The Mission-Critical Resource Center

Episode 4: Solid Governance Strategies that Deliver Results

MCP's informational podcast series features the firm’s subject-matter experts and other industry leaders exploring a wide range of timely topics pertaining to mission-critical communications.

The fourth episode on the MCP Podcast Network is entitled “Solid Governance Strategies that Deliver Results.” This episode explores best practices for a solid governance strategy.

An edited transcript is available below.

Panelists include:

  • Nancy Pollock, MCP senior consultant, applies her in-depth knowledge of public-safety communications, legislative, governance, policy, operations, and technology developed over her 35-year career to client engagements.
  • Karyn Henry, J.D., an MCP communications consultant that brings years of wireless and telecommunications group leadership towards legal and regulatory initiatives. She brings policies and procedures expertise to MCP projects to develop for innovative solutions.
  • The episode is moderated by Glenn Bischoff, MCP content specialist and former editor of Urgent Communications and Fire Chief magazines.

Transcript

Glenn Bischoff: Greetings. I'm speaking today with Karyn Henry and Nancy Pollock, and we're going to be talking about governance and what that means to our clients. And Nancy, let's just jump right into it. When we talked about governance in the work that we do for clients, what are we doing for them?

Nancy Pollock: Glenn, that's a good question. So many of the times when we start dealing with a client, they want to jump right into the technology and buy the technology and get this thing going and implemented. But really the governance part is probably if not more important, just as important as the technology. So, we look at how they make decisions, who's engaged in those decisions? Is it a well-based program, usually at a state level, but it can be at a piece app level. It can be at a regional level. And we look at how they are structured legislatively. What the authority level is within the organization? We can even look at the staffing level, but mostly the governance deals with how they engage their stakeholders and how they make decisions and how they go about carrying out the requirements of their law, their statute and their rules.

Glenn Bischoff: And what are the elements of good governance? We were talking about policies and guidelines and is it best practices? Is it memorandums of understanding? Is it inter-governmental agreements? Is it all of the above?

Nancy Pollock: It's all of those things, absolutely. It is how they affect their policy, how they write their policy. It is how they engage their stakeholders, at what levels. How they share decision-making. How they make sure that they share the blame as well as the glory, so to speak. And that they're carrying out the letter of their law and that they're following the rules and requirements of what their program is required to do.

Glenn Bischoff: Does this also involve industry standards?

Nancy Pollock: Absolutely. Best practices are one of the things that we rely on very heavily when we are engaging a client in this discussion about governance. There's a lot of good models out there. We have a lot of excellent experience with various state and local level governance situations in which we can draw from. But the best practices out there, the models that are out there that the National 911 Program for example, we have helped develop, actually, really are what we rely on to advise and guide the client.

Glenn Bischoff: So, when we work with a client, how do we go about it? Do we sit down with them? It's just a series of meetings? Or is it stakeholder interviews? What are the steps that we follow to support a client's governance?

Nancy Pollock: It can be any of those things, whatever the client has asked for us to do, but we also advise what has worked best in the past. One of the things we do of course is review their legislation, review their statute, review their rules and regulations, review their current policies. Talk to them about what their structure is today, who do they engage in? Who's involved in their board? Is that the right combination of people and positions on the board to help them make decisions? Especially in the Next Generation 911 world, a lot of that changes and people that were on the board or positions rather, that were on the board before, in the old legacy environment, no longer apply. And there are places on the board or the governing authority that maybe should be there in our absence.

Nancy Pollock: So, we look at the structure, we look at how they put their governing board together, if there is one. If there isn't one, we talk to them about why. Why is all the authority and responsibility for making decisions and so forth centered in a very small office sometimes. So, we look at all of that and we compare it with other models out there. We look at their infrastructure, their staffing. Who is involved with engaging the stakeholders and so forth. So, we do a pretty comprehensive evaluation of their program.

Glenn Bischoff: Give me an anecdote or two about a client for which we've done some quality governance work.

Nancy Pollock: Okay. We had a client that brought us in to evaluate their entire program. And there were some interviews. You asked a little bit earlier about stakeholder interviews and engaging the people that they work for, so to speak. During those interviews, it was discovered that there was a great unrest among the stakeholders because they didn't feel they had a stake or a say in decisions that were being made. All of the decision-making was centered on the boss, so to speak. And the user community and the stakeholder community felt that they wanted a say in how things were run.

Nancy Pollock: And so, one of the outcomes of those interviews, the evaluation of all the things that I had talked about a little bit earlier, led to a recommendation that they establish a stakeholder input group of some kind. There was much resistance at the top level to do that, of course, because this was a control person who didn't really want to share anything and didn't want to be told what to do by his or her stakeholders. And so, as we do and rely on the guidelines and rely on models and so forth that we have experience with, we encourage them to have a stakeholder group, which they did. They did implement a regional sort of liaison with their office. Everybody is happy. They have received very good input. And even the person who resisted that from the get-go indicated that it was probably one of the best things that they ever did.

Glenn Bischoff: Pretty amazing. Good work. So, Karyn, it's your turn? What would you like to add to what Nancy has said?

Karyn Henry: Well, just as an industry, we've identified areas where Congress could assist in the elimination of legacy state regulations that are impeding NG911 deployment while providing incentives for states to modernize their laws and regulations to accommodate and NG911. These reforms will enable both traditional and non-traditional service providers to support an expanded array of NG911 services and applications while facilitating the deployment of more flexible and resilient network architectures to support NG911 operations.

Glenn Bischoff: This is important work ever since I've been in this industry, which is about two decades now, I've always heard that technology almost never is the problem, but governance almost always is. And so, it's great that we do this kind of work. I thank you both for giving us some insights as to how we go about it. And thank you, the audience for watching this podcast. We hope to see you again soon for another MCP Podcast.