Addressing the Challenge of IEs Helping Non-Profits - X

Kate Fisher
Industrial Engineering Consultant
West Monroe Partners, LLC.
Columbus, OH
IIE Annual Conference 2014 – Montreal
How to find and initiate non-profit relationships
Getting them on-board with the idea of change
Ways to actually help them using IE skills
 [given typical working/life constraints]
Challenges faced throughout this process
Managing the relationship moving forward
My experience:
WMP pro-bono project with the furniture bank
Organizing and executing annual IIE volunteering (2 years)
Volunteering coordinator for WMP office
Project work with the Red Cross
Personal volunteering with Red Cross and “JA”
Class project on business plans for non-profits
IE skills are very valuable
Heard many IEs talk about it… but hard to actually get
things going [personally and what I’ve observed]
 >6 months to get everyone on board for the pro bono project
Yet, people want to help!
 Emails from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia about the IIE event!
So I wanted to share what I’ve found so
maybe others can have success with this
When we volunteered they mentioned tight on space
 I called to talk about it ~1year later
They had just hired an architecture firm
 To evaluate how much space they need
 And what they can do with their current space
 Also what they need if they were to find or build a new facility
Their biggest problem:
 Warehouse space
Main facility space vs. [unused] other warehouse
Other problems:
 Product flow
 Production planning
Scrambling when they faced shortages
Pick anything up and “find space” in main facility
How I found mine:
 Cold calling (Red Cross)
 Volunteering there (Furniture Bank)
 Other organizations in touch (IIE Events)
How to initiate:
 Develop a contact(s)
 Establish if there’s a need
 Offer help
▪ Both ask what they need and tell them what you could offer
 Follow-up… a lot!
Where to get the time for all this?
 In between meetings, beginning or end of business day,
lunch, doctor waiting rooms… etc.
Establish what they need, timeline, and how to do it
 Just like any other statement of work
Determine the best approach [for them]:
 Do it yourself?
 Get your company involved?
 Go through an organization (like TapRoot)?
How to get them to agree to the help:
 Sometimes have to convince and be persistent
▪ …and sometimes they've been waiting for you!
 But occasionally you might have to let it go
▪ Red Cross and stepping on toes…
▪ Local NPR station didn’t return calls
It’s probably not too late even if already getting help….
Find time to commit and let them know that up front
 Stick to it like any other obligation (coaching, tutoring, etc.)
Determine the best approach [for YOU]
 (Yourself; Your company; External Organization)
Getting my company involved was best for us…
 Pay some, give some?
▪ Having them pay some can help drive the timeline
▪ Help to justify to the company
 BUT issue of paying less than full amount…
 The non-profit being willing to pay helped start the
▪ Though we ended up covering it after all
▪ The company got several benefits [mentioned later]
Lesson Learned: Don’t assume they don’t have money to spend…
Lack of time/money/resources to put towards a normal
project plan
 Can do an official project like Taproot, but harder to get involved
 When I came upon the furniture bank they needed help NOW
Community money drives non-profits
 Means longer timelines
 All gearing up for a community “ask” (not implementation)
Board of Directors (people like you!)
Volunteers as workers
Being careful about what to put on the SOW [$]
Before we found them they hired an architecture firm
 Looking at walls… not the process or the current capability
Previous “Helpers” (like us!)
 Material touched many hands, many languages, coordination!
 Not only limited time and money
Key Questions
 Limit interference with the process
▪ They can’t shut down!
 Yet they really need your help…
▪ How to start/decide what to go with?
▪ Can’t collect the data you feel comfortable collecting?
▪ How to implement?
 When to work with them?
▪ When to use best judgment and not?
Don’t promise too much
 But worst case you can help them help themselves
Be up-front on your plate and if it can fall off*
 What they can reasonably expect you to commit
Put out there what you can offer
 Providing your expertise, IE tools and potentially
some analysis of their biggest issues
 They might see how you can help better than you!
Establish what their biggest issues are
 See the key things they want to address
Find out their timeline
Suggest how you could help them get there
Help them with their current needs
 Acted as “process voice” at architecture meetings
 Overall strategy for the various groups involved
Strategize for how to help with future needs
 Initiated the Pro Bono project
 Universal agreement on the project process
▪ Signed SOW, payment or other agreement, timeline
Follow through
Similar to the idea of the “triple bottom line”
Evaluate beyond the bottom line:
 Examples of other prime considerations:
▪ Location within 80% of clients in the city and bus line even though
neighborhood wasn’t great and property wasn’t perfect for their
▪ There is better property elsewhere but wouldn’t be able to maintain
the customer base
▪ How to take this info account?
 Value of better inventory management vs. labor cost
“Disrupting” stakeholders who aren’t on board
 Red Cross example when stopped returning calls/emails
The demand to be treated equal*
 Especially if paying anything
 But they have business needs too…
Moving forward with the non-profit
 Don't have to do Pro Bono
▪ Can volunteer labor or money too [one time or long term]
▪ Mixture of everything
 Staying in touch, trying to keep the relationship alive
Company justification
 Beyond “the good”
 Could get recognition [OK to ask for it!]
▪ Community award
▪ Press release
▪ Case study
 Potential tax advantages
Difficulties with the architecture firm project
 After 5 months they had a layout for a $2MM building…
 … that didn’t tell them anything about how to improve NOW
They asked us to explore what they need to meet levels of “clients
 To be used to valuate a “community ask”
They had offered to pay up to $10,000
 We decided to do fully pro-bono – but this helped the conversation …
They’re going to honor us at their biggest annual event this week!
Recommendation results as of 5/15/14…
 Physical changes examples:
▪ Evaluated racking feasibility and cost
▪ Evaluated cross-docking
 Layout example:
▪ Circular flow
 Inventory management example:
▪ Inventory cycle
How I was able to do it/plan it:
 Tried before, much easier with company’s support
 1+1+1
 WMP Fellowship
IIE Volunteering $$ Example
If you own a business or make decisions:
 Good for gaining employees [looks good!]
 Good for maintaining employees 
 Reputation for the company in the community
How to get your organization to let you:
 We’re all here at the conference…
 Convey value and meaning to your company
If you can’t?...
 Still very possible on your own
Thank you for coming!
Please contact me with any questions:
[email protected]
[email protected]
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