Strategic planning with digital transformation | BDO Canada
- Welcome back everyone. I hope you had a nice little break and were able to check out the networking section. We are going to jump back into our conference. Our next session is on strategic direction and digital transformation.
And with that, I would like to introduce our next speakers. We have Kelly Campbell. Kelly is the national service leader for our strategy and operations practice that should bring, brings a diverse experience in planning and operational effectiveness to the table. She represents our not-for-profit group and focuses in sorry, specifically on healthcare and community service. And she is a partner here with BDO.
We also have Nick Lane joining us. He's a senior manager here at BDO. He's in our consulting strategy and operations practice, and he focuses on developing strategic recommendations and as, and some problem solving for some of the most recognized organizations in Canada. So we're happy to have Nick here as well. He's, his goal here is to help businesses and organizations identify and capitalize on opportunities using logic and navigating complexity. So with that, we welcome Nick as well.
Just before we get started, and I hand it over to the speakers. I'd like to remind the audience that there is a chat box. You can use the chat box to ask questions, and we will present those questions to the speakers at the end of their presentation. So by all means, reach out through the chat box and let us know what you're asking, what your questions may be.
So without further ado, I will pass it over to Kelly and Nick. Thank you. - Thank you, Kelly. Good morning or good afternoon everyone, depending on where you are in the country. As Kelly mentioned, I'm Campbell and together with my colleague, Nick Lane, we're honored to be here today to speak to you about strategic planning and digital transformation. During our discussion today, we'll highlight the key objectives of strategic plans, as well as discuss best practices, trends, and challenges that we are seeing in the not-for-profit sector as it relates to strategy development.
Nick will then take us through a more in-depth discussion on digital transformation at an area that has seen rapid adoption over the last nine months. So next slide please. So, what is a strategic plan? A strategic plan is a critical document to a not-for-profit success, is intended to provide guidance and direction to you, your organization, your associated stakeholders, your board, your funders, families, donors.
It provides clarity on what your organization intends on achieving and how it will get there. It also defines how success will be measured for your organization. A strategic plan is future looking, reflects the organization's ambitions. What it's not is a tactical execution plan. Next slide.
So the purpose of a strategic plan, it's really about creating a shared vision for the organization. It's important that that vision, mission and objective is resonate with your stakeholders and that your stakeholders can see themselves in that, this clarity is needed now more than ever, there is much more competition for people's attention. I think you, if you listened to Bruce earlier, in terms of the demand for charities and donations, you wanna make sure that your message and your vision is very clear. An example of a vision statement I thought I'd pull in was that of Imagine Canada, which states that our vision is of a stronger Canada, where charities work together alongside business and government to build vibrant and prosperous communities. Our next purpose is really focusing the organization on priorities and aligning resources accordingly. When you have a clear strategy, it's a lot easier to say to people, the work that you're suggesting is a great idea, however, it doesn't align, or how does it align to our overall strategy? You can make decisions about projects and activities, and about how do you allocate your resources because you have a strategy in place.
And finally, it really, a clear strategy is a mechanism for an organization, really to share your story and to be held accountable for the results. So, in a 2020 firms report not-for-profit trends, it was noted that people are really looking for a connection with the organization where they volunteer or donate. So, the strategic plan and the resulting outcomes is really a mechanism for organizations to share that story. Next slide.
So the process for creating a strategic plan, you've probably heard this over and over, but it really is about the process and the result. There is a lot of value that happens within an organization when they develop a strategic plan, it provides visibility and transparency internally. So you're looking at your employees, your staff, but also when you're looking externally, in terms of your stake, different stakeholder groups, be it donors, your funders and other parties, it really gets people together. It provides visibility and transparency, shows that you're listening to the needs. It fosters the team building, and it really galvanizes your organization towards a common goal.
Next slide. So, what are some of the best practices or good practices that we see with respect to strategic planning? The first is really about setting a rhythm of planning. And by that, I mean, strategic planning should be something that's embedded within your organization.
There should be a cycle of planning and you should have your operational plan and your financial plans aligned to your strategy. And people should know what that rhythm is, how often strategy, your strategy is refreshed be it three years, five years, seven year outlook. And there is a calendar and organization to when that happens within your organization.
The second point is really about engaging the right people. We know that people there's a lot of requirements and requests for engagement in this sector, but you can't engage everyone. And so you really need to make decisions about who you're going to engage and how you engage those people. And you wanna make sure that you get a cross section of the population, and there's lots of ways to do that in terms of getting the engagement via surveys or focus groups or interviews and many technological tools available today to do so. But it's important to get that right.
Keeping a laser focus again, you can't do everything that you need to ensure that your organization is focused and what is achievable and allows you to set priorities. The next part is about measurable outcomes. So we all here, the comments, the what gets measured gets managed. It's also important that we measure the right things. And so we talk about SMART measures.
