FMI – 2015-16 Program Thoughts

As the Director of Programming for the Edmonton chapter of the Financial Management Institute, I get the chance to bring great topics to our members.  Our Chapter’s focus is on programming of interest for our members who are public servants in the greater metro-Edmonton area.  On March 12, the board is conducting its planning session for the 2015-16 program year.  This is your chance to contribute to the planning process without having to attend a board meeting (although if you want to volunteer…).

Leave a comment on this page with your idea.  A title is welcome but if you have a paragraph or two to add even better.  The items below list the potential topics of interest.  The sequence of events will be as follows:

  1. Identify great programming ideas.  An idea is composed of a title, a short description (e.g. a paragraph) and any other details such as potential partners.
  2. Identify programming venues.  Currently we focus on breakfast meetings but that is practice rather than the rule.
  3. Hold the March 12 meeting planning meeting.
  4. Update the future events page on the website.
  5. Execute!  This includes identifying an event project manager and start the planning process.

Our current ideas are as follows and are listed in no particular order, tentative sessions are just that, tentative.

Fraud awareness in the Public Sector (September 23, 2015), Scheduled

Internal controls are central to the fiduciary responsibilities of financial professionals and financial managers in the public service.  How good are your controls, is passing an audit enough and can you have too much control?  These are the questions that a panel of experts will discuss including examples from the real world of auditing.

Status of Capital Projects in Alberta and in Particular the metro-Edmonton Area, Votes: 16 – Scheduled for November 2015.

(Suggested by George W) What are the major capital projects being built in Alberta and what is the role of either by either public or private interests in their development?  This session will look at a state of the projects and how public servants can assist and support capita project based economic growth.  Also discussed will be the challenges of maintenance after completion, what are the options for keeping the lights on after the ribbon has been cut.

The Art of Influencing Others, Votes 16 – Schedule for January 2016

(Suggested by Neil P) In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’.  80 years later, the nature of business may have changed dramatically, and continues to change… yet the basic principles of human interaction and workplace communication have, in essence, remained the same. Given the changes in today’s world and business environment, the humanity of his teachings are more crucial now than ever before, and the ability to win friends and influence people in business is an increasingly important skill.  This seminar will teach you how to manage people and give you the crucial foundational skills to shift from being an individual contributor to a well-respected manager who can achieve team success.

Foster Innovation in the Public Service When Money is Tight, Votes: 15  – Scheduled for May 2016

(Suggested by Sue K) Public servants are expected to be innovative while working in a risk averse environment.  This inherent conundrum is compounded during times of fiscal restraint when ideas are solicited but resources to execute few.  This session will investigate innovation in the public services from a number of facets.  Firstly, what is innovation, how do you get it, how do you keep it and when should you ignore it?  Next, how to propose, implement and sustain an innovative idea or culture in an environment that is less than ideal.  Finally, thoughts and strategies of making the case during times of fiscal restraint, after all, never let a good crisis go to waste!

How to Run Effective Meeting, Votes:13

(Suggested by Neil P) Public servants and financial managers spend a good portion of their working day in meetings.  But what is the result from this time spent?  This session will help you be more effective through both other standing the psychology and practical skills.  Including in this section is how ‘Roberts Rules of Order’ can help you be more productive in a meeting without sacrificing innovation or open communication.

Public Service and Its Unions, Votes 10

One pervasive constant in the public service is the existence of unions across all levels of government.  This session will consider the benefits to the members, citizens and taxpayers unions play and what are the corresponding costs or inefficiencies they introduce.

Surviving the Dreaded Re-Organization, Votes:10

(Suggested and contributed by Rene M and Darci S) Ministry re-organizations and municipal re-engineering have been with public servants since the initial governments.  Why do re-organizations occur in the first place from the political level, who has mastered the art of surviving and what can a public servant take away from or contribute to the re-organization?  Beyond the structural changes, what are the specific challenges in changes in leadership and the loss of corporate knowledge at the executive level.  What are the impacts to managers, non-managers with a specific focus on the role of the finance person in the reorganization.

Healthcare, Finance and Your Tax Dollars, Votes: 9

An exploration of the healthcare expenditures made within the province and nationally.  How can this expenditure can be maintained, what is the impact on government revenues (at all levels) and how will it be affected by the aging of the Baby-Boomers.  A panel discussion will occur.

How Government Works, a Ground Up Review, Votes: 7

Canada has 3 levels of government, federal, provincial/territorial and municipal/aboriginal.  How do these government levels work, what are the similarities, differences and nuances for each?  What should a financial manager or public servant know about these similarities or differences?  This event will include presentations from past and present sitting politicians and a tour of the Alberta Legislature.

Public Sector Budget, Part II: Do Results/Performance Based Budgets really perform (or deliver results), Votes: 6

(Contributed to by Nobey) Known by many names and methodologies (Results Based, Zero Based, etc.), a performance based budget strives to link inputs (financial and other resources) with the outputs and intended outcomes.

