Skills & Services

From time to time, all organizations engage in planning exercises. The challenge for most is to achieve real results – improved performance – from that planning effort.

Our approach to business planning services is modular and can be scaled to meet the specific needs of most organizations, large and small. Our planning service is efficient and focused on helping clients identify, define and achieve the clear, measurable actions that will lead to better performance.

How we deliver our services is what sets us apart – we begin by listening to our clients and to the people within the client organization.

Planning initiatives can include one or all of the following activities:

Strategic & Business Planning

St Thomas University - Miramichi Extension

Situation

St. Thomas University was presented with an opportunity to acquire a former convent building as the basis for establishment of a College of Extension in Miramichi, the community of the institution’s origins some 150 years previously. The Board of Governors had given its approval-in-principle to the proposed College and the University’s senior management team sought external support to undertake a comprehensive feasibility assessment of the building acquisition and of the proposed College.

Approach

Halifax Global assembled an expert team with skills in engineering, post-secondary education and business planning and working closely with the University President and senior management completed the needed feasibility study. The project involved in-depth consultation across a complex set of stakeholder and partnership relationships including the Provincial Government, the NB Community College, First Nations and other communities and local school boards.

Outcome

The business plan that was developed resulted in implementation of a revised strategic direction and successfully securing new funding support for the proposed campus.

Town of Marathon, Ontario

Situation

Facing the closure and bankruptcy of the community’s major employer, Marathon Pulp Inc., the Town of Marathon, in partnership with the United Steelworkers, sought expert advice and support to investigate the feasibility and develop a business case analysis of options for the ownership and operation of idled kraft pulp mill.

Approach

Working closely with the project steering committee, we consulted extensively with key stakeholders and opinion leaders, including the affected workforce, to develop a solid understanding of community desires for redevelopment and re-purposing of the idled mill. Those findings then framed the redevelopment options for consideration and focused our independent research and interviewing of subject matter experts, senior government and industry officials, and other knowledgeable informants. As potential options for revitalisation of the mill facility emerged, these were reviewed, discussed and evaluated within the framework of the community’s objectives and with the steering committee and key members of the community.

Outcome

A feasibility and business cases analysis for re-purposing the idled pulp mill that provided the Town and its stakeholders with a clearly articulated explanation of the mill’s potential viability as a forest biomass conversion facility configured to produce various possible outputs including biofuels, biopolymers, biochemicals and other bioproducts, as well as electricity.

Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Natural Resources

Situation

Newfoundland’s forest sector faced challenges that potentially threatened the viability of a number of firms in the industry, both large and small. Changing currency values, increased demands on fibre supply, declining or at best flat demand for key products, and rising energy and other input costs combine to create a very difficult operating environment for the Province’s forest producers.

These challenges and threats were also recognised as having impact beyond the companies themselves, affectinga significant number of stakeholders and stakeholder groups that comprise the forest sector in Newfoundland. All of these interests could be affected by the outcomes from a new strategic direction for the sector for which the NL Department of Natural Resources sought external expertise.

Approach

Halifax Global brought together a team drawn from its roster of senior associates, all of whom possessed substantial sector experience and knowledge and had worked together on previous forest sector assignments.

The HGI team addressed nine key objectives:

  • Define the structure of the current forest products industries and provide benchmark analysis of competitiveness and performance;
  • Assess the extent to which energy, corporate tax and forest management have been used as industrial incentives in Newfoundland and other selected, comparable jurisdictions;
  • Assess the extent to which the wood supply and policy elements of Newfoundland’s forest management system affect the performance and potential of the forest products sector;
  • Assess the extent to which Newfoundland’s forest land tenure regime affects the performance and potential of the forest products sector;
  • Define markets currently served by Newfoundland’s forest products manufacturers as well as those markets which could potentially be served in the future;
  • Assess the potential for advancement of the forest industry sector based on adoption and application of more advanced technologies;
  • Assess the policy environment to support development of non-timber and alternate forest uses;
  • Undertake a SWOT analysis of key industry segments based on both current and potential markets, and of potential new industry segments; and,
  • Develop a strategic plan to guide future direction and development of the forest products sector in Newfoundland.

Companies and their shareholders and employees, communities that depend on the employment and economic activity generated by forest companies, power generators and utilities, entrepreneurs and other organizations pursuing non-timber forest products and other uses of the resource, and recreational and tourist users all had an interest in the future strategic directions that would emerge from the assignment.

Given this context, any recommended strategy must have significant stakeholder ‘buy-in’ if there was to be successful implementation. Halifax Global recognised that such ‘buy in’ could only be achieved through direct consultations with as many identified stakeholders as practicable. These became the core element of the project, supplemented with market studies and assessment of the state of the industry’s manufacturing capabilities.

Outcome

In its release to the public of the Halifax Global Report, the NL Minister of Natural Resources announced the Department was following the recommendations put forward in the report, noting in the media release that “many of the recommendations in the report have already been implemented, including bioenergy development, establishing an industry adjustment fund, investigation of potential international markets and increasing support for technical skills development through the College of the North Atlantic”.

Municipality of the District of Lunenburg

Situation

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) had completed Phase 1 of its strategic planning process in which a high level vision and a general direction for economic development activity were set. MODL now required a detailed set of strategies and an implementation plan.

Approach

We studied the Phase 1 report and all relevant documentation and studies that had been prepared to date. We conducted a series of focus group sessions in the community and created a draft set of strategies and related action plans. These were reviewed with the MODL Council and a validation session held with community stakeholders. The final report then was issued that also included a set of performance measurements and benchmarks. The report also included estimated implementation costs as well as potential collaborating organizations and funders.

