Organizational Excellence

Be an innovative, effective, engaged, and transparent organization focused on quality programs and services.

Why is Organizational Excellence a Strategic Plan Pillar?

The County of Sonoma, with its 27 departments and 4,000+ employees, provides hundreds of services to the community. These services protect, preserve, support, and enhance the well-being of Sonoma County, its residents, and visitors.

Examples range from supportive services to our most vulnerable residents, administering elections, providing the open space for recreation, preserving and improving our roadways, ensuring environmental protections and sound planning, protecting the safety of our residents, upholding justice, and responding and recovering in times of disaster and emergencies.

Why Focus on Organizational Excellence?

In order to serve Sonoma County residents and fulfill State and Federal mandates, the County organization must perform at its best. It must be efficient and effective, while being fiscally responsible and accountable. Fiscal operations must be sound and transparent. Technology and processes must maximize efficiencies and service delivery. 

Employees must be engaged and have job satisfaction so they are inspired to provide excellent service. The County’s workforce should reflect the County’s demographic makeup so we can best meet the needs of our diverse community. Revenues and funding streams should be leveraged as much as possible. Commu- nication and engagement with Sonoma County residents should result in services that meet the needs of our residents.

Organizational Excellence: Goal 1 

Strengthen operational effectiveness, fiscal reliability, and accountability.

Objective 1:

Align the Board of Supervisor’s strategic priorities, policy, and operational goals with funding and resources.

The County will incorporate strategic plan alignment into all funding decisions. Specific anticipated outcomes include: $5 million in Strategic Plan funds allocated during budget hearings; Strategic Plan Alignment incorporated into the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) departmental funding process; Future Program Change Requests and Add Backs will be explicitly evaluated based on alignment with the Strategic Plan; Departments will be encouraged to examine existing funding sources for opportunities to shift resources towards strategic priorities.

Objective 2:

Establish a master list of technology needs that support operational/service improvements by mid-2022, identify enterprise solutions, and develop fiscal strategies to fund and implement improvements.

Implementation leads will interview ISD management, engage with departments, perform a countywide review of technological needs, and work with departments to identify available funding sources for implementation of technology solutions. They will establish a periodic review process to ensure that the master list remains up to date based on changing priorities and needs.

Objective 3:

Establish expectations and performance measures for customer service for all County departments.

Staff will research customer service metrics in other jurisdictions and identify best practices. They will work with departments to understand customer interactions, existing data collection and metrics. A staff workgroup will discuss standards, data collection, metrics, etc. The County will collect data from the community through the community satisfaction survey (OE2.1). Project outcomes will include the development of customer service metrics, deployment of measurement tools, development of countywide specific standards, and development/enhancement of customer service training curriculum.

Objective 4:

Streamline routine administrative procedures and workflows and delegate more signature authority to department heads in order to re-direct work force resources to more strategic priorities.

The County will conduct an assessment of current administrative procedures. Staff will survey department/agency management to inventory processes and quantify annual resources invested. They will also identify resource intensive workflows. This work will result in the development of recommendations for streamlining and delegating signature measures, which will result in improved use of resources, as well as an augmented fiscal reliability and accountability (transparency).

Objective 5:

Align procurement and grant guidelines with strategic priorities and racial equity principles.

A consultant will conduct a comprehensive review of Sonoma County’s Procurement & Grant Award policies and procedures, which will include living wage compliance, selection criteria, collaboration with cities and other public and educational entities, and develop a local minority and women owned business program.

Objective 6:

Develop training and staffing structures that effectively support disaster services work and emergency operations, particularly for large-scale and ongoing events.

Complete the design of, and implement, the County’s new Emergency Staff Development Program. The comprehensive, targeted, effective, measurable, and sustainable program will prepare County employees and volunteers to serve in a broad range of disaster roles, through individual and collective training – both on-demand and in-person. The program will also integrate tabletop discussion and functional role-playing exercises to reinforce training and provide critical pre-disaster experience.

Organizational Excellence: Goal 2

Increase information sharing and transparency and improve County and community engagement.

