Archives > May 2015

5 Interesting People from the MISA Prairies Conference

Last week, Dave McGarva, Managing Principal of Management Consulting here at Tantus Solutions, co-presented The Art of Collaboration at the 2015 MISA Prairies Chapter Annual Conference. 

A year ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between MISA Prairies and miso soup, but that was before Tantus was fortunate enough to work with this group to explore opportunities for municipal technology collaboration. MISA is the Municipal Information Systems Association and Alberta is very well represented in the Prairies chapter. During this project, funded by the Government of Alberta under the Regional Collaboration Grant, I worked with 29 Alberta municipalities, asking their IT professionals to look at their applications from the perspective of their partner departments and assess them for opportunities to share with others or opportunities to piggy back on the efforts of others in the name of economies of scale and service improvement. In other words, could these municipalities collaborate with one another to share costs and improve their IT applications?

It was a fascinating project and the project manager, Sabina Visser of the City of Lethbridge, and I were asked to present the project at the MISA Prairies conference in Banff last week. (The slide deck is available on SlideShare, and in this post). Presenting was fun and the sessions were good, but what struck me most was the diversity and expertise of the conference attendees. Let me introduce you to some of these fascinating folks. The list could easily have been much longer, but time limits all things – maybe next year, Gordon, Corey, Marty and Natalia.

Mark Goddard, Director – Member Services Infrastructure (Info-Tech)

Mark knows his stuff and in his role representing a technology research company, makes a compelling case for using solid research in the initiation phase of all technology initiatives. What separated him from the crowd is his knowledge of beer! 726 different brands consumed as of last Thursday. All of this experience is documented and catalogued at Here is a guy who can clarify ABV and IBU and tell you which lager to pair with a steak salad. Now that is practical knowledge sharing!

Adam Sharmann, Manager – Information Services at Sturgeon County

Get two minor hockey dads going and it is hard to stop! Adam is overseeing the IT support for one of the fastest growing municipal organizations in Alberta. Moving from a mandate-focussed on roads and agricultural support to one that includes full-suite service delivery, economic development and residential expansion is no small task. It is fun to hear him talk about his workplace challenges as one would talk about their kid’s next tough hockey game – optimistic, excited and prepared.

Allan Wingenbach, Supervisor – Information Technology at Town of Canmore

It is hard to believe that there is a better combination of rocky mountain laid-back and ready-for-business IT professional. Allan calls home what many around the world consider a dream vacation destination, but he wants to talk scalability. Between summer season and ski season is a time when Canmore empties briefly before the downhill hordes return. Throw in one municipal building that appears to be in the universe’s black hole of broadband access. Want to take a guess what this does to need forecasting and fulfilling business support? Ask Allan and he will tell you, but in a way that makes you want to work with him to figure it out.

Sophie Mercer, Information Systems Coordinator at County of Grande Prairie

You know that person that takes on an incredibly complex task, makes it run like clockwork and never seems frazzled? Yeah, that’s Sophie. There she is supporting the organizing committee for a conference of 160 delegates, 59 individual presentations and events in 10 tracks, 41 speakers. No problem! And to top it all off, when the crowd won’t settle down for an announcement, does she scream or yell or clink a glass with a fork? Of course not, she belts out the ‘Star Search’ part of 1970s Joplin power ballad, “Piece of My Heart.” Reaction? Silence.

Geoff Hogan, IT Director at the County of Grey

You know those smug Ontario guys who come out west and act like they invented the Internet? That is certainly not Geoff, but he may actually be helping to reinvent it for southwest Ontario. Geoff has a lead role in a project called SWIFT (SouthWestern Integrated Fibre Technology). Their tag line is ‘Ultra-high speed broadband for everyone’ which hits home to those living on the prairies outside the high population density centres. SWIFT starts with the premise that there isn’t a business case for for-profit providers to run reasonably priced fibre connectivity to rural sites. They propose to use public money to change that business case to incent private industry to build this network while providing a royalty back to SWIFT to fund further development. Geoff is very passionate about the topic and is happy to chat with you about the current (and imminent) digital divide among large parts of Canada and wants to be part of the solution.


