Project Management. The hardest part of getting started….is getting started

Every major project (worth doing) is unique! But there is no “magic bullet” Project Management template. However, one way of starting any project is by reaching a consensus on “anchor concepts” which can serve to keep the project on track (and can be revised during the project).

Assignment: Your program is up for a CAHME accreditation visit and you are chairing the “preparation” committee. What are the “anchor concepts?

Following are some “anchor concepts” examples for different types of projects:

In July of 2009 the Mayor of Hoboken asked me to initiate a H1N1 “Swine Flu” Task Force. We started with a set of questions based on reports from communities that had already experienced a Swine Flu surge:

Health Officer: Where vaccination sites should be established? Is there a special plan to monitor restaurants and food shops where flu-related safety guidelines need to be strictly enforced? Who will start preparing a Community Education plan?

Hospital: What is the back-up plan if hospital becomes “contaminated” and is closed to admissions, or if nursing staff is depleted by flu-related absenteeism, etc.? ICU triage? Availability of respirators?

OEM:  off-site screening centers if hospital ER is on overload

Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps:  “mutual assist” plan

Hoboken Police Department & Hoboken Fire Department: back-up plan if the ranks get depleted by the flu

BOE: criteria in deciding whether or not to close schools

Stevens Institute of Technology: surveillance and plan for (college) students

“Field Manual” for the Mayor

An umbrella agency allocated money to 18 different Food Distribution programs in three categories – “meals on wheels”, food pantries, congregate meals – $1 million/ year; & separate pots of money for housing stability, and aging in the community. There had been no review of the allocation in ten years, just automatic renewals. There was no “organizational memory” on why this program was initiated.

We started with some agency – Food Distribution Principles:

Agency is committed to providing basic supports to the most vulnerable in the Jewish community.

Food insecurity exists within the Jewish community and the Agency is committed to a programmatic response.

Funded food programs should reflect Best Practices in the field.

Agency is committed to kashrut. (kosher food)   

In order to address the needs of all those who are vulnerable, the relative size of needy groups should be considered in the distribution of funds.

The rationale for continued Agency funding should be clearly articulated if there are similar nearby programs with available capacity.

Agency funded food programs duplicating similar nearby programs should be open to merger opportunities.

Agency should provide kosher food to those who request it. However given the higher cost of kosher food, a facilitating process should connect those who do not require kosher food to other accessible food programs. 

Food programs funded by the Agency should be nutritionally sound, fully compliant with their regulatory agencies, be certified or accredited if there are certification or accreditation programs in place, and be active members of industry associations.

Funded agencies should have and enforce an effective Conflict of Interest policy.

A Health and Social Services Agency reviewed whether it should change accreditation agencies. We started with a set of assumptions:

“Price” should not be the singular criteria to change Accreditation. Neither should staff effort required.

HSSA should be in the main stream of Accreditation with other similar leading HSSAs in the United States – this is not an area to be a pioneer

Evaluation criteria should be developed first and then a number of Accreditation alternatives should be reviewed

Only “Evidenced-Based” options should be considered. “Best Practices” is not sufficient.

If and when the field is narrowed, HSSAs using these Accreditation vehicles should be contacted for feedback

Any change should not in any way compromise the “rebranding” initiative – check with our consultants

Make sure any change does not affect the professional staff’s certification, licensure, and “credibility“

Make sure any change does not affect HSSA’s reimbursement from any source

Be comfortable that any change will be acceptable to key “funders

HSSA was considering new revenue streams, more specifically “for profit” partnerships to support its NFP mission. So we started with Principles for Social Entrepreneurship Projects – HSSA:

Projects must be consistent with (and enhance) the Mission and Vision of HSSA

Our Mission: Guided by the wisdom and values of our tradition of respect for all people, HSSA provides innovative, compassionate and outstanding social services to enhance the independence and well-being of individuals and families throughout all stages of life.

Our Vision: HSSA will be the premier Agency within the area providing for the social services and mental health needs of the greater community with unparalleled professionalism, humanity and respect for all who seek its support.

Projects must not adversely affect the reputation, “brand”, integrity, fund-raising capability or tax-exempt status of HSSA.

To the greatest extent possible HSSA should seek to identify and replicate successful projects at other similar agencies.

Any new SEP should contribute at least $100,000 a year to the Agency’s bottom line, within a 3 year start-up period.

Priority should be given to Joint Ventures where partners provide start-up funding and take the financial risk and the Agency provides its “name”, experience and reputation (and gets a lower but steady long term income stream).

Project development costs must include the cost of staff time on the project.

“Clients first.”

….who among us can escape the lonesome time? When hours are as days. When the past becomes more real than the future. And thoughts of getting old are replaced by the anxiety of feeling old. New generations move in as old friends fade away. That’s the lonesome time. The time more than any other when people need people. When people need to be needed.