Outcome

The strategies and related implementation plan were accepted and the Economic Development Officer commenced with the implementation of the plan starting in the new fiscal period.

Privately held diversified company

Situation

A large diversified Canadian private company with over 3,000 employees and with revenues over $500 million required a Human Resources Strategic Plan.

Approach

We interviewed all senior human resource professionals and all corporate executives in order to determine what the major HR issues were and what the optimum outcomes would look like. We then worked with the Senior Vice President, HR for the company in setting the agenda for a two day planning session with the senior HR team from across the country. We then facilitated the two day session. We had the business owner kick off the sessions and he was there at the end of the second day to participate in the wrap up. We prepared the session report and wrote the HR Strategy document together with the client.

Outcome

The company adopted the HR Strategy and rigorously implemented all recommended action plan items. These included the commencement of employee surveys, quarterly newsletters and changes to benefit plan components. Within two years the company achieved most of their stated human resource goals including recognition as of Canada’s Top100 Employers.

Professional services firm

Situation

A professional services client had adopted an aggressive growth strategy. In order to better understand their marketplace they needed additional information about their competitors as well as their target audience.

Approach

Halifax Global undertook a review of stated competitors. The process included creating a template of desired information and then undertaking the research to prepare the database. In addition, we identified target potential clients in a specified geographic region.

Outcome

The client now had a database of competitor information that can be updated as required. Using our potential client listing, an initial prospecting trip has taken place that had included meeting with some of our identified potential customers. This initiative is ongoing and our client is committing to the geographic marketplace based upon the positive activity to date.

Medical supplies distributor

Situation

The incoming CEO of an Atlantic Canada based but Canada wide services business realized that the current business strategies and marketplace offering required change in order to be relevant and competitive. In addition, morale was low and there was a lack of team cohesiveness.

Approach

We conducted a series on consultations with executive management, sales representatives and selected middle management employees. This provided a strong understanding of the current situation and enabled a SWOT analysis. This was followed by a two day offsite senior management team meeting that provided for the framework of a new strategic plan and a renewed optimism in proactively addressing marketplace opportunities. This was followed up with a series of consultations with key clients and vendors. A new vision and mandate was set, together with goals, strategies and a detailed implementation plan.

Outcome

The action plan was implemented and the distribution business has morphed into a true “value added reseller” business together with an expanded set of global vendors whose products are being brought to market on an exclusivity basis. Change has successfully been introduced into the company.

Canada Foundation for Innovation / Science Media Centre of Canada

Situation

The concept of a Science Media Centre (SMC) ensures that when a major science story breaks, or a journalist is researching a feature story, the science angle is covered in a timely and accurate manner. Committed to demonstrating the importance, benefits, and relevance of research and to promoting a culture of science through a wide range of communications activities, the Canada Foundation for Innovation facilitated the feasibility for a made-in-Canada SMC to assist the community of interest in this initial stage of consideration

Approach

Initially, Halifax Global carried out a feasibility study to determine whether the concept of a science media centre in Canada would garner sufficient interest among journalists and researchers, and be able to achieve financial sustainability.

With the determination that the concept was feasible, we were engaged to develop a five-year Business Plan that mapped out the operational, governance, financial and implementation details.

The Science Media Centre of Canada was successfully launched in 2010 with a series of launch events across the country. Halifax Global developed the program and organized the launch event in Atlantic Canada.

Outcome

Nearly 400 stakeholders were consulted using several research instruments including an online survey, one-on-one consultations and focus groups. Interviews were also carried with other science media centres in Australia, England and New Zealand. The findings demonstrated the feasibility for a SMC in Canada by identifying the level of support such a centre could hope to achieve.

The business plan laid out the purpose, goals and mandate of the proposed SMC; identified a strategic framework under which it would be developed; described three strategic priorities, a marketing and communications framework, and implementation plan; and provided a six-year financial sustainability plan and performance measures.

The launch event attracted approximately 350 participants who engaged in a dialogue with a panel of scientists and journalists moderated by Jay Ingram, the well-known Canadian science broadcaster, writer and former host of the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet science show.

Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC)

Situation

In 2011, Halifax Global was engaged to assist the CSPC with development of a start-up strategic business plan for a unique Canada-wide science policy organization. Delegates to the Canadian Science Policy Conferences had expressed a need to establish a more robust entity that supported and promoted the broad perspectives of the science, technology and innovation sectors.

Approach

Working with a steering committee of stakeholders from across Canada, this project included one-on-one interviews and working sessions with key stakeholders, an online survey, development of the vision and mission statements, strategic priorities, governance and organizational structures, implementation timetable and a five-year financial model. In all, more than 100 stakeholders, representing leaders in the science, technology and innovation policy field from the private, public, academic and NGO sectors had input to the plan, which was presented to the national Canadian Science Policy Conference in November, 2011.

Also taken into consideration were findings and conclusions from recent reports on the status of science and innovation in Canada
In addition, a review of five comparator organizations identified a variety of different characteristics and structures which could be models for a Canadian science policy network

Outcome

The final deliverables included vision and mission statements; a strategic plan that articulated four primary strategic directions; membership, governance and operational structures; an implementation schedule; and a five-year financial model.

