Order: How to Save your Sanity in a Fund Development Department

 Order is valued in a working environment. It empowers those who work in it. Lack of order creates chaos and wastes resources. The resources we speak of are human, financial and time.

There is a cost to the lack of order.  Things which are difficult to find, jobs that should be easy but take vast amounts of time erode morale and add a financial burden.   Order and business rules go a long way to making a working environment efficient and staff time effective.  It is just the beginning as other requirements will turn up later in the project.

The KMS will be the repository for many things the charity will want to retain.  Evaluating the use of the KMS and its content will be a job that is performed periodically by management and staff.

The project’s goal was to eliminate time wasters and let the client find what they need, when they need it by implementing a system that supports order.

Re-organizing how information is stored on the client’s network is step one. The 15 second rule is something we have introduced.  If you can’t find what you are looking for in 15 seconds, someone didn’t take the time to save it properly. This mindset enables staff members to make adjustments to improve a situation. Aha! Continuous improvement, a concept that has lost favour amongst all the new management theories, has raised its head.

One of the key methods to establishing order is creating a set of common folders on the client’s computer network, The main folder is referred to as the KMS with all related folders set up as its subfolders.  KMS stands for Knowledge Management System.

The overall structure is flat with few reasons for creating further sub folders.  There are two main folders that require further subfolders; these include donor communications and grant proposals. For all other areas, we created one level of folders enabling access to all electronic tools used by the charity. The toolset includes merge documents, instruction sets, presentations, sponsorship packages and more.

The benefits of the KMS are many.  KMS use must be mandated from senior management down. Adherence to the principle being this is the one and only source for business building tools is fundamental to maintaining order. No longer will stashes of electronic files be allowed when they should be saved in the KMS.

What are the benefits?  Here are a few:

  1.  Control and Continuity: Processes and tools acceptable to the charity are available to all staff.
  2. Cost: Once created an electronic tool can be reused many times over.  The initial cost of development is spread across the number of times it is used.
  3. Time: If staff can find what they need (the 15 second rule) without an endless search, the cost of staff time in locating what they require is insignificant.  The outcome is more time to do what impacts the bottom-line.
  4.  Morale: There is nothing more demoralizing than working in a disorganized environment.
  5. Capture Knowledge:  Recording how jobs are performed develops best practices. How staff perform jobs or improve them can be recorded for the benefit of all others in the organization.
  6. Shareable: A shareable resource is being built with multiple contributions giving employees credit for the value and often time saving suggestions they make.
  7. Brand or Image:  What goes out for public consumption brands a charity. Communications of all types are a reflection of the organization.  The page formats, fonts and messages need to be managed.  With only one copy of a document available for multiple users, the charity prevents creative outputs by well-meaning staff.
  8. Training: A training environment is created for new staff.  It’s no longer “do the job as you wish”, rather the mantra is “this is how we work at our charity”.  They have all the KMS resources at their fingertips to ensure continuity and consistency.  New staff members are quickly raised to a level of performance valuable to the charity.
  9. Conformance:  New or existing staff can be identified for further training.  If training does not address the problem, other actions can be taken.

The Bottom Line

Order and business rules of engagement go a long way to making a working environment efficient and staff time effective.  This is not the end of what we might need, it establishes a start, as other requirements will turn up later in the project.

The KMS will be the focal point of many things the charity will want to retain.  Evaluating the use of the KMS and its content will be a job that is addressed periodically by management and staff.

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