So the specific, measurable, accountable, responsible and targeted measures. So that's a key component. And the last one I just wanted to touch upon is don't be afraid to consult experts. There's a number of different experts in different domains. So if you're a charity and you're struggling with donations, engage a resource that has experience in developing donor strategies and understanding donor behavior, just that small engagement would really be helpful in terms of helping to develop that strategy for your organization. So, the key elements of a strategic plan, so we'll start really talking about the environment.
So this is your environmental scan, your E scan. This is really looking outside and seeing what's happening in the environment. So that could be within your jurisdiction. It could be within Canada.
You may wanna look internationally in terms of the different trends that are happening with respect to your specific area of focus. And also doing that in word look, in terms of, what are the strengths of our organization looking at the political environment as well, what are the risks to the organization? So that's all part of that environment and environmental scanning component. The vision we touched upon in terms of stating the organization's future state and your mission. Planned outcomes. So identifying your expected outcomes and aligning those outcomes with your overall mission.
The tactics and activities. So what are those key things that you're going to do to meet those outcomes? And when are they actually going to happen? Your performance metrics, you all your activities should be you're measured and have a target in terms of when you expect to achieve those metrics. And the final piece is around accountability. So accountability and transparency is critical. We all heard about that in, with the keynote speakers as well. We're really being pushed to ensure that there's accountability for results.
And so the roles and responsibilities within that strategy need to be clearly defined of who's accountable for those outcomes and results. I thought I would just pull in a couple of examples, just wanted to highlight that the strategy I said, the process is extremely important. Everyone that, anyone that's gone through with that process knows how difficult it is and the types and depth of conversation that happens within our organization when you're setting your strategy. But I also wanna show you that in the end product, it doesn't have to be as, can be very clear and concise for our stakeholders.
So these are ones that had just was able to pull off off the internet, but the first one is code. And you can really see clearly that, they've got three key priorities that were set and then the bottom, it defines how successes is defined. So, it makes it really clear in terms of what they're doing. There's an example as well, of the Royal Ottawa, you can see there's five strategic objectives defined, I believe, this strategic plan was just expired in 2020 and the last one being Alpine, Canada, again, three key objectives for the organization to achieve. Next slide, please.
So, trends, when we're talking about trends and strategy, what are we seeing and what are people asking for? So, agility, we're being asked to be very agile. We've heard pivot agile, reimagine all of these kinds of words happening, especially over the last nine months. So for the, for, to be successful, it's really about fostering that culture within your organization of learning and collaborating and enabling you to adapt to the environment. And I think we're seeing many organizations do exactly that.
And being able to pivot, to address the needs of the community. Anticipating needs. I touched on a little bit when we talked about that environment and the scanning it's really important to understand the needs of your clients and the expectations, leveraging data that you have within your organization is extremely important to do that, analyzing that data, as well as determining who to engage with and how you're gonna go about your engagement.
Diversity and inclusion, the positive impacts of workforce diversity have really resulted in this becoming a strategic priority for organizations. And we see that as well in terms of all of the things that have been happening over the last six months with an increased focus and pressure on organizations to address diversity and inclusion within their environments. And the last one I wanted to touch upon today was around digital transformation.
We've seen the rapid acceleration of digital innovation and transformation. It's really compressed years worth of technological advancement into two weeks a month. We saw that happen really quickly in this sector. And it's, we seen that things can be done and done quickly and decision making can happen quickly to get, and have that virtual experience. And I'll let Nick, kind of jump on that and start to go into his presentation specifically about the role of digital and strategy enablement.
Thank you. - Yeah, thanks Kelly. So like Kelly said, I'm gonna take you through a little bit about the importance of digitization as an enabler for strategy.
We always hear about how important digital improvements are and how they can have a major impact on your business. But hopefully I can make that a little bit clearer today and a little bit more tangible. So, in talking to some of our clients, I'm gonna echo a little bit about what we've heard in recent times. So problems like, we can't leverage your data properly. There's a lot of talk about things like big data, the value of analytics and the advantages coming from it. But turning that into insight can be difficult.
Things like we're not keeping up with the speed of change, that could be due to a number of factors, things like financial constraints, lack of culture internally, a number of different things can contribute to that. New business models are challenging us. You may see other organizations moving faster or adapting more. So you're gonna feel the need to respond, but ultimately remember that the quote of necessity is the mother of innovation. So, recognizing the need for the change is the first step.
So, you're already there a little bit. The fact that you're here listening to us. I'm exposed to fraud, breach, theft. Of course, this is, it's huge as a actual deterrent through digital change. And it's a lens that needs to be put on everything, definitely with respect to the personal and sometimes confidential information that's held by many of your organizations. I'm finding it too costly to keep up with other organizations.
