Five reasons to “check under the hood” of your organization

By DeVon Hankins, Strategic Partner, Operational Performance & Innovation

Photo of DeVon Hankins

Have you ever been in a situation where you know something just isn’t right, but you can’t put your finger on it?

Sometimes, if you’re too close to an issue, it can be difficult to accurately diagnose the problem and identify the right solutions to move forward. What’s that expression … can’t see the forest for the trees?

If this sounds familiar, your nonprofit might consider an operational assessment. This tool involves a detailed look “under the hood” of your organization to uncover issues that either stem from existing pain points or have the potential to escalate.

So, how do you know if your organization would benefit from an operational assessment?

1. You’re preparing for strategic planning.

An operational assessment prepares an organization for strategic planning by identifying challenges and addressing them before they become barriers to setting achievable goals. In short, it can lay the foundation for success.

2. Your strategic plan is languishing or collecting dust on a shelf. Or, maybe you’re going through the motions of the plan but struggle to bring goals across the finish line.

About a third of the time, an organization lacks the capacity and capability to achieve the plan’s goals. In those cases, strategic planning is a waste of time, energy, and resources. If you need to get your organization’s “house” in order, the operational assessment can dig deeper than the symptoms to diagnose the root cause(s) of the challenges you’re experiencing.

3. Your organization has recently hired a new executive director/CEO or other key leader(s).

An operational assessment serves as an objective report on the state of the organization and flags issues to be addressed. Plus, there are benefits to having a neutral third party point out potential (and actual) issues, particularly if staff and/or board members don’t always see eye-to-eye, or new leaders need to learn the ropes and triage. Operational assessments are collaborative in nature, gathering input from across all levels of your organization.

4. Your organization has recently merged programs, services, or in totality with another entity.

When organizations go through major infrastructure changes, new and unique needs are likely to surface. An operational assessment can focus on areas that may need special attention and accommodation during the transition period and beyond.

5. Your organization plans a major collaboration that will dramatically impact your operations.

An operational planning workshop can help your organization uncover its capability and capacity to successfully deliver results through a major partnership. In the process, you’ll learn to infuse these abilities into your organization’s DNA to prepare you to become a partner of choice for future opportunities.

In short, an initial operational assessment audit will compare how an organization intends to be operating against their actual performance, pointing out the things that distract and divert staff and board attention from their big picture and vision.

Once the audit is complete, nonprofits may further benefit from a solutions-oriented action plan to address the root cause(s) of their challenges and resulting barriers. At this level, a deeper analysis can help determine whether the organization has the capability and capacity to successfully implement these solutions and, if not, craft a roadmap for getting there.

Learn more about each of our operational assessment tools to see which is the best fit for your organization, and feel free to reach out anytime with any questions!