanding as related to roles and responsibilities.

  • Outside your Organization: If there are donors or investors, the results allow them to better understand the effects of their investments on your organization.

Managing your OA, whether it is performed internally or externally, will require a team. There are a couple of key roles that help to ensure the assessment is successful.

  • The strategic role provides guidelines and directions, and oversee overall quality. Strategic responsibilities are more conceptual.

  • The operational role conducts the data collection, analysis and reporting. Operational responsibilities are more hands-on

The number of individuals included in the assessment will be important. Enough people are needed to provide a range of views, but not too many that it will be difficult to make decisions. Ultimately, the results of your Organizational Assessment will provide you the data needed to create a Roadmap for the future success of your Organization and ensure that you know your organization is running as you expect, provide quality products/services and plan for growth

5. Why Should You Choose Consult Our Source as your Assessment team.

 

Consult Our Source is a boutique firm that specializes in performing organizational assessments. We quickly become the Trusted Advisor of the organizations that we work in. This creates a level of comfortability for participants across all levels of the organization to get the true Voice of Staff (VOS).

 

We have over 40 years of combined experience, work diligently to provide quality over quantity, and commit to utilizing strong industry standardized methodologies.

 

We operate efficiently and customize each assessment to fit the need of your organization with low overhead costs to ensure competitive rates that fit your budget.

 

We compile the data and provide it in multiple formats for all management levels so that it is easy to determine the next steps for your organization. i.e. executive summary, detailed assessment reports, and a summary of recommendations with a roadmap to success.

 

Contact us today to schedule a call and demo.

 

To the success of your organization,

 

Pam Karagines
Director of Business Development
pam@consultoursource.com 
www.consultoursource.com 
Office Voice: 415.919.9241
Fax & International: 415.632.3237

 

We are a Minority Owned Small Business with MBE-NMSDC, NGLCC , SBA, GGBA, CPUC. SAM certifications

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