BioNova, Nova Scotia’s Life Sciences and Biotechnology Industry Association

Situation

The life sciences industry in Nova Scotia is a diverse cluster of start-up and established companies of varying sizes, many of whom export their products and services around the world. In addition, the universities, government and health centres contribute their research capabilities to support industry with their R&D needs.

Over a number of years, BioNova undertook several iterative initiatives toward developing a long term plan to grow the life sciences industry in Nova Scotia. Over the course of nearly four years, Halifax Global was engaged by BioNova to help with development of the plan.

Approach

Initially, BioNova engaged Halifax Global to assist the organization with development of an asset map of the life sciences industry in Nova Scotia that inventoried the industry, related research institutions and activities underway in the province at that time. Subsequently, HGI supported BioNova in conducting a series of consultations that brought together the life sciences community to achieve agreement on future market opportunities and the priority actions required to take advantage of these opportunities.

Finally, BioNova engaged our firm to develop an industry strategic plan and a separate but related plan specifically for the medical technology sector.

Over the course of these projects, we engaged many of the industry and research leaders in the Nova Scotia through group consultations and workshops, and surveys and interviews. We carried out primary and secondary research into other life sciences clusters in Canada, the US and Europe, and we worked collaboratively with the steering committees to define and shape the strategies.

Outcome

The strategic plan for the life sciences industry in Nova Scotia articulated four key elements required to change the trajectory of entrepreneurial activity in the industry, and the medical technology plan defined approaches to support commercialization and growth of this sector.

Operational & Organizational Planning

University of New Brunswick – Canadian Rivers Institute

Situation

The Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) was established with a mandate to carry out multi-disciplinary basic and applied research focusing on river ecosystems, including their land-water linkages, for the purpose of conservation and sustainable management of water resources. CRI’s mandate also involved educating students, professionals, and the public about freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the potential impacts of humans in these environments.

As the Institute grew and evolved into a multi-disciplinary research and educational facility it achieved significant success, but nonetheless operated without core funding. Collaborations and partnerships were therefore essential to its activities.Potential opportunities for further development of the CRI made it imperative that any plan for its future growth must determine whether sufficient new revenues can be generated from existing and untapped, alternative sources to enable the CRI to become financially sustainable.

To help it address these opportunities effectively, the University’s senior management team decided to seek outside support to develop a business plan to guide achievement of a financially sustainable future for the CRI.

Approach

Halifax Global was engaged to develop a comprehensive strategic and business plan for the next stages of CRI’s development. The engagement involved extensive stakeholder interviews both internal and external to the University, financial analysis and creation of an operationally focused business planthat identified and evaluated various potential revenue streams, potential capital and operating expenses, and set out a timetable for reaching a financially sustainable operating state..

Throughout the engagement the Halifax Global team worked closely with the senior University management team and with the Director and Fellows of the Institute to establish goals, measures and targets for future growth and development of the Institute.

Outcome

These objectives were incorporated into a strategic plan that assisted the University’s senior management team and Board of Governors in its decision regarding future investment in and support for the CRI.

University of New Brunswick – College of Extended Learning

Situation

UNB’s College of Extended Learning, (CEL), had begun a process of renewing its strategic business plan. General strategic directions had been established, however, the challenge facing CEL’s senior management was development of a solid business plan which could effectively guide the process of operationalising these strategies in the context of the business realities facing the College.

To support and accelerate that effort, CEL sought professional consulting support to provide business planning advice, methods, experience, as well as an outside perspective, to create a practical and effective business plan.

Approach

Halifax Global worked closely with the client to develop a business plan with a three-year planning horizon. The engagement involved revisiting the CEL corporate strategy, extensive stakeholder interviews, financial analysis and creation of an operationally focused business plan

In developing the plan, the HGI team carefully assessed the organization’s flexibility and capacity to achieve its strategic goals and objectives. As well, measurable attributes were applied to operational elements of the plan, including financial and non-financial elements to support recommended advancements.

Throughout the engagement the Halifax Global team worked with managers individually and collectively to establish their divisional goals, measures and targets and rolling them into the corporate plan. Throughout the planning period, worked closely with the Executive Director (who was charged with the corporate planning responsibility) to develop the plan and presentation to CEL’s Executive Committee.

Outcome

The plan developed by the CEL team with HGI support was adopted for implementation and has guided the operations and improved financial performance of the College.

Services firm in transition

Situation

The founder/owner of a 25 year old Toronto based professional services firm brought in a new CEO whose task would be to provide leadership and growth going forward. It was anticipated that the incoming CEO would become the new owner of the firm over time. The founder would be staying with the firm working with a select group of clients. The incoming CEO had great depth in industry experience but was looking for external support and advice with regards to business processes, human resources and planning.

Approach

Our initial engagement was to facilitate an offsite senior management meeting. The focus of this session was the creation of the business plan for the upcoming year and to improve operational processes. We helped manage the development of the plan and provided oversight on managing the action plan developed during the offsite. The following year the annual offsite was focused on the setting of long term goals and the creation of a strategic plan. Halifax Global, represented by Andy Cutten, has now been working with the firm for six years. Our relationship has grown steadily over this time and we have provided advice on all operational matters, ownership transition, internal and external growth initiatives. We visit with the client four to six times a year and the CEO and Andy have scheduled telephone calls every week.

Outcome

The CEO purchased the firm from the founder and in turn has given the senior management team the opportunity to buy into the firm. Halifax Global provided advice in all of these transactions and today is considered to be the firm’s trusted advisor, not only by the CEO but also by the Founder and the employees in the company. The firm has grown over the six years and the value of the firm has increased substantially.