— Dave McGarva

This post was written by Dave. If you’d like to talk to him about why you’re not on his list this year, feel free to contact him.

Countdown to the Corrections Technology Association Conference

Daytona Beach Welcome Sign

Photo Credit: Dennis Pires via Flickr CC

For the past 15 years, the Corrections Technology Association (CTA) has held annual conferences that bring together a network of professionals in the corrections industry from both the public and private sector. In order to share our knowledge and accomplishments while learning from our peers, we’re excited to be presenting at the upcoming 2015 CTA Conference taking place in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Monday, June 1, 2015.

Aimed at taking the CTA and the corrections industry to new heights, this year’s conference theme is “All Systems Go,” with the main focus being new technology, innovation, and mobility. In line with the theme, our senior business consultant, Chris Young, will be co-presenting Alberta’s Corrections: Aligning Business with Technology with Lori Allen, Director of Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn how Alberta Corrections has been able to take full advantage of their new Offender Management System (OMS) that was fully implemented in 2013. The execution of this system was highlighted in our 2013 CTA presentation, titled Implementing a Province-wide Offender Management System. This year’s presentation will showcase the transformation and change management efforts made pre and post go-live of the system. Our presentation will focus on how business transformation, change management, and training should be approached by the business in order to position the organization for successful adoption and ongoing benefits realization. Furthermore, learned lessons will provide valuable insight into key transformational areas that correctional organizations need to consider when implementing new technologies.

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Chris Young, Senior Consultant

Chris Young, Senior Consultant at Tantus Solutions
Chris Young, Senior Consultant at Tantus Solutions Group Inc.

With over 8 years of experience working on complex enterprise-scale projects in the public sector, Mr. Young is experienced in research, analysis, application design and implementation support, requirements gathering, business transformation, and quality assurance. Recently, Mr. Young provided business analysis and project support to the Alberta OMS project – a five-year, enterprise application and transformation project. He was a lead analyst for the project and worked closely with team members, vendors and clients at both the operational and senior management level. Chris was also responsible for the Alberta Correctional Services Division Business Transformation Project, which optimized the business usage of the offender management system.

In addition to Mr. Young and Ms. Allen, Tantus representatives also present at the conference include senior consultant, Jamie Reynar and CEO, Glenn De Roy. They will be available to discuss our experience and accomplishments, in addition to other activities we are currently undertaking in the corrections field.

Learn more about our work on the Corrections System Renewal Initiative here. If you have any questions about this presentation or you’re interested in learning more about our correction practices, please contact Chris Young at

See you in Florida!

The Art of Collaboration

Did you miss our presentation on the regional collaboration initiative for shared technology service delivery at the 2015 MISA Prairies Chapter Conference yesterday? If so, don’t worry. We’ve brought it to you.

Is your municipality ready for a joint information technology project?

Dave McGarva, Managing Principal of Management Consulting at Tantus Solutions, co-presented The Art of Collaboration with Sabina Visser from the City of Lethbridge at the MISA Conference May 21, 2015 in Banff, AB.

The Art of Collaboration is a look at how Dave and Sabina worked together with the Prairies Chapter of MISA to help Alberta municipalities evaluate their readiness and potential for collaborating on joint information technology projects. Using the conference’s artistic theme, Dave and Sabina led the audience through their process of gathering data from the participating municipalities and building a relevant tool that would help these municipalities understand areas where they might be ready to undertake a collaborative project.


Want to learn more?

Do you have questions or would you like to learn more about our work with the Municipal Information Systems Association? Contact Dave at

Business Cases: 10 Steps to Maximize Investment Value (Steps 4 & 5)

This post is part of an ongoing series on the Tantus business case methodology, written by Dave McGarva. This is part 5 of 9. The next instalment will be posted in June 2015. 

Part 1 – Why do you need a business case?

