Charting a New Path for Impact NW
A perspective from Impact NW Chief Financial Officer Kevin Washington
For the past 18 months, Impact NW has taken 4 significant actions to realign, and put the organization back on firm financial footing to not only better serve clients but ensure we continue to service Portland for another 50 years.
Over the past 7 years, Impact NW has experienced dramatic and unsustainable growth which has put a tremendous strain on agency resources. A strategic decision has been made to evaluate every aspect of the agency to ensure that all deployed resources and decisions are aligned with overall strategic goals and within our core strengths and competencies. In action, this has meant the elimination of programs, positions and continuing changes to internal processes and procedures outside the scope of our strengths.
Changes to culture can be among the most difficult task any organization can undertake, but the leadership team at Impact NW has taken on the challenge. The strength of the agency is our people, who see first-hand the issues facing our community. They are their clients’ strongest advocates and are in fact subject matter experts in their fields. We are attempting to change the agency’s culture by empowering our staff, listening to their concerns, implementing their ideas, sharing information, and providing a safe space to express their opinions.
Although we are a nonprofit social services agency, our business model has more in common with a for-profit business than most people realized. For this reason, we have started to develop and incorporate best practices and techniques which are common place in the for-profit world, to help manage the agency, including the development of key metrics, use of dashboards, trending analysis and the development of predictive models.
Impact NW’s transition to a paperless organization is a major cultural shift and signifies the agency’s willingness to rethink how we do business. The obvious environmental benefits, cost savings, and efficiency gains of going paperless are well documented. In addition, more nuanced benefits like the ability to work from virtually anywhere, cross-departmental collaboration, and experimentation with new ways to work and process information will deliver results for years to come.