“SMART criteria improve the setting of treatment goals and treatment monitoring” (Tichelarr, Uil den, Antonini, Van Agtmael, De Vries, & Richir, 2016, p. 1). University Consulting has positive, as well as challenging issues occurring within the organization. At the core, lies communication. Without proper communication: interns are ill prepared; the ethical environment is compromised; development of skills is diminished; and success is never fully achieved.
Information Planning, Management, and Controls Goal 1
Communication with upcoming interns at University Consulting has been a consistent issue. University Consulting currently emails students on their student email starting the week leading up to the internship beginning. The problem with this process is that students are on their break between terms during this initial contact week. The result is that many students do not check their student email during this week and thus miss their orientation meeting. To solve this failure in communication, it would be wise to start a welcoming division within the company.
The welcoming division would provide information and answer questions in the month leading up to the internship. Through initiating this division, the company will be able to increase communication and avoid unnecessary confusion. Through making contact with incoming students by reaching out through phone calls, emails, texting and providing a clear syllabus, students can plan ahead and be prepared. Clear communication promotes success.
S- University Consulting needs to develop a welcoming division to communicate with incoming interns the business process and role the interns will play in the organization, as well as answering intern’s questions.
M- The goal would be measured by the improvement of interns being able to come in being prepared and ready to tackle their job assignments. This can be done by tracking and calculating the amount of work done, prior to the welcoming division, along with the hours each intern has completed. This same data tracked and calculated after the welcoming division has been put in place. This will allow the success of the goal to be measureable.
A- The goal is achievable by creating a division that has one manager, and enough employees to connect one employee with ten to fifteen incoming interns. The number of interns that each employee connects with can be modified as the program moves forward.
R- The goal can realistically be put into place in a relatively short time frame as long as there are interns available to be hired for this division. Once managers and interns are hired and trained, they will be able to contact Kaplan University for incoming intern’s names and contact information. The success will depend on having an adequate amount of employees involved, to make a personal connection with each incoming intern. To have a more effective team, it would be good to have the initial welcoming committee be in week 5 of their internship, and at least one intern from every department.
T- A time frame needs to be implemented for accomplishing this goal. To complete this goal in 15 weeks should give the team enough time to launch a prepared division that can effectively communicate with incoming interns. The first 10 weeks can be used to properly set up a team, brainstorm, and prepare for trainings. The next 5 weeks would move toward launching the division.
+C- This process may be challenging. The interns who will be working on implementing the process, are limited by their own 10 weeks in the program. That is why it will be important to maintain continuity. To do this, the team would need to include individuals who have a variety of term ending dates.
Risks and Barriers
The greatest risks and barriers associated developing a welcoming division in University Consulting is preparing the employees to be well prepared, consistent with the information they offer, and available. Another risk is in determining how many employees need to be utilized in this division. Research has shown that understaffing can lead to low motivation, decreasing job performance, and job dissatisfaction (Hudson &Shen, 2016).
Contingency Plan and Alignment
If University Consulting chooses not to create a welcoming division, then the advisors at Kaplan University need to begin to provide more information to the students when they are signing up for classes. The nature of the online university, can result in students feeling isolated and unconnected. This is why it is critical for a connection to be made, so that students do not feel so confused at the start of the internship program.
The first step in creating a welcoming division would be hiring one or two managers, and then enough employees to connect one employee with ten to fifteen incoming interns. The number of employees needed would depend on how many interns are continually moving into the program. The hired employees would be trained and these original hire’s, would need to work on building a business process. University Consulting would need to ensure the interns they place in these positions have a clear understanding of the company and are willing to seek out the answers they may not have. The business process should be designed so that the information they are conveying to incoming interns is consistent. The interns that are hired for these positions also need to be positive individuals, who are willing to speak to incoming interns not only as a group but individually.
Information Planning, Management, and Controls Goal 2
University Consulting is currently undergoing the development of creating Standard Operating Procedures. This is a necessary procedure to develop for sustaining consistency throughout the life of the business. In this organization, a business procedure is especially important because of the high turnover within the company. Once University Consulting has clear documented business processes, many positive effects can occur. Interns can maintain consistency, efficiency, higher performance standards, and improved time management (Manich, 2015).
S- University Consulting needs to complete the development of documented business processes for every division of the company.
M- The goal would be measured by surveying the employees of the company. Through collecting and compiling the the data, the company can determine the effectiveness of the business processes. This will allow the success of the goal to be measureable.
A- The goal is achievable by creating assigning each business analyst, different managers to contact within the organization. The business analyst will be asking the managers to document the business process for that department.
R- The goal can realistically be put into place in about 15 weeks. Because the phone tree has consistently been unable to keep up with the changes in staffing, many of the business analysts have struggled to find the contact information for the manager they need. Also, there has been many open management positions, which again creates an issue for the business analysts to gain a viable contact.
T- A time frame needs to be implemented for accomplishing this goal. The initial goal was for each business analyst to complete their task within three weeks. However, this time frame had to change due to the struggles that were occurring. The time frame for gathering the data should be 10 weeks, with the finished product deadline being 15 weeks.