Senior Camps was founded in 1969 to provide overnight camping services to children and adults.

There were initially six summer sessions – each two-weeks long, serving more than 1,400 people annually by 1976.

1982 was a very good year for the agency – more than 4900 people within 43 weeks of programming, including the summer programs, holiday programs, children’s camping, and trips to Florida, California and Israel.

The agency was doing well financially in 1987 with $1,850, 000 in assets earning interest.

In late 1980’s, the agency began to run significant yearly deficits in part because of the capital money being put back into facilities.

In 1991, the property tax was reinstated on both camps at an annual cost of $66,000.

By 1993 the surplus dropped to $30,000.

Time for a new strategic plan…..

Possible Review Questions for Strategic Planning Committee –  May 6, 2010

1.   Review evolution of Mission Statement over time.

a) Does it need any reconsideration in light of the current “sustainability” challenge?

b) What are Camp’s core values?

c) What is our vision for the future?

d) What defines camp? As a Vacation Center?

e) Does Camp actually offer (as the byline says), to energize mind, body and soul?

f) Who is the actual Camp “customer”? Why do they come?

g) Does Camp have a loyal customer base?

h) What describes a camping experience? A vacation experience?

2.   Profile the competition – location, program, amenities, Jewish or secular, cost, “sizzle” etc – any  easy “copycatting we can do”?

a) What are essential facility upgrades to compete?

b) What are essential programs that we should look to add to stay competitive? More active?

c) Can we play-up our spa concept/health and wellness?

3.   What unique groups should be targeted? Jewish? Secular? Special Needs? Special Interests?  How can we expand our marketing efforts with limited resources and staff time?

4. How do we find more groups to partner with in order to sell our product wholesale?

5.  How can we expand off-season use?

6.  How many weeks of Senior Camping are necessary for Camp to still be Camp?

a) Should we look at offering shorter/less defined stays – i.e. more hotel like?

b) How do we become attractive to the Baby Boomers?

7.  What are the impediments to successful Camp fundraising?

8.  Are there grant-writing opportunities for tuition subsidies and/ or capital funds?

9. What’s in a name? Does Camps name work? no!

10. How do we define ourselves in terms of who we serve – i.e. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, non-Jews, etc.? How do we successfully meet the needs of all of these communities?

11. Can we/should we expand our programming into the Orthodox community?

12.  Is there sufficient diversity on the Board to address the current challenges?

13.  Is Camp being actively marketed to other affiliated seniors agencies?

14. Can the “Jewish” Internet be used to market Camp?

15. How will we measure progress and success (metrics)? 

16. Should we consider running other travel programs?

17.  Are there any Bylaw changes needed (e.g., committee structure, attendance requirements, term limits)?

18.  Should there be a special “free” weekend for various JCC execs, other Jewish agency execs, Rabbis who can send groups – so they can experience Camp?

Strategic Initiatives –  June 2010

1)  Mine affiliated agencies for “wholesale” opportunities

2)  Reach further into the Russian speaking community, both for additional clients and for possible funding streams or grants for scholarships 

3)  Identify possible alliances within the Orthodox communities for both senior groups through the Young Israel Synagogues and for programs to serve younger adults and families

4)  Contact Aspergers, Autism and other special needs organizations to test Camp’s special needs potential

5)  Develop marketing plan for reaching families who might hold family summer-camp sessions at Camp, such as reunion websites and, and email to USA-Federation email list

6)   Explore joint ventures with non-northeast synagogues, Ys and other institutions that might plan NE Jewish heritage tour with a week at Camp

7)   Research Grant opportunities from Jewish family foundations

8)   Develop donor list for annual donor funding

9)    Develop a marketing plan using existing “best” Jewish web-sites and newsletters, including separate web pages for each Strategic Initiative adopted

10)   Presentations to Executive Director groups, e.g., Jewish Family Services,  ED groups in New Jersey and New York

11)   Identify changes made by successful senior camps

12)   Is it time to change the name of Camp? 

13)   Board Self-evaluation

14)   Recruit graduate program interns in various fields to assist with the “leg work” and planning

“The Strategy” – Three Camps

Camp will be reorganized as 3 separate camp structures

Vacation Center – Our current program for senior adults

Camp for Adults with Disabilities

Retreat Center – More structure and outreach for our already established retreat and rental program.