Global processing company

Situation

A publicly traded company with revenues and processing operations around the globe had a complex and unwieldy budget process that resulted in frustration both for the participants in delivering the plans as well for the executive team that were the recipients.

Approach

In this case, Andy Cutten of Halifax Global had extensive budget experience while working for a multibillion dollar revenue publicly traded company that also had operations around the globe. Andy interviewed financial and operational managers from throughout the company as well as members of the executive. A series of changes were recommended, presented and adopted.

Outcome

The budget processes improved beginning with the following year. It should be noted that the work did not centre on the IT systems and software used but rather on the protocols followed including the setting of realistic expectations and improvements in communication.

Member-based organization

Situation

A Provincial chapter of a large national membership organization wanted to create a new strategic plan.

Approach

We started the process by holding confidential telephone interviews with the Board members. Next we held a one day offsite session and through these first two steps we were able to sketch out the framework for the plan. Next we conducted a member survey in order to best understand what they valued and desired from the organization and to validate the vision, mandate and strategic initiatives. A plan was then created focusing on several key strategies and required strategic enablers.

Outcome

The plan and the recommendations for implementation were presented and accepted by the Board and the implementation process got underway immediately.

Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (PATH)

Situation

The Atlantic PATH Cancer Research Study (PATH) is one of five cohorts of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP), the largest population study in Canada to date. With a target of recruiting 30,000 participants from across the four Atlantic Provinces the challenge was multifaceted. Participants agreed to be followed for 30 years and provided information about their lifestyle, and family and personal history by completing paper or on-line questionnaires. They also provided body measurements and a number of biosamples including blood, urine, saliva and toe nails.

Approach

Halifax Global initially provided planning support for the roll-out of the study and was then engaged to manage the overall study operations, budget and recruitment efforts to the end of the recruitment phase in March, 2012. The primary components of the project included a direct and mass marketing recruitment campaign; the establishment of multiple assessment centres across the four provinces and a laboratory for processing and storing the biosamples; participation in developing a national database to enter the data; and establishment of a central office to manage the project. At its peak, the study involved up to 60 employees including health, marketing, research and administrative personnel.

Outcome

By the end of the recruitment phase, the study had recruited the targeted number of 30,000 Atlantic Canadians. The marketing/business approach which we used to recruit participants was highly successful and led the other cohorts across the country. This Canadian database will provide researchers with a rich source of data and policy-makers with information on how to target disease prevention efforts, and will provide a legacy for future research worldwide.

Research & Analysis

Education & Training/Formation Atlantic

Situation

The international education market, valued at $2.5 trillion in 2005 holds the promise of potentially lucrative opportunities globally for local education and training providers. To take advantage of these opportunities, the newly formed Education and Training/Formation Atlantic committee’s (ET/FA) aims to understand the strengths of the education and training sector, and find ways to promote these strengths to potential customers. By mapping the exportable assets of the sector, ET/FA is better able to identify opportunities for collaboration, react to new initiatives and opportunities, and leverage existing relationships to build awareness.

Approach

The Committee identified that development of an education and training asset map will provide the intelligence needed to formulate coordinated responses to project opportunities, and will be a good first collaboration step among local providers.

The project started with fhe identification of education and training providers resident in Atlantic Canada whose assets could be mapped as part of this project. An initial review of publicly available information from the Internet and other published materials was undertaken to identify export-ready expertise and experience held by the identified providers.This information was documented in an online database, which had been developed on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. Providers then validated the information collected through the initial review, and provided additional expertise and experience profiles.

A final report was prepared which included a complete with a list of providers, an outline of the project including research and the database development, and a summary of the research and findings.

Outcome

The resulting online database, or Asset Map, is being used by education and training organizations throughout Atlantic Canada. It has been used to identify existing relationships between local institutions and international partners to build partnerships for project opportunities, demonstrate the breadth and depth of relationships to international delegations vising Atlantic Canada, and support development of project proposals.

In 2012 Halifax Global was subsequently engaged by ET/FA to undertake a process of updating the database information and providing ongoing database use and reporting support to the Committee members.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Situation

The decline of the forest products industrial sector in Atlantic Canada resulted in significant underutilisation of available forest resources and related reductions in forest-based industrial and business activity across the region. This decline also resulted in closure of industrial facilities that have at least theoretical potential for repurposing and conversion to process woody biomass into biofuels and other bioproducts. Recognising the impending imposition of new renewable fuel standards for diesel transportation fuels and the absence of biodiesel production capacity in the region, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency sought expert support to identify opportunities for commercialization of cellulosic-based and possibly other forms of biofuels in Atlantic Canada, particularly where such opportunities had the potential to repurpose idled forest products manufacturing facilities.

Approach

Using a combination of online research and direct interviewing the Halifax Global team compiled information about idled forest products manufacturing sites, reviewed recent developments and advances in a number of biomass processing technologies, developed specific profiles of key characteristics of technologies that appeared to have potential application within the region, identified available forest-based biomass supplies and reviewed research and development of biofibre crops as potential inputs for biofuels project opportunities in Atlantic Canada

Outcome

The key deliverables from this assignment included —

  • An inventory / asset map of idled forest products industrial facilities within the region that may be available and suitable for use in pilot / demonstration scale projects;
  • Related descriptions of biofuels technologies being developed which may be applicable for use in one or more of the identified industrial sites;
  • Preliminary assessments of the potential volumes of woody and other forms of cellulosic biomass which may be available as feedstock to support a proposed commercialisation / development project; and,
  • Descriptive profiles of proponents, both from within the region and elsewhere, who may potentially have interest in pursuing biofuels commercialisation opportunities within the region.