Objective 1

Conduct a community satisfaction survey to identify baseline expectations. 

Staff will work with a vendor to develop a community survey tool and implementation plan to collect the data needed to inform the County’s community engagement work. Staff will implement a marketing plan, including working with community stakeholders, to promote and increase survey participation.

Objective 2

Using results from survey, develop and launch a community engagement and outreach strategy, establish a process for engagement and collaboration, and ensure the strategy is inclusive of all underserved populations by the end of 2022. 

The County will engage consultants as needed for project-specific community engagement activities, and fund related costs including stipends, translation, interpretation, facilitation, printing, etc. The County Administrator’s Office is working in Partnership with the Office of Equity to develop the countywide community engagement and outreach strategy.

Objective 3

Ensure County budget process and information are understandable, accessible, and in a format that enables the public to identify County investments and funding for major initiatives and services.

Staff are developing a Budget Improvement Road Map which will implement Service Area Budgeting, aligned performance metrics, and continuous process improvements.

Objective 4

Develop a new website that is more customer friendly, community focused, and supports County and community needs by 2022.

The County is developing a new county website that simplifies the process of sharing information via the web. Community members will see increased accessibility and improvements in the website’s user experience, finding what they need when they need it. Internal county users will find the system easier to navigate and more intuitive, allowing departments to more effectively share information with the public.

Objective 5

Develop strategies that improve information and knowledge sharing within and between County departments.

Staff will assess the current levels of internal information and knowledge sharing within and between County departments to determine where there are gaps in sharing and opportunities for improvement. Once this baseline is established, staff will conduct research on best practices and prepare recommendations for strategies to achieve this objective. This research will involve employee and stakeholder engagement, and seeking input on strategies and prioritization. Staff will then develop a project proposal and the accompanying funding plan necessary to implement new strategies.

Organizational Excellence: Goal 3

Become an employer of choice with a diverse workforce that reflects our community, and an employer with a positive work culture that results in engaged and developed employees.

Objective 1

Implement programs and identify opportunities to support employee work-life balance and a positive work environment, including a Telework Policy.

The County will complete the implementation of Countywide Telework Policy and evaluate its effectiveness one year from implementation. The Employee Engagement Survey (OE-3-2) will include questions about work-life balance and work environment, and it will solicit employee suggestions for programs/opportunities. A working group will be established to evaluate, recommend, and develop options for consideration and implementation. Outreach to outside agencies and companies will help identify program gaps and possible programs to evaluate/consider.

Objective 2

Conduct an employee engagement survey by mid-2022, and based on survey data, develop and implement strategies to incorporate survey outcomes into future operational planning.

The County will work with a vendor to conduct an employee engagement survey. This survey will provide the baseline data needed to assess the current work culture and to identify opportunities for improvement. A cross-county working group will be established to review survey results and develop strategies to address outcomes.

Objective 3

Support employee professional growth and retention by investing in high quality training, development, and leadership programs.

The County will invest in training and development programs that engage employees at all levels of the organization. Staff will update core performance competencies for each major level of employment (foundational, supervisory, managerial, executive). Staff will also identify and develop additional courses as needed for each County employment level that includes a mix of in-person Instructor Led Training (ILTs), Virtual Class Training (VCTs), and online courses. They will develop an entry/middle management employee development “academy” and continue the executive leadership program (SoCoHIGHER).

Organizational Excellence: Goal 4

Seek out grant funding to enhance programs and improve infrastructure.

Objective 1:

Secure a total of $60 million in grant funding by 2026 for strategic priorities, including technology tools, climate resiliency, and other capital projects. 

Staff will determine the funding needs associated with strategic plan objectives and develop a timeline and funding plan to fill these gaps and secure $60 million in grant funding. The County Administrator’s Office (CAO) will support departments/agencies in developing and updating lists of shovel ready projects to take full advantage of funding opportunities that often have quick turnaround. The CAO team will determine alignment between Strategic Plan efforts and the County’s Legislative Platform, and they will elevate specific legislative issues/asks that need advocacy. The County will continue developing partnerships for regional funding collaborations.