+C- This process has faced many challenges, but with persistence and dedication the intern’s should be able to complete useable and reliable documented business processes. This will insure continuity in a business with high employee turnover.
Risk and Barriers
Barriers that exist in creating a well written documented business process, include not being able to contact a qualified manager from another department. This can happen due to: there not being a manager; the manager is too new to understand the business process themselves; the manager not being listed on the phone tree; the manager not being thorough in their discription of their business process.
Contingency Plan and Alignment
If the manager cannot be located, the business analyst needs to contact their own manager to help determine who to contact. Another useful way for the business analyst to determine who to contact (if the phone tree information is incorrect), would be for the business analyst to view that division of the company’s meeting on Podio.
The first step in developing a documented business plan for every department would be o contact the business analyst managers and have them make a plan for developing the business plans. The documented business process would need to be able to state clearly and concisely the steps that are done in each particular department for completing each job. Once the plan and strategy is designed, the business analysts need to be given their own managers to contact and retrieve a written documented business process. Once all processes are gathered, the information needs to be compiled and presented.
Information Planning, Management, and Controls Goal 3
The Weekly Performance Reviews and the note section in the Time Clock, allows students an opportunity to remain ethical. The implementation of the Weekly Performance Review, in conjunction with the Time Clock has been a successful and positive part of the company. The Time Clock allows the intern to not only clock in and out, but also document what they did while they were working. The protocol at the end of each week is to write in the WPR, everything the intern worked on throughout the week. This is an easy and effective process for University Consulting.
SMART goals for WPR’s
S- The strategy of using the Weekly Performance Reviews in unison with the Time Clock is a very effective way for University Consulting to determine the effectiveness of the interns. It is a checks and balance system, through the policies mandating the use of the note section on the Time Clock, the summaries interns need to write up if they watch past meetings on Podio, and the WPR. This give managers adequate opportunities to ensure interns are utilizing their work time properly.
M- This strategy is measureable by looking at the percentage of students that are following protocol. The company can keep track of how many students are completing the notes section to explain their productivity clearly. The percentage of students, who are also writing a short summary on articles they read or past meetings they watched, can also be measured. Finally, the percentage of students who effectively complete the WPR every week can be measured.
A- University Consulting goal has been achievable through strict guidelines put in place and explained by managers. The managers have effectively explained the expectation of the students being descriptive and thorough in keeping track of their time spent while clocked in. They have instilled in the interns that time will only be credited if there is a clear understanding of what the intern worked on.
R- The goal is a realistical expectation, as long as ethical conduct continues to hold a high standard within University Consulting. From the very first meeting, where orientation takes place, ethical standards are discussed. It is an ongoing discussion throughout the internship. Without integrity within the business, University Consulting cannot succeed.
T- The time frame for accomplishing this this process will continue to be on-going. That being said, management needs to improve its ability in crediting the interns in a timely fashion. Many interns wait for weeks to be credited on the academic side for the work done on the practical side, and when interns are incorrectly given a zero, the process is not efficiently correcting the issue.
+C- The challenge continues to be transferring hours worked and tasks completed over to the grading system on the academic side. Because the leadership at University Consulting needs to sustain the high levels of ethical expectation and discussion, they need to find a way to be consistent on this issue of crediting through grades. If management loses the trust of the interns, they will not be able to maintain an ethical business culture.
Risk and Barriers to WPR’s
Management’s inability to stay current and accurate in crediting the interns on the academic side remains the greatest risk with the WPR’s process. Trust is being sacrificed when interns are consistently experiencing grading issues. If trust is broken, the ethical performance of employees can be poisened. Once an ethical environment is lost, it becomes difficult to rebuild.
Contingency Plan and Alignment
University Consulting needs to have employees continue to document their activities while working as an intern everytime they clock in. The interns need to be writing a summary of anything they read or meetings they watched on Podio throughout each week. The WPR’s need to continue to be written, allowing the intern to confirm their activity during the week. Every meeting with the interns, management needs to continue to remind interns of the importance of workplace ethics, along with reminding the interns what is and is not allowed to be considered as work time behaviors. Lastly, management needs to efficiently apply grades to the academic side for hours and work done by the interns on the practical side.
The managers need to work closely with the CEO to develop a plan to become more accurate and efficient in applying the hours interns worked and the quality of their work, on the academic side. Interns should not be more than a week behind on being correctly credited for time worked on the practical side. Correcting the flaw in this system needs to be a top priority of management, in order for University Consulting to remain a viable business environment.
Hudson, C., & Shen, W., (2016). Re: Consequences of Work Group Manpower and Expertise Understaffing: A Multilevel Approach.
Manich, K., (2015). Re: Develop and Maintain Standard Operating Procedures: Part One.
Tichelarr, J., Uil den, S., Antonini, N., Van Agtmael, M., De Vries, T., & Richir, M., (2016). Re: A ‘SMART’ Way to Determine Treatment Goals in Pharmacotherapy Education.