ACOA has continued its assessment and due diligence related to the identified opportunities and potential proponents

Energy company

Situation

As a result of a newly acquired equity interest and management role in several Caribbean Region power utilities, our client needed to address two component elements of a possible approach to renewable energy development —

  • Investigation of opportunities to utilize existing sources of woody biomass as renewable fuel substitutes for light and heavy fuel oil and diesel currently used to generate electricity; and
  • Investigation of the potential for development and processing of purpose-grown biofibre crops as renewable fuels to support development of additional electricity generation capacity.

Approach

To address this situation, Halifax Global undertook a review of recent developments and advances in five biomass processing technologies that appeared to have potential application, (individually or in combination), within the client’s generation fleet, including:

  • Gasification;
  • Flash Pyrolysis;
  • Hemicellulose extraction / fermentation;
  • Densification; and,
  • Torrefaction.

As well, we reviewed recent developments and advances in the development of biofibre crops that appear to have potential for development as renewable fuels in Caribbean locations; and, we developed ‘sensitivity analyses’ to define price thresholds for oil prices at which various biofibre crops grown in a Caribbean environment could be expected to become viable alternative, renewable fuels.

Outcome

Halifax Global developed a report which included a business case and implementation model which guided the client’s subsequent renewable energy strategy for these investments.

Council of Atlantic Premiers

Situation

The Council of Atlantic Premiers (CAP) were seeking advice on how to help owners and managers of small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) become better equipped to address the challenges they face in accessing capital, whether in the form of debt or equity financing. Specifically, CAP would like to help companies in Atlantic Canada become “investor-ready” and are thus seeking a consultant who will develop a strategy and a work plan to achieve this.

Approach

Our approach started with consultations with owners and mangers of small and medium enterprises, providers of debt and equity finance, and support organizations throughout Atlantic Canada. In addition, research of support programs, seminars and sources of capital was undertaken. Based on our analysis of the research findings, three strategies for enhancing investor readiness in the Atlantic Provinces were developed. The strategies were validated through a sessions with the consulted stakeholders and a high level implementation plan was created.

Outcome

The Council of Atlantic Premiers and Steering Committee members comprised of representatives of the four Atlantic Provinces and the Federal Government accepted and subsequently commenced implementation of the key recommendations that were primarily focused on creating an investment readiness roadmap together with a navigation support network.

Nova Scotia Department of Inter-Governmental Affairs

Situation

Nova Scotia is in a position to respond to a growing global need to address poverty, governance and general development in societies throughout the world. As governments of developing nations strive to achieve developed nation status, and other governments are aiming for greater efficiencies and best practices, proven methods of public sector reform and governance are being sought as models. The first step in responding to these opportunities is to identify and quantify “exportable” provincial government services for Nova Scotia. Developing an asset map of these services is an effective, proven solution as a first step to engaging in strategic international partnerships.

The intent and outcomes of the Provincial Export-Ready Services Asset Mapping project was to foster collaboration and joint promotion of Nova Scotia government services, to assist departments in growing and sharing knowledge of service exports, to support the government in fostering strategic relationships with the purpose of identifying new sources of revenue and further positioning Nova Scotia as a “smart province” in the international arena.

Approach

Five departments participated in this asset mapping pilot project that included identifying and documenting mature and successful programs that might be of interest for export. The five participating departments included: Agriculture / Fisheries & Aquaculture, Energy, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Nova Scotia Environment and Health. Subsequent to the initial project phase, the Rural Broadband project through the Department of Economic and Rural development was also included.

Assets were mapped using primary and secondary research approaches which included the review of documentation available on the departments’ websites, interviews with key informants within the departments and the review of supplemental information provided directly by the department representatives. Valuations of the assets were developed based on high-level estimates of program costs – development, operational costs and revenue.

Outcome

The final report for this project identified a series of steps which should be undertaken by government to prepare for the potential export of government services. Specific areas that were addressed include marketing, partnerships and pricing strategies. Additional recommendations laid out specific activities, strategies, and approaches that should be considered to support the export of government services and expertise.

Atlantic Population Table - Awareness and Retention Committee

Situation

The Awareness & Retention Committee (ARC) of the Atlantic Population Table, administered by the Council of Atlantic Premiers, has asked representatives of each of the Atlantic Provinces to submit proposals for pilot projects related to population and workforce development. Five representative projects would be selected from the eleven proposals submitted. ARC required assistance with choosing and then supporting the projects over their 12-18 month lifespan.

Approach

Phase 1 – Project Selection. Halifax Global created a template for collecting information on prospective projects and developed detailed assessment criteria. Our recommendations on the five projects to be selected were accepted. There was one project from each province and one Pan-Atlantic project. They focused on youth retention and repatriation, aboriginal inclusion and labour force small and medium employer toolkits geared to existing employees as well as newcomers to the Atlantic region.

Phase 2 – Monitoring and Reporting. We provided advice to the pilot project teams and created communication and feedback mechanisms. At the conclusion of the projects we summarized the results in a final report. All project teams presented their findings in a public workshop held in Truro, NS.

Outcome

All projects were completed on time or within approved extended timeframes, within budget and all met the criteria for success. Most of the pilot projects have continued in operational mode and the collective results did influence behaviour in other provinces.

