GIS and local authorities (3) – The strategic aspects of the GIS project

Strategic aspects
of a GIS project

(Note: Even though the French version of this article dates back to 2012, most
of its content is, still, valid)

As
result of the previous article, we will discuss the GIS setting up strategy (usually
dual) in a territorial authority double orientation.

This strategic orientation is aimed at implementing management and decision support applications. This dual strategy is difficult to reconcile at teams level when it is necessary to streamline routine work within management applications, and at the same time try to anticipate new uses of information, uses that are not yet known.

In management applications, the goal is to improve the
individual effectiveness of agents in the management of spatial information.
Agents need to replace their tools and work methods with GIS
tools as well as the adequate approach for it. From
a human point of view,
we
are facing a break that we have to manage accordingly if we want to achieve the
GIS setting up objectives.
The
mere technical support, or even the training courses, is not enough, and, can,
even, be counterproductive if they wrongly paced.

It is at this stage that an assessment must be made to find
out what kind of support is needed. We
can distinguish two main types of interventions in GIS Coaching at team level.

GIS TEAM BUILDING

It
applies to teams that assimilate without major problems new technologies.
Apprenticeship
is not a problem, but existing skills are not used optimally.
The
goal of coaching is the development of the
team’s performance. In this case,
the coaching contract is the definition of the performance objectives, to
register and maintain over time.

The coach role is to stimulate, energize and
reframe by bringing along his experience and energy to allow the group anticipate
the future.

The coach is
placed in a “high position” in relation to the group.
He
plays the role of team leader   by bringing along his technical and methodological
contribution.
Through educational
activities helps the group find out its own dynamics. This method is framed in a
structured time and a short and defined duration, usually a few weeks, and
with sessions close in time.
The person in
charge of the group plays a leadership role
reinforced by the consultant. The leaders co-host and
co-prepare the intervention.

GIS TEAM COACHING

It applies to teams that cannot easily integrate the
new technology, and therefore, cannot set group goals. Each member assimilates the
GIS in his own way and perceives the objectives
differently from the other team members. This type of support is aimed
at developing the functioning of a team or a group of people, in the event
that the group’s strategic objectives are not clear and when certain
skills within the group are missing.
The coaching agreement
is to bring out the objectives of the group.

The role of the
coach is to bring out these
objectives in the medium and long term by the group itself, by questioning and
reformulating its proposals. It accompanies
the team’s seizing work and the daily integration of these objectives.
The coach paces himself in “low position”.
He is a
facilitator; a mediator with the subject of the group, by, essentially,
appealing to the listening …
This method has a
duration of several months, with personal or team work
between sessions, which are spaced over time. The person in charge of the
group is part of the group as an equal to the others. The consultant leads and
prepares the intervention.

Partnerships external to
the community

Partnership
is an important dimension of the project.
It
concerns the upstream phase of the project creation for data acquisition,
but also for the GIS operational phase. This involves managing the
legal aspects associated with use and copyrights of shared data.
It
is in the upstream phase that the roles of each partner are defined.
It
is therefore fundamental for the rest of the project to be able to count on
support that allows anticipation of the most frequent problems