Research and Insights

Veritable Associates, LLC is a strategic and results-driven advisory firm experienced in ChessTable_WaterHorizon driving growth and delivering innovative improvements within fast-paced, rapidly evolving environments.  By leveraging strong business and technical acumen, as well as our expertise in data/risk analysis, people management, and business development, we enable our clients to cultivate key B2B relationships and accomplish strategic initiatives.  Our dynamic leaders are capable of building and guiding cross-functional, high performance-teams to differentiate our clients from the competition.

We keep a finger on the pulse of the market to assess trends and evaluate forecasts critical to our client’s enterprise.  By incorporating these learnings into our solutions, we ensure the client receives contemporary guidance, not stale solutions.


May 20, 2015

Infringe Upon My Individuality?! Why Should I Conform to Standardization?

Renay Jeune-Carver, PhD, PMP, SSBB, CSM

Standardization is a compromise of sorts, as it necessitates the concession that a departure from personal, individualized performance is required. In some regard, the extra effort required to adopt standardization (templates, behavior, deliverables, etc.) may be considered as non-productive, given that standardization administers restraints on personnel creativity. For instance, managers accountable for the execution of programs and initiatives should have the ability to manage these related processes or projects according to the best manner they deem most fitting for the circumstance, correct?  However, the workforce consists of individuals who exhibit varying work habits, methods, and customized styles for learning and achieving objectives.  In promoting standardization, do organizations potentially decrease their worker’s propensity to experience learning, since individuals may perceive their learning framework to be stymied by the need to conform?

Although standardization does result in conformity to process through the practice of uniform tools and methodologies, creativity and individuality can still flourish!  Organizations can encourage expression of originality within the framework that has been established to support standardization.  Additionally, standardization may allow for increased time spent on exploring creative endeavors, as less time is spent determining how to proceed in order to meet less than clearly defined expectations.  For instance, if a manager spends time redoing work efforts to ensure sameness of work product across various individuals, the manager is not actively engaged in creative exploration or promotion of new objectives.  The adoption of a standard process or tool setting for the workforce expectations will offer managers more time to delve into more creative pursuits. Legitimate standardization protocol does not inhibit creativity, but allows room for individuals to create within the dictates of the standardized process.

March 31, 2015

Operational Risk Management in the midst of Regulatory Compliance

Renay Jeune, PhD, PMP, SSBB, CSM

Operational risk is the unexpected loss associated with failures in an organization’s people, process, or technology solutions.  These losses are not inherent in the enterprise, but are residual in nature, resulting in lapses in controls, governance, and optimal performance.  Therefore, adopting a robust operational risk management platform is critical to an organization’s success, given that an enterprise’s failure to attend to its residential end-to-end risks may be a cornerstone for failure.  No division, unit, or department, is left unscathed when risk factors are ignored, unmitigated, and allowed to foster without containment. The result is deteriorating operations, sales, and potentially, financial performance.

Financial institutions firms face ongoing regulatory requirements – CFPB, OCC, FINRA – and compliance management is an essential framework to assist these organizations in constructing and maintaining safety and soundness of their operations.  However, focusing too much on compliance management without carefully considering and implementing conjoining practices which mitigate potential unfavorable infringements upon people, process, and system components may result in retrenchment rather than forward moving progress.  Such dislocation of activity promotes rearview thinking and a reactive approach rather than advancement and proactive solutions.  So, how do organizations avoid the possible morass due to compliance management endeavors?  The following recommendations are measures designed to lessen operational risk exposure impacting a firm’s people, process, and technology platforms.

1. Institute Metrics: What gets measured gets improved. This adage is true, since measuring and monitoring performance can boost performance.  Part of this message is ensuring the associate is notified of performance expectations, and how these expectations will be measured and monitored.  Associates, who are aware of what is expected, have a higher propensity to achieve to these expectations, especially if they are aware there will be consistent monitoring.

2. Establish Reporting:  Reporting provides an avenue to identify weaknesses or strengths in performance.  What is working well? Can that performance be extended to other parts of the organization? What difficulties or limitations have been identified and need tweaking? Establishing a standard reporting frequency enables management and employees to remain up to date on how well executed activities meet strategic initiatives.

3. Document Policies and Procedures: This may seem a ‘no-brainer’, but it is surprising how many organizations put insufficient effort into this area due to conflicting priorities and firedrills.  Policies are guidelines that dictate the ‘what’, or what could be considered the code of conduct, while procedures detail the ‘how to’ in executing tasks satisfying such codes.  Written policies and procedures provide an important resource aiding employees in keeping abreast of organizational changes and offer employees a singular standard by which to remain consistent when executing tasks.