In theory, a perfect model for allocating the scarce resources available to a public service.  In practice though, what have been their successes and challenges?

These are the perspectives and challenges FMI will explore in this engaging panel discussion and presentation formatted conference.  Of interest to all who hold, manage or rely on public-budgets.

Governments, Disaster Response and the 2013 Floods – Two Years Later, Votes:6

In June 2013, the first ever province wide state of emergency was declared.  One of the most destructive natural disasters occurred in which large portions of Southern Alberta was under water.  Looking back two years, what are the lessons learned for all levels of government in emergency response.  How can the Public Service be both agile and maintain the fiduciary responsibilities expected of it.  In addition to the 2013 Southern Alberta Floods, lessons from the SARS epidemic, Slave Lake Fire and Forest Fires will be considered.  This session will be of interest to any public servant interested in planning for the unexpected.

Procurement, Who Is Doing Better?, Votes: 5

(Suggested and contributed to by BTH and Bageshri V) In February 2015 the FMI asked the question, Procurement who does it well?  At this session we will return to procurement but with a larger supply chain focus and ask who is doing procurement even better?  Included in this session will be a return to the Government of Alberta’s Contract Review Committees – xx years after their inception.

SharePoint More Than File Storage, Votes: 3

(Suggested by Dianne L) The Microsoft collaboration tool SharePoint has become the new standard in offices.  Unfortunately for many organizations, it quickly becomes simply another network drive – and not a particularly good one at that.  In this session you will learn 5 things that you may not have known SharePoint could do: 1. Be your go-to Desk Reference/Procedure resource; 2. De-clutter the infamous network drive; 3) Become a budget system – without (almost) using Excel; 4) Store emails and declutter your inbox; 5) Used as a ministry/department priority tracking system.

Time Management, Votes: 3

Time and attention has become the new precious commodity for busy professionals. Email, smart phones and pervasive technologies nibble away at the twenty-four hours allocated each day to deal with business, family and personal priorities.   What are the philosophies, techniques and methods to make the best use of those twenty-four hours?

Public Sector Budget, Part I: Who Loves their Budget System, Votes: 3

Budgets are central to a public service organization.  In many ways they are as important or perhaps more important than even the financial statements.  This is particularly so in organizations using the Westminster model of budget approval (e.g. the provincial or federal governments).

Given their importance, who does budgeting well?  Who has clients that love the system and who can produce reliable and forecasts quickly?  This session will explore these questions and opportunities from four lens, the system, municipal, provincial and federal perspectives.

Operational, Strategic, Business, Risk and Other Planning, Votes: 3

(Suggested by John K) Public servants and in particular financial managers are asked to lead, contribute to, evaluate and then manage to a variety of plans.  But what exactly does the organization when they want a strategic/operational/business or risk plan?  What are the common elements in these documents?  More importantly, how can public servants prepare credible, useful and enduring plans from that ever so-edge of the side of their desk?  This session will provide definitions, tips, tricks, guidance and most important, clues how to plans that spend as little time on the shelf as possible.

Who Loves their ERP and ERM?, Votes: 3

(Suggested and contributed to: Chris M and Darwin B) It is a truism that systems are the new bricks and mortars for organizations.  Unfortunately with this importance comes the risk when they are not well designed, implemented, run, managed or governed.  This session will look at the last two challenges in the context of two systems – how best to manage and govern an organization’s Enterprise Resource/Risk Management systems?  This will include topics such as – what should be the vision for these systems, who should be the governors, the managers, the users with the voice and to integrated the disenfranchised users?  As well, best practices/examples will be discussed from both local metro-Edmonton and from further afield.

Have Designation – Will Travel, Vote: 2

PSAB, IFRS and IPSAS means that accountants are increasingly less tied to specific industry, employer or even country.  What are the risks, rewards and opportunities for a professional accountant to take a secondment or leave to parts unknown?  What is the value proposition to the home and receiving organization?  How should family, career and community factor into this decision?  

Public Service Renewal – Three Years Later, Votes: 2

On November 1, 2012, IPAC-Edmonton and FMI held a joint conference to hear about initiatives to renew the public sector from its senior leaders. The panelists included Simon Farbrother (City Manager, City of Edmonton), Peter Watson (Deputy Minister of Executive Council, Government of Alberta), and Jim Saunderson (Chief Financial Officer – Western Economic Diversification, Government of Canada).

Three years on, what has changed and is renewal still a priority for governments?  What are the specific risks for the provision of financial, accounting or economic services?  This conference will revisit 2012 and look forward another three years in the context of public sector renewal.

Standards, Standards and More Standards, Votes: 0

(Suggest by John K) for accountants working in non-traditional finance areas, it is easy to get rusty on the standards that underpin our work. This refresher will provide a whirlwind tour for the financial manager on the accounting standards in force and that influence the public service.  This will include the legacy Canadian CICA, International Accounting Standards (IAS), International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Canadian Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB), International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).