In April 1991, Hudson Cradle was started to help alleviate the boarder baby crisis. Boarder babies are infants healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital, but do not have a safe place to call home. Hudson Cradle welcomed our first infant resident in March 1992. Hudson Cradle provides care to approximately 42 babies each year. Hudson Cradle is licensed as a Children’s Group Home

2007 Issues

Senior members on the Board of Trustees too long

New Board members join and then leave quickly

Need a Board/ management,  transition/ succession plan

No Strategic Plan

1.   Mission: Is the current Mission Statement still timely and appropriate?

2.   JCMC Affiliation: Is the current arrangement with JCMC still appropriate and working effectively?

3.   Clinical Services: Does HC provide an appropriate and Evidenced Based scope of clinical service to the babies? Are formal affiliation agreements in place for each of these clinical services if not available on-site?

4.   Outcomes: Is it agreed we need to better track outcomes while the babies are at HC Cradle and after they leave?

5.   Program: Should HC expand its program scope beyond residential care? If so are there gaps in care in Hudson County that HC might consider providing?

6.   Cribs: do we have data to demonstrate a real need for more cribs?

7.   Space: how much additional space is needed on-site for the current mission/ program?

8.   Facilities: what immediate facilities improvements are needed regardless of mission/program, e.g., maintenance, life safely etc?

9.   Disaster Plan: Is it agreed HC needs Contingency Plans if the building needs to be evacuated?

10. Contingency Plan: Is it agreed that HC needs a “baby transfer” plan if HC suddenly runs out of money?

11. Jersey City Medical Center/ Greenville: what, if any, are the implications of the closure (or changes) to Greenville and the cutbacks in pediatrics at JCMC?

12. Marketing Plan: why does HC need a Marketing Plan? and/or

13. Development Plan: How can HC’s successful Development efforts be expanded to include the local (Waterfront?) corporate sector?

HUDSON CRADLE – ’08 Strategic Plan (11/29/07)

A. Mission Statement

Hudson Cradle is a Group Home providing full, nurturing care to homeless infants with special health and developmental needs (“boarder babies”). In addition, Hudson Cradle provides counseling, education, and support services to birth or foster parents to prepare them to live as a family. Hudson Cradle also provides outreach and educational services to the community.

B. Strategic Principles

1.  Does the New Jersey Department of Children and Families consider HC an essential Agency “waivered” under the Court order? If so, will DCF agree to give HC 18 months’ notice of future discontinuation of referrals/ admissions? And, will DFC give HC an enhanced reimbursement rate to support the enriched nurse staffing and additional hospital visits necessary to care for the sicker infants being referred?

2.  HC will develop and implement an Evidenced Based Outcomes Dashboard for current and future services.

3.  HC should expand its Mission to include a range of non-residential community services to infants-at-risk. What services should be considered?

4. While continuing residential services, and adding community services, HC should consider becoming an Umbrella Organization for mission compatible small not-for-profits in Hudson County.

5.  The effectiveness of the current contract with Jersey City Medical Center should be monitored as the Medical Center continues it’s restructuring.

6.  Contingency plans should be developed given the announced closing of Greenville Hospital.

C. Facilities

1.  Consideration of moving to a new facility and/ or expanding the number of cribs is deferred.

2.  Review life-safety compliance, immediate repair requirements and space needs for current programs; and then develop a facilities improvement/ expansion plan for the current HC site.

D. Disaster Management

1.  Prepare and stock an “Emergency Medical Kit”.

2.  Create a “pick up and go” medical information file for each infant in residence, and personnel file for each staff member.

3. Design, implement and monitor compliance of a flu prevention protocol (e.g., babies, staff, Board members, visitors, volunteers))

4.  Develop emergency plans for various possible major incidents: chemical, natural, terrorist, bioterrorist, radiological.

5.  Prepare criteria and plans for “Shelter in Place” and various evacuation options.

6.  At least quarterly prepare copy computerized financial data for off-site storage; also scan, for off-site storage, critical documents such as tax-exempt letters, group home license etc.

E. Development/ Marketing

1. Complete historical profile of HC fund-raising accomplishments (as well as previous donors who no longer contribute).

2. Set goal for fund-raising share of HC annual budget.

3. Establish permanent Development Committee in the By-Laws, then

4. Prepare and Annual Development Plan.

5. Prepare job description for a HC Development position including rationale for its being full time or part (and how it will be funded).

F. Board of Trustees

1. The Board should adopt a “Statement of Board Member Responsibilities.”

2. The Nominating Committee should prepare matrix of expertise and term limit dates of current Board members (and additional expertise the Board needs), then,

3. Recruit new qualified potential candidates for Board membership until the matrix is filled.

4. The Chairman and the CEO should develop an Orientation program for new Board members.

5 The Executive Committee should prepare templates for Annual Board Evaluation and individual Board member self-evaluation.

6. At least once a year the Board should discuss a Board Leadership Succession Plan.


1. The Board should approve a current CEO job description (including educational, clinical and experience requirements for any future CEO).

2.  A format for the CEO’s Annual Evaluation should be prepared by the Chairman and approved by the Board.

3.  At least once a year the Board should review a CEO succession plan.