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Managing Projects and Engaging Stakeholders

Rhode Island Town Unveils New Innovative Program to Manage Projects and Engage Stakeholders More Effectively
‘Bristol Approach to Excellence’ To Keep Citizens and Town Leaders More Informed About Projects in Real-Time

Bristol, Rhode Island town officials today revealed the secret to their successful communication program that has ‘re-energized’ town departments and improved how things are getting done. ‘The Bristol Approach to Excellence,’ is the new program devised to keep department heads and citizens more updated on the progress of current town projects.

Through the use of different tracking and project communication formats the Department Heads and Citizens get updated with real-time information on the progress of projects in Bristol.  The first format groups ‘like’ projects together, so that all stakeholders will be able to view current projects on the town’s website in an easy to read fashion and view status updates in real-time ultimately providing more responsive and transparent service to all.

An energy savings project is just one example of ‘like’ projects currently being tracked in Bristol. Town officials have issued RFP’s for vendors and recently completed an energy audit to convert town buildings along with town streetlights to more energy efficient heating and lighting which will ultimately generate savings.

“Prior to the start of the program, we were very frustrated about how things were getting done,” said Bristol Town Administrator Tony Teixeira.  “There was a lack of structure and no developed system for tracking projects and keeping everyone informed.  Now with the ‘USA Today’ version, developed through the ‘Leadership Matters RI’ innovations project, we group ‘like’ projects together and report our project updates and accomplishments in a user-friendly way for different audiences. Our citizens can see the progress being made and we are proactive and responsive to information before they even ask for it.”  The second and more traditional project management format helps to keep city department heads up to date on city projects at a different level of detail.

The development of the new tracking and communication tools came about after Bristol town leaders took part in the innovative new leadership program, ‘Leadership Matters RI’ a joint initiative between the Pell Center at Salve Regina University, Newport and the Public Sector Consortium, a national nonprofit dedicated to reinventing the practice of public leadership through learning and practice.

Leadership Matters RI’ is delivered at the Pell Center on the Salve Regina campus in Newport, RI each fall. The program begins with skills training (facilitative leadership practices, systems thinking, negotiations and systems alignment for high performance with teams from RI cities and towns, state leaders, nonprofit leaders and education leaders. In the second phase, leaders return to their workplaces where they receive coaching and expanded training, which supports the transference of the skills they learned in the classroom to projects which improve public services.   A final best practices sharing session takes place for leaders throughout the state almost a year later at the Pell Center.  “We are seeing that the savings and improvements that result from this program pay for the investment of having leaders participate within the first year” says Town Administrator Tony Teixeira.

“Enhanced communication with all stakeholders allows for better understanding of multiple needs and perspectives,” ’said Georgie Bishop, President of the Public Sector Consortium. “Effectively engaging citizens in the projects allows for a diversity of opinions and better outcomes.”

“When the program started, I felt several emotions – from feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, to feeling satisfaction and then finally a great sense of accomplishment,” continued Teixeira.  “It’s totally reenergized us all and it’s made a world of difference.”

To further keep Bristol citizens involved and informed, a Community survey is being developed that will be distributed through the town’s website.

“We’re very pleased that the Pell Center can be the fulcrum for this great program in public leadership,” said James Ludes, Director of the Pell Center.  “The program has been a huge success on so many levels and with so many towns in this area. Its truly exciting to see these great results.”

The East Bay Community Action Program has just awarded the 2016 Public Service award to the Town Administrator, Tony Teixeira for his life-long commitment of service to the youth and families of Bristol.