It's great, as Kelly mentioned to do your environmental scan and understand what others are doing, but you shouldn't put too much credence in benchmarking against other organizations. Your goal is to look at what you need, what resources you have and what will create the best outcome for your organization and your members or community. And finally things like my systems aren't keeping up. So that's just also across the board.
It's not just with MPOs. What I'll say in, is the digital journey is never finished. So keep looking at your systems, keep looking at how they can be slightly improved and monitored, because like a constant improvement culture is much more efficient and effective than major overhauls. So I'm not telling anybody here today anything that you don't already know, and I'm sure that this statement resonates pretty well with you.
You're always being pushed to do more with less. And that pressure often comes from what I'll call the human world. So internally you're dealing with the willingness to change from your staff and your leadership. And externally you're being pushed to do more by people like donors, members, your community, and those two, I don't wanna say opposing forces, but those two forces can put you in the direction of either retrenching, which is actually doing less with less, which is not our goal here or the direction of efficiency, which is doing more with less. And that's ultimately where the digital world comes in. It can be essentially the catalyst for doing more with less.
And I'll talk you through a little bit about that today. So, in working with the clients that we work with over the last little while, we found a number of commonalities in what they're looking for digital to enable for the organization. The first being to increase membership or donations, whatever it might be, ultimately that's fundamental to the organization being able to achieve its mission. And back to the strategy that Kelly was talking about.
The desire to automate manual or repetitive processes. So this is helping to improve back indeficiencies. We're seeing that more and more as digital becomes more of a well understood, something that organizations can take on. They're looking at digital as an enabler for effectiveness to accelerate effective decision making.
The data that you have embedded in your organization is ultimately valuable. And the ability to leverage that and to power decision making is crucial. To attract people like volunteers. You can leverage different digital technologies to better target your message, garner more attention, and get your thoughts out to the right people and bring them onto your organization.
To unlock new impact through innovation. So, this is essentially new ways to deliver impact to your community of focus, whether that's providing traditionally in-person supports online or new technology to drive donations in a different way. That's a, it's a common goal for digital in that regard, and finally to increase or improve the impact that you already are working on. So, it's essentially accelerating or more effectively delivering on the things you're currently doing today.
So the best example of that is more effective use of volunteer or staff hours. So allowing them to focus on things that are value added rather than administrative or backend focused. And I'm not here to talk about COVID, I'm sure everybody's sick of hearing about it for the last nine or 10 months.
It feels like nine or 10 years, but the current environment is challenging us in many regards with, like I said earlier, a lowered revenue and increased need, and these goals really can help to come back nor revenues or things like increased members and donations, automated processes and acceleration of decision making is gonna be used to address lower revenues and the attraction of volunteers unlocking new impact through innovation and increasing the impact you currently have in your client matters with your community and your members can be used to respond to the increased need that you see out in the community. So, I'll call myself out a little bit throughout the whole discussion. And I always had to catch myself doing this.
I've been talking about digital in a very generic way, and it's kind of almost doing a disservice to the impact of digital. It's a very broad term, and it means different things to different people. It doesn't need to be complex. And me kind of just speaking as it, as digital as a whole kind of makes it harder to get started. So, the next thing I'm gonna bring you through is to help prioritize the digital improvements that may be the most important to your specific organization. So, I always recommend analyzing digital projects through two different lenses of complexity and impact.
Top priority, no question at all, is what I'll call the clear winners, their projects with high impact and relatively simple execution. The second priority gets a little bit more clouded, and it depends on your resource availability and essentially your desired outcomes. So, if you were somewhat resource constrained or you're in a more mature phase where you're kind of fine tuning your processes, my thought is you focus on the incremental achievables, they're still simple to implement, but they have a little bit of a lower impact.
And I'll get into some examples of each of these shortly. If you're looking for kind of a more meaningful substantive step forward change, you're looking into the, I'll call bigger shinier resource, heavy quadrant, that's new system implementations and things like that. And the final quadrant really I'll be honest, provides no value whatsoever other than the ability to be able to categorize potential digital projects into the category. So recognize that something is a waste of time, just simply allows you to allocate those resources, that time, that effort into a clear winner or a resource heavy or an incremental achievable. So to provide some examples in some of these clear winners, things like it doesn't need to be complicated. That's one thing I want you to take away from this discussion today.
Implementing things like communications technology. Teams or Skype or something along those lines. There's so many of them that we're hearing a lot about today for either internal efficiencies or to deliver services, things like analytics fundamentals.
As a professor data geek myself, I believe there's huge value in basic training and analytics, something as simple as, like I said, it doesn't need to be complicated as understanding, the different abilities of something as simple as Excel can drive a lot of insight from the data that you have. And the third example is just payment simplification. So, various options for donors or whoever it might be to support you, make it easier for the donor essentially to say yes to you. The incremental achievables.
