City of St. Albert

The City of St. Albert, also known as the Botanical Arts City, is a bustling community of around 70,000 located in Alberta, Canada. Anita Johnson, Strategic Business Advisor for the city and ClearPoint Community advisory board member, describes how ClearPoint Strategy helps streamline the reporting and management process for both internal and external strategic plans.

Watch the full interview here!

The Plan

St. Albert's city council is responsible for supporting key corporate processes within the organization, handling corporate-wide strategic planning and reporting, and assisting departments in developing business plans and project change management activities.

Every four years, when a new council is elected, the mayor and councilors develop a new strategic plan, outlining what they aim to achieve over their term. This strategic plan is then mirrored in a comprehensive corporate business plan, which is broken down into two sections: priority projects or initiatives linked to the council's strategic plan, and internal priority initiatives that support the delivery of programs and services to the community. Council priorities focus on the community overall, while internal priorities consist of corporate practices, like HR or IT, that keep the organization running. the strategic plan has an external focus; the internal plan blends both together.

Reporting on these plans is done quarterly, and both plans are reviewed and updated annually. This dynamic planning and reporting process allows the council to adjust to emergent issues and stay attuned to the latest happenings within the city.

The Challenge

Before the implementation of ClearPoint Strategy software, the process of strategic planning and reporting was labor-intensive. The team relied heavily on a combination of emails and Excel sheets to collect information, which was then compiled into a Word document for reporting. This meant the report had to be rebuilt every quarter, consuming significant time and resources. The process was not only slow, but also demanded a high level of technical Excel knowledge from the team.

The Solution

ClearPoint Strategy was introduced to streamline and automate the city's processes, which require "lots of involvement from lots of people," such as data updaters and report builders. ClearPoint provided the platform for building a corporate business plan scorecard, where each initiative is linked to both a council priority and an internal priority. This allowed for the creation of reports using only a single data set. With ClearPoint, the team can now easily retire old projects, add new ones, and extend timeframes every year. Johnson also praises the convenience of sequential period views. As the community has questions or concerns, the city is able to look at project progress over time and make evidence-based decisions as to what is best to deliver.

Furthermore, ClearPoint enabled the development of a public dashboard, which automatically updates data from the ClearPoint system. This, according to Johnson, is something the IT department absolutely loves, since it eliminates the need for manual maintenance on their end. St. Albert's dashboard is currently under construction, however, as the city is required to publish reports to the community, it will allow them to keep people informed by displaying charts and graphs, lists of services, and reflecting metrics pulled straight from their ClearPoint account.

The transition to ClearPoint resulted in a dramatic decrease in the time taken for report creation – from an estimated 100 hours to just 25. This reduction in time spent on the reporting process frees up significant capacity for the team to deliver to their community.

"ClearPoint really reduced our overall time for the process - about 75%."

The Results

  1. Improved Reporting: With ClearPoint, the City of St. Albert generates more insightful reports, enabling them to track progress over time and make evidence-based decisions. This allows both the council and the community to better understand the progress of various initiatives.
  2. Service Level Inventory Management: ClearPoint has been instrumental in tracking St. Albert's service level inventories (both internal and external), used to set the direction on how business planning, budgeting, and the delivery of services will take place in the city. This massive "library" of different city services is stored within ClearPoint, allowing for easy reference and annual updates. Every year, when departments are approached with council motions, and services need to be changed, executive leadership is easily able to approve these changes and automatically generate reports with updates for the year. Having everything in one place makes it easy to compare previous service levels against new changes. Additionally, in the city's process of implementing priority-based budgeting (and tying the budget to inventories), ClearPoint aids the council in deciding which projects may need to halt in order to accomplish something else, to avoid increasing the budget.
  3. Integrated Planning: ClearPoint enables the integration of multiple plans developed at different time scales, from ten-year municipal development plans to five-year mid-range department plans. Scorecards not only track departments' own initiatives, but others that they are responsible for in other plans. This helps ensure alignment across the organization and promote inter-departmental synergy. In addition, leadership is given a bird's-eye view of capacity throughout the organization.
  4. Increased Buy-in: Having a view of all projects in one place provides a clear line of sight for everyone involved. Increased buy-in from various stakeholders results in more coordinated and effective strategy execution. Johnson emphasizes the power of employees seeing the big-picture value of what they have been asked to do.

Johnson gives a walkthrough of St. Albert's account setup in our customer interview webinar (19:07). Watch now!

The Future

With the success of ClearPoint in transforming its strategy execution, the City of St. Albert is looking to further integrate the software into its operations. Future plans include the development of a corporate risk registry, further improvements to dashboard statistics, and the integration of other planning and delivery processes into the ClearPoint system.

The City of St. Albert's journey with ClearPoint underscores the power of starting small and gradually building up. By continuously exploring the capabilities, the city has not only achieved significant time savings, but also greatly improved the quality of their reporting and strategic planning processes. According to Johnson, "ClearPoint has been a great tool to show where we are and where we are headed."

Envision your organization's success with ClearPoint and schedule a demo today!