4. Adopt Governance Oversight: Management and Board oversight of policies, procedures, and reporting is vital, as both emphasize how strategic initiatives align to day-to-day operations.  Governance is not simply a requirement for internal audit, but is an important control to be embraced throughout the organization – employees governing their performance by adhering to policies and procedures, management validating the adherence, and the Board reviewing reports that reflect the validation.

By attending to these factors, and implementing a robust system for tracking and monitoring the implementation, organizations may avoid potential deadly pitfalls due to operational risk exposure.

February 23, 2015

Managing Delays in the Project Team

Renay Jeune, PhD, PMP, SSBB, CSM

The other day I received a question regarding how I handle difficult team members or difficult clients in a project.  Difficult, meaning a project team member who never completed assignments and was not engaged in the project or a client who never made time for the project and was always hostile.

I responded that I never experienced difficult team members – for long, especially those individuals primed to sabotage the project and engage in acts with the intention to derail the project.  The interviewee seemed surprised by my response and questioned my ability to effectively lead a project.  Was I truthful and entirely forthcoming in my answer?  Yes, I believed so.  Because, when encountering individuals who exhibit that nature, or when associating with unengaged clients, I deem these experiences to be standard aspects of project management.  These situations present themselves as opportunities to overcome, not circumstances requiring backtracking and giving up.

My reasoning … I have never experienced a project team member who never completed assignments throughout the term of the project.  This is simply because after the second assignment is not completed (not just late, mind you, but really and truly – not COMPLETED!) then I would question whether or not the team member should remain on the team.  If the project manager encounters this situation, then to diffuse a potentially destructive scenario, he or she may carry out a number of actions to divert the possible negative consequences of non-performance.

  • Defaulting Team Member: Meet with the team member to determine the reason for the lack of execution. Is a personal concern taking the individual’s time and attention away from the project? Is there a concern regarding the skills required to execute the task?  Does the individual have the appropriate capabilities to perform the required activities? Or, are competing project being prioritized over the subject project? Any number of reasons may exist, and the project manager should attempt to uncover the issue in order to determine how to best handle the situation to move the project forward.
  • Prospective defaulting Team Members: Next, evaluate the performance of other project team members to determine if the work of other team members may also be faltering and needing closer oversight.  Could the project become further derailed? What additional guidance needs to be provided to the team members? Do the tasks impact the critical path to execution?
  • Deliverables: Bring team members together to discuss the impact of the activities and deliverables that can’t be performed or supplied.  Determine as a project team what impacts the potential delays may have on the schedule, quality, costs of the project.  Delays are never fun, should always be expected, and should never, ever be ignored!
  • Stakeholders and Demand Management: Once the impact has been vetted and assessed, then discuss with the stakeholders the potential impact to the project time line. Determine if additional resources can be added to the project team to ensure the project is executed according to the original schedule.

February 1, 2015

How to Develop and Maintain An Effective Project Team

Renay Jeune, PhD, PMP, SSBB, CSM

Determining team character is an important avenue to success, as such, in building an effective team, project managers should understand what elements come into play in constructing the team character.  Teams are composed of individuals (members) assembled together to accomplish specific goals and objectives.  A multitude of factors influence team formation, including cognitive affiliation, social interaction context, and member accessibility.  Typically, there are four stages of team formation – forming, storming, norming, and performing – with each defined by specific tasks and behavioral characteristics.  The forming phase is characterized by the identification and coming together of team members, with tasks not yet assigned nor roles identified.  The second phase, storming, is marked by conflict and discord, with members struggling for position and disagreeing on objectives.  As tension subsides, the team enters the norming phase, where roles are clarified and objectives are synchronized.  Finally, the performing phase is characterized by task execution.

According to Kock (2007) teams exhibit five common characteristics:

  • Permanency – Everlasting and enduring groups comprised of a limited number (5-12) of members;
  • Cooperative – Collective members who hold responsibility for accomplishing tasks and activities in conjunction with other team members;
  • Accountability – Combined responsibility and authority of members for planning, executing, and evaluating the outcomes produced by team members;
  • Participation – Engaged constituents seeking to accomplish objectives established at the team level, with members collectively contributing to develop team objectives; and
  • Sharing – Willingness to share expertise and competence, within and between teams.

While assessing the objectives of their circumstances, individuals decide whether their goals can be accomplished singularly or through multiple parties.  In team situations, members realize in order to achieve desired goals the assistance of others is required.  Therefore, team formation becomes more solidified.

REFERENCES

Kock, H. (2007). The team as a learning strategy: Three cases of team-based production in the Swedish manufacturing industry. Journal of Workplace Learning, 19, 480-496. doi:10.1108/13665620710831164

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