So digitization of things like forms or automation of processes, they may not have as direct impact from the external view of the organization, but they allow you to save time, save money, save resources, to put towards those value added activities. And finally, the example of resource heavy, generally, I'm talking about, system implementations here, and I'm truly not trying to say that these should not be your top priority, essentially, they're critical to a number of organizations and they should essentially be on the radar of most of your organization's digital journey, I'll call it. However, the effort may be better focused on what I'm calling the quick wins and the clear winners, and the incremental achievables category. When looking at systems, I would say don't underestimate the importance of the upfront planning that goes along with them, the needs assessments and the planning at the outset.
Don't just assume that because the technology work for a similar organization means it's right for you. They're very custom. They have their own positives and negatives, do the upfront work and make sure you get what you're, they're looking for. So with all those benefits I've spoken about, essentially one of the hurdles and the stumbling blocks to succeeding in a digital transformation.
So these are the five main areas that we've researched as the digital transformation stumbling blocks. And I'm highlighting here the fact that, when Kelly was talking earlier about the importance of strategic planning, a number of the stumbling blocks can be mitigated through an effective strategy development process. So developing thing, a defined strategy will lay out your future vision, combating the lack of vision, it'll attach required resources to the strategic elements of the projects that you wanna take or undertakes, sorry. And by definition, a strategic plan is driven by management consensus.
So, you'll have leadership support behind anything in that strategic plan itself. So if I'm in your seat, I wanna know, be able to take those stumbling blocks and flip them on their head, into what it takes to successfully lead a digital change. So, first of all, leadership, sponsorship at the top level is crucial to this 'cause of any initiative alone digital. Engagement, bringing people that are engaged in the change, or are gonna need to be impacted by the change along the journey. Don't dictate them, dictate to them what the change is gonna be, bring them along and get them involved.
Ingraining a culture of willingness to change, to have constant improvement, to challenge the norm. It takes a long time, but it's absolutely crucial. Train, so giving your people the tools to overcome any obstacles that are either perceived or real, whether they actually just, they don't have the skills or they don't believe they have the confidence to actually do what's needed to undertake a digital transformation. And finally, communication. So communications required obviously ultimately important at the best of times.
In any sort of change, you need to feel like you're over-communicating to actually be communicating the right amount. And what I'll do is toss in a six key to success because none of those elements on their own are effective without effective planning. Planning though, I'll look at it in a different, a bit of a different lens. It's not just a support process to all of these elements. It's actually something that should be enabled by digital itself as well.
So to put that in another way, why would you plan and monitor and roll out a digital transformation or an initiative using inefficient planning processes or traditional planning processes. Planning itself needs to be viewed in a similar manner as a digital transformation initiative. And it deserves that attention. So I'll say here at the end to close out that planning, the tactical planning is truly to me, the forgotten element of strategy. As Kelly talked about before, strategy is obviously the north star that directs the actions of your organization. However, the foundation of success to meet that strategy is laid by things like people, processes, technology, and when those are working together, it's what makes successful.
So digitization of planning as I'm calling it, it's fundamental to achieving on any of the clear winners, the resource heavy projects, or any of the incrementals that we talked about earlier. Keeping track of everything from responsibilities, accountability, dates, dependencies, financials, it's a uniform necessity across issues. And it needs to be viewed with a level of importance that the tools and whatnot are behind it.
And you're comfortable that it's gonna be achieved by the planning. What I will say though, is that essentially there's a lot of tools to help achieve this. There's no need to overcomplicate in all instances, if you have a small team with familiarity with specific tools then use those, it doesn't need to be an overcomplicated process and using anything brand new if you've got something that is generally working already. So with that, I'll turn it back over to Kelly and see if there's any questions. - Yes, thank you. Thank you so much, Nick and Kelly.
I really appreciate all that information. And I think some of the key takeaways from your conversation and your presentation is that transformation isn't entirely digital. There's people in process that are tied in together. And secondly, I think understanding to put a plan together and none of us can sort of bite off the whole piece at once. So understanding what your priorities are, what's critical to your organization, what's gonna make the most impact. So I really loved your chart there to help us sort of get our minds thinking about where the best place to start is.
And maybe it's just implementing Teams. So you've got a communication tool to start with, and maybe you move up the chain from there. So thank you very much for that.
For the audience, I'd like to just let you know that up next is our breakout sessions. We're happy to take any, we've got a minute or two for questions if there are any, but our breakout sessions are going to be on financial literacy and on the GST HST issues for not-for-profits and charities. We are offering those also in English and in French. So by all means, we'll leave the main stage and head over to those sessions. And we will meet you back here on the main stage at 1:25 pm.
So I hope you enjoy the breakout sessions and we will connect with you shortly.