Professional services firm

Situation

A professional services client had adopted an aggressive growth strategy. In order to better understand their marketplace they needed additional information about their competitors as well as their target audience.

Approach

Halifax Global undertook a review of stated competitors. The process included creating a template of desired information and then undertaking the research to prepare the database. In addition, we identified target potential clients in a specified geographic region.

Outcome

The client now had a database of competitor information that can be updated as required. Using our potential client listing, an initial prospecting trip has taken place that had included meeting with some of our identified potential customers. This initiative is ongoing and our client is committing to the geographic marketplace based upon the positive activity to date.

National value added reseller

Situation

A national value added reseller had adopted strategies that entailed both innovation and acquisition. The company requested support in implementing the acquisition strategy that was linked both to revenue growth and to enhancing their innovation mandate.

Approach

We created a selection filter for acquisition candidates and then proceeded with a scan of hundreds of candidates. Profiles of short listed candidates were prepared and reviewed with the client. These meetings served to prioritize the candidates. Halifax global proceeded to make contact with the target companies.

Outcome

Halifax Global initiated acquisition discussions with two candidates and arranged for and participated in initial exploratory meetings between the client and the principals of the target companies, thus fulfilling our mandate.

Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education

Situation

The purpose of this engagement was to develop an ‘ideas paper’ to help government determine its involvement in and position on international education in the province.

This paper was intended to provide guidance to government about how to collaborate internally among the various government departments and partners and how to support the education institutions and schools in the recruitment and retention of international students.

Approach

An understanding of the current state of international education and recruitment in this jurisdiction was gained by conducting primary and secondary research. The three-step process included: interviews with key stakeholders, an online student survey, and secondary research that involved reviews of international education strategies and best practices in other jurisdictions.

The consulting team worked closely with the project steering committee in a series of ‘hands-on’ meetings to develop and shape the concepts, ideas and priorities. The final report was developed through an iterative process with several rounds of discussion and review by the committee.

Outcome

The research findings demonstrated that international education creates many different types of benefits for the province – social, pedagogical, and economic.  Based on these findings, the recommendations included an overall goal, four strategic priorities and a governance structure involving government, industry / business and academe to guide the development of a more comprehensive strategy and implementation plan.

NovaKnowledge

Situation

The funders of this report commissioned novaknowledge, an economic development think tank, to raise awareness, provoke discussion, and challenge the leaders of Nova Scotia to take action in response to two related questions: 1)What would be the economic impact of improving the overall health of Nova Scotia’s workforce; the safety record of Nova Scotia’s workplaces; and the timelines of safe and early return to work following an injury?; and 2) What can Nova Scotia employers, unions, governments, communities, educators, and individuals do to achieve and sustain the improvements necessary to effect the economic impact?

Approach

Halifax Global was engaged to work with the Editorial Committee to carry out the research and compile this report.  Research included:

  • reviewing academic articles and reports;
  • statistical analysis of health outcomes data; and
  • information interviews with local and national experts.

This report developed a common knowledge base and creative strategies to spark change in public policy, public attitudes, and individual behaviours toward improving workforce health, safety, and injury prevention.

Outcome

The report made the case that a healthy and productive workplace is contingent not just on the health and safety practices within a work environment but on the personal health and overall well-being of the individuals who comprise the broader workforce. It aimed to show that employers, unions, government, educators, community organizations and individuals within the workforce constitute a complex partnership and jointly members of the partnership all bear some responsibility for the health of the province’s workforce and the safety of Nova Scotia’s workplaces.

The report was unveiled at a public launch event and distributed widely through across the province. This was followed by numerous presentations to government and community organizations.

Stakeholder Consultation

Direct marketing agency

Situation

A client, a direct marketing agency, had been losing employees and clients. In order to get a deep understanding of the underlying causes of the losses the client decided to undertake third party consultations and surveys of clients and employees.

Approach

We held confidential telephone interviews with a majority of clients as well as with some ex-clients. Questions centred around what they valued from the client as well as perceived shortcomings and an overall satisfaction rating was obtained from each client. An electronic survey was conducted with employees, and 100% participation was achieved. All questions were answered on a scale so again the satisfaction ratings could be tabulated. The results of both initiatives were summarized in a presentation that was made to all employees.

Outcome

There was strong correlation in satisfaction levels between employees and the clients and an action plan was introduced with an emphasis on improving customer satisfaction. The consultations and the employee survey were redone 2 years later and the satisfaction levels of both groups improved considerably. And over the intervening period the turnover in clients and employees was greatly reduced.

BioNova, Nova Scotia’s Life Sciences and Biotechnology Industry Association

Situation

The life sciences industry in Nova Scotia is a diverse cluster of start-up and established companies of varying sizes, many of whom export their products and services around the world. In addition, the universities, government and health centres contribute their research capabilities to support industry with their R&D needs.

Over a number of years, BioNova undertook several iterative initiatives toward developing a long term plan to grow the life sciences industry in Nova Scotia. Over the course of nearly four years, Halifax Global was engaged by BioNova to help with development of the plan.

Approach

Initially, BioNova engaged Halifax Global to assist the organization with development of an asset map of the life sciences industry in Nova Scotia that inventoried the industry, related research institutions and activities underway in the province at that time. Subsequently, HGI supported BioNova in conducting a series of consultations that brought together the life sciences community to achieve agreement on future market opportunities and the priority actions required to take advantage of these opportunities.