The 360 Review and Benefits of Self-Knowledge, Votes: 0

(Suggested by John K) Many organizations employ 360 reviews to help employees better understand themselves through how others perceive them.  During this session, the 360 review will be explained (including its strengths, shortcomings, costs, etc.) and how you can collect feedback informally about yourself through less formal means.

Policies, Procedures, Legislation, Regulations and Directives, Votes: 0

(Suggested by Carey M) Accountability and oversight comes in many forms.  What organizations have mastered the subtle art of enough control that does not destroy innovation in its ranks.  This session will look at that delicate balance including special focuses on the federal and provincial treasury boards and municipal equivalents.

One Town – Many Governments, Votes: 0

(Suggested by Ron M) Edmonton is a government town. What may surprise you though is exactly how much government is going on in our area code.  Within a hundred kilometres of the legislature dome there are xx independent government levels and organizations.  This includes the federal, provincial, municipal, first nations, crown organizations (agencies, boards and commissions) – and don’t forget the universities, schools, Alberta Health Services and other full and partially arms length entities.  How well does these entities cooperate with each other at a political, executive, financial management (yeah FMI!) and professional level.  What can be done to improve this cooperation and is there a dark side to knowing your neighbours a bit too well?

Critical Thinking and the Financial Professional, Votes: 0

(Suggested by Lucia S) How well do you perform when it comes to critical thinking and analysis and how well do you communicate the results?  This session will explore the dark arts of critical thinking and combine it with how to present and communicate such analysis in a simple and effective manner to executives and to the political level.

Mission Possible: Building Better Teams?, Votes: 0

(Suggested by Sandra V) Teams or at least work units are the basis for most organizational structures.  How can financial managers build better teams and how can financial professionals and public servants be better followers and contributors to a team?  More importantly, how to balance the success of the team with individual performance management and promotion.  This session will explore these issues and concepts.

Accounting for and Managing Assets in Government, Votes: 0

How well does your organization manage the asset life cycle?  How is that asset verification thing working out for you?  Are your organization policies, procedures and technology current or are they getting a bit stale?  Finally, do you understand the accounting standards relative to tangible, intangible, component-ization or work in progress accounting?  This session will examine the asset life cycle, who is doing it well, the standards and what could be done better.

Building Teams When Times are Tough, Votes: 0

(Suggested by Xin N) Individuals are appraised by teams produced!  However, how do you build effective teams, resolve conflict and create a healthy work place when the demands on the individual public servant have become greater than ever?  This session will provided you with practical skills in team building and work relationships so as to keep your individual sanity and your team effectiveness.

The Art of Performance Measurement, Management and Avoiding Unintended Consequences, Votes: 0

An old saw goes, ‘What gets measured gets done’.  However in dueling quotes, Albert Einstein said: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted’.  Thus the challenge of performance measurement in the public service.  What are the acknowledged performance measurements for government organizations, how can the costs to collect these measures be reduced while improving their accuracy, finally, what is the role of the financial professional to managing measurements (both financial and non-financials).

Transfer Pricing and Internal Costing of Goods and Services, Votes: 0

Full costing of government is a challenge.  Central services (finance, human resources, IT, etc.) are often seen as a ‘free-good’.  Nevertheless, stakeholders (taxpayers, citizens, politicians) want to know the cost of delivering a project, program or service.  Twenty years ago, activity based costing, budgeting and management was one method to accomplish transfer pricing – since then the accounting world has become largely silent for these techniques.  This session will discuss the value and purpose transfer pricing, the existing accounting standards and success (and not so success) stories.

Information Management and Government Decision Making, Votes: 0

A central role of financial managers and public servants is to ‘speak truth to power’; however truth needs to be based on good information and evidence.  What are the sources of information that can be used to make good decisions?  How do public servants manage information that is growing faster than the ability to assimilate let alone understand it.  This session will allow the public servants to understand what is information, how can it be managed, how it can be used for decision-making and how is this a good career tool.

Cost Accounting in the Public Service, Votes: 0

Activity Based Costing (ABC) and Budgeting (ABB) have seen their fortunes rise and fall over the past few decades.  The Alberta Government has passed the Results Based Budgeting (RBB) Act which seeks to systematically review all government programs and services from an output and outcome perspective.  This session will discuss the role cost accounting/budgeting plays in this new world at all levels of government.  What are the human, system and cultural changes needed to make RBB, ABC, ABB or any other similar resource allocation process successful?

2 thoughts on “FMI – 2015-16 Program Thoughts

  1. how to influence others would be a good topic.. lots of ways and ideas with this subject matter.

  2. Program thoughts….

    IFRS for Dummies (International Financial Reporting Standards for non-accountants)

    Operational Planning: How to do it FAST!

    360 Reviews, the art of self-assessment.

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