Part 2 – The CLEAR Methodology

Part 3 – Business Cases: 10 Steps to Maximize Investment Value (Steps 1&2)

Part 4 – Business Cases: 10 Steps to Maximize Investment Value (Step 3)

In the last two months we have posted the first three steps of our business case methodology: define the problem (step 1), create a clear definition of the project (step 2) and test its alignment with your existing strategy (step 3). Below we will describe the next two steps of our methodology: analyze the environment (step 4) and develop alternatives (step 5).



Step 4: Analyze the Environment


Step 4 involves a comprehensive analysis of similar initiatives which have been conducted by comparable organizations. This may present other options based on similar projects which have been undertaken. A comprehensive environmental analysis includes what specific initiatives other organizations have implemented and their impacts. This section includes an identification of opportunities and threats based on the information gathered in the scan.


When conducting an environmental review of similar organizations, it is important to use the experience of others to set realistic expectations. The approach of others identifies possible solutions as well as setting expectations and outcomes.


Not completing an environmental scan can put the business case at risk. Without examining what similar organizations are doing, you may miss optimal solutions, strategic partnerships and potential risks and challenges.

Also, ignoring similar projects often leads to duplicate work.


Tantus consulted an engagement for a large provincial government department. The department was tasked with disposing of surplus assets and supplies. We were assigned to look at the department, and find cost savings.

Rather than theorize or present alternatives with no tangible examples, Tantus looks at similar groups – in this case, other provinces. By studying what other provinces have done, endured, or attempted, we were able to develop a clear picture of what our client was likely to face from these similar circumstances. It put theory into practice.

By studying similar organizations, it provided the client with an understanding of the pros and cons of each potential move, and helped structure a decision when picking an alternative.



Step 5: Develop Alternatives


This step involves the development of alternatives available to the client. The alternatives are supported by the information gathered in the previous steps, ensuring they meet the desired outcomes of the project. Status quo is always included as an alternative.

This step also includes scoring how well each alternative aligns with the project objectives outlined in Step 2.


It is important to develop alternatives that truly test the entire scope of approaches to the business problem defined in Step 1. The alternatives should include an analysis of the status quo, where no investment is made. The alternatives should also include an option that truly pushes the boundaries in terms of organizational comfort and capacity. It is important to show potential funders or supporters that all possible scenarios have been explored.


Failing to thoroughly explore all possible solutions puts funding and support in peril, not to mention the effectiveness of the business case. Funders may be hesitant to support the recommendations of a business case if they do not feel that all potential solutions were explored. An inadequate study could also potentially pass over an optimal solution.


A client in the non-profit sector required a business case to examine available options for an IT system which would improve information sharing and collaboration between a number of social agencies.

With a number of stakeholders and a large technological component, Tantus examined current industry trends. We presented alternatives on a scale – from the status quo, to a fully collaborative, one-window approach enabled by a technical system. With the information presented on a scale, the client could decide what level of system they needed to accomplish their goals for a reasonable price.

This approach allows for a more robust analysis of the available options. The ambitious alternative also provided a stretch goal for the industry to build towards.


Watch for our next instalment in June when we talk about the next steps for maximizing the value from your business cases.

See you at the MISA Conference

Dave McGarva

Dave McGarva

Collaboration is hard work. Making IT decisions is hard work. Now imagine trying to do both of those things as a member of a group of municipalities. Dave McGarva knows it’s challenging. As managing principal of management consulting here at Tantus, he drives collaboration every day. Lately, he’s been putting those skills to work with the Prairies Chapter of the Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) to help Alberta municipalities explore collaboration opportunities for IT services to save their citizens money and provide greater value.

Dave will be presenting the work that he’s done in partnership with the City of Lethbridge and MISA at the MISA Prairies Annual Conference in Banff, AB May 20-22nd. Dave and his co-presenter, Sabina Visser from the City of Lethbridge, will be sharing their knowledge and experience from their recent partnership to create tools for helping municipalities understand their priorities and readiness for pursuing collaborative IT projects. Dave and Sabina will be presenting The Art of Collaboration on May 21st. 


Will you be at the MISA Conference? Stop by our photobooth.