Finally, BioNova engaged our firm to develop an industry strategic plan and a separate but related plan specifically for the medical technology sector.

Over the course of these projects, we engaged many of the industry and research leaders in the Nova Scotia through group consultations and workshops, and surveys and interviews. We carried out primary and secondary research into other life sciences clusters in Canada, the US and Europe, and we worked collaboratively with the steering committees to define and shape the strategies.

Outcome

The strategic plan for the life sciences industry in Nova Scotia articulated four key elements required to change the trajectory of entrepreneurial activity in the industry, and the medical technology plan defined approaches to support commercialization and growth of this sector.

Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work

Situation

The primary purpose of this research study was to gather information from identified, targeted employers about their awareness of the disability agenda and their obligations under the governing Employment Equity Act and Human Rights Code as they relate to employing persons with disabilities.

A corollary purpose of the research was to assist the disability community (in general) with concrete measures/methods that employers require to increase their capacity for enabling Canadians with disabilities to participate fully in the workplace.

Approach

We defined 11 specific research objectives and a methodology that included: a review of studies, reports and other secondary research; a series of seven focus groups held across Canada with participants representing sixty-two (62) organizations; and, aweb-based on-line survey.

About 700 employers, most of which were private sector businesses, provided input into the study either by participating in one the focus groups held (78) or by responding to the on-line survey (616).

Outcome

Seven key findings emerged from the research: attitudes and cultural biases within organizations continue to be a barrier against the hiring of persons with disabilities;  awareness of statutory obligations with regard to recruiting, hiring and employing persons with disabilities remains quite low; accountability for achievement of EEA targets is generally poor; costs associated with the duty to accommodate can be and are used as rationales for not hiring job-seekers with disabilities; there is low awareness of and expectation that government or community groups can provide effective support to help organizations deal with sensitivity to issues related to working with persons with disabilities; an overwhelming number of respondents indicated a need for a centralized information source such as a single entry web-based portal; and, the requirements of the EEA to employ persons with disabilities and the prohibition in the Personal Information Protection Electronic Documents Act  (PIPEDA) against asking individuals about disability creates a conflict that is seen as a “major problem” by employers in all sectors.

We recommended three recommendations initiatives be undertaken to address the research findings:  1) Drafting a national employment delivery strategy specific to persons with disabilities to bring consistency to employment programs across the country, including the potential to create a national accommodation fund.  2) Development of practical templates for equity plans and their associated implementation plans support employers. 3)  Creation of a comprehensive “how to” guide on implementing effective survey programs to generate accurate and complete information about employment of persons with disabilities in organizations that are subject to the EEA.

Canadian Science Media Centre, Canada Foundation for Innovation

Situation

The concept of a Science Media Centre (SMC) ensures that when a major science story breaks, or a journalist is researching a feature story, the science angle is covered in a timely and accurate manner. Committed to demonstrating the importance, benefits, and relevance of research and to promoting a culture of science through a wide range of communications activities, the Canada Foundation for Innovation facilitated the feasibility for a made-in-Canada SMC to assist the community of interest in this initial stage of consideration.

Approach

Initially, Halifax Global carried out a feasibility study to determine whether the concept of a science media centre in Canada would garner sufficient interest among journalists and researchers, and be able to achieve financial sustainability.

With the determination that the concept was feasible, we were engaged to develop a five-year Business Plan that mapped out the operational, governance, financial and implementation details.

The Science Media Centre of Canada was successfully launched in 2010 with a series of launch events across the country. Halifax Global developed the program and organized the launch event in Atlantic Canada.

Outcome

Nearly 400 stakeholders were consulted using several research instruments including an online survey, one-on-one consultations and focus groups. Interviews were also carried with other science media centres in Australia, England and New Zealand. The findings demonstrated the feasibility for a SMC in Canada by identifying the level of support such a centre could hope to achieve.

The business plan laid out the purpose, goals and mandate of the proposed SMC; identified a strategic framework under which it would be developed; described three strategic priorities, a marketing and communications framework, and implementation plan; and provided a six-year financial sustainability plan and performance measures.

The launch event attracted approximately 350 participants who engaged in a dialogue with a panel of scientists and journalists moderated by Jay Ingram, the well-known Canadian science broadcaster, writer and former host of the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet science show.

Project Management

Pan-Atlantic Population and Immigration Association

Situation

In 2007 the four Atlantic Provinces entered into an agreement with the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency (ACOA) to undertake a series of international promotion and awareness projects and activities to increase international immigration to the Canada’s East Coast. The Council of Atlantic Premiers, as project proponent, engaged Halifax Global to provide Project Management support to this three year initiative.

Approach

The project management role was to oversee the day-to-day management and coordination of the project by developing and securing approval of work plans, annual budgets, reporting, communication, manage and process project accounts receivable/payable and funding requests, and project evaluation and wrap-up.

Project communications was achieved through coordination of 75 teleconference meetings and nine working sessions with Team Atlantic Immigration Promotion. These meetings were used to establish work-plans for the coming weeks and months, review deliverables from contractors on branding, materials development and reports, presentations from special guests, and build the team dynamics.
Reporting involved monthly status and budget reporting to the Project Management Committee and CAP Senior Management.

Additionally, semi-annual reports wereproduced for review with the Atlantic Population Table, and oversight Committee with representation from a variety of provincial and federal government departments and agencies, and as a contractual requirement for ACOA.

Outcome

The success of this project was measured through collection of data from shows and missions and from interviews with participating employers. The quantifiable measures included the number of contacts made at shows and missions, the number of follow-up requests, the number of participating employers, and the total number of venues and locations. Benchmark measures were established in the first year of the project, against which future years were compared. The project which, through agreed extensions, ran from October 2007 to February 2012, has been recognized as a best practice in inter-provincial cooperation on immigration and is considered a financial success, with less than 0.1% variance in budget to actual expenditure.

Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute

Situation

Approximately 50 cancer researchers came together to discuss the possibility of forming a virtual cancer research institute based in Halifax but with the capacity to reach out to investigators in Nova Scotia and ultimately Atlantic Canada.  Session participants decided to move forward with the support of a project manager.  Halifax Global was engaged to manage the efforts of a working group of volunteers to launch the new institute.

Approach

The Halifax Global team, in its capacity of project manager, supported the working group to finalize the terms of reference for the cancer research institute; create a website that supported the exchange and transfer of information and knowledge, and provided tools for collaboration; initiated a seminar series to stimulate co-operation and collaboration among cancer researchers and provide opportunities for learning and exchange of information and knowledge; and established an administrative team structure.

Outcome

The launch of the new Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute established a meeting place for researchers to share ideas and forge new collaborations, at Dalhousie University and across Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada and beyond.

Advisory Services

Nova Scotia Department of Economic & Rural Development and Tourism, Bowater Transition Team

Situation

In June 2012 the Government of Nova Scotia was advised that the newsprint mill in Liverpool, NS would be closed permanently. In addition to the obvious impacts of direct and indirect employment losses and related reductions in business activity within Lunenburg and Queen’s Counties, the mill closure represented a significant loss of market for wood chips produced by sawmills across Western Nova Scotia and for timber produced by locally owned woodlots. As well, a nearby biomass-fueled combined heat and power generating facility faced disruptions to feedstocks and to customer demand for process heat, resulting in loss of a significant source of renewable electricity for the Province-wide grid.

Through its Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism the Province engaged Halifax Global to provide support to a team of senior officials that had been given a mandate to evaluate impacts of the mill closure and to work with affected communities to develop and implement strategies for economic rejuvenation and renewal.

Approach

Working very closely with the team of senior officials, Halifax Global brought together a team drawn from its roster of senior associates, all of whom had worked together on previous forest sector and mill closure assignments. There were three major components to our role –

  • Initially, we conducted research and situational assessments to assist officials in defining and assessing the specific impacts of the newsprint mill shutdown, particularly with respect to its effects on other forest products producers;
  • Our team provided expert support in the investigation and evaluation ofproposals to establish at the facility ventures based on several biomass conversion and refining technologies;
  • We provided forest products sector and bioconversion / biorefining expertise to support the community-focused Transition Advisory Committee as it explored as it explored and evaluate options for economic renewal; and,
  • We developed a conceptual business model for a ‘Future Forest Sector Research, Development and Demonstration Centre of Excellence’ as a possible initiative to be established at the site, and initiated linkages with principal investigators in several relevant research networks and organisations.

Outcome

In December 2012 the Province of Nova Scotia announced its acquisition of the Liverpool mill and the related power generating plant. Subsequent transactions have resulted in the divestment of various component elements of the operation, as well as the establishment of a centre for cleaner energy, bioenergy, and forestry innovation.

Responsibility for planning, development and implementation for the new centre has been assigned to Innovacorp and Halifax Global has continued to provide support and expertise to that team.

Large Canadian manufacturer

Situation

A large Canadian manufacturer was under pressure to improve operational results over the short term. The GM of the operation was looking for someone to help them with setting their goals and getting senior team buy-in with a facilitated off-site session.

Approach

Our initial engagement was centered on the day and a half offsite planning session but we structured it in order to build momentum around the planning process. We interviewed all meeting attendees in advance, set the agenda together with the GM and facilitated the offsite where goals and a related action plan were developed. We also scheduled a follow up meeting a month later to review progress on achieving plan priorities.

We were then engaged to help manage the action plan activities. Subsequently, we were retained to provide business advisory services on a monthly basis.

Outcome

The action plan was successfully implemented and the overarching goal of reducing manufacturing costs by a set percentage was exceeded.

Provnicial Crown Corportaion

Situation

In mid – 2005 the CEO of this client resigned and the Vice-President Finance stepped into the role of Acting CEO.  Halifax Global was engaged to provide an Acting Vice-President Finance resource for a three-month period.

Approach

The primary duties included the oversight of day to day operations within the Finance Department as well as providing leadership for the development of the 2006 operating and capital budget processes. 

Newfoundland & Labrador Health Boards Association

Situation

This association was responsible for providing a variety for services to the four regional health boards in Newfoundland & abrador.  Over a period of years, the services the association provided had been reallocated elsewhere and the overall relevance of the organization had been eroded.  On departure of the long-time Executive Director, the Board hired a replacement with the mandate to revitalize the organization. Early in her tenure, the new Executive Director engaged Halifax Global to assist with charting a new path for the organization.

Approach

Halifax Global provided strategic counsel and advice over a period of nine months.  These services consisted primarily of one-on-one sessions with the Executive Director to assist her in moving her thinking and her organization forward.  Commencing with a general work plan, each session was structured to address specific issues that were subsequently documented and provided input to the future direction of the organization.

Outcome

These sessions culminated in a one-day staff retreat designed to be both an operational update and strategic discussion.  The resulting action plan was tactical and very specific to address a number of gaps and improvements, and identified the need for a more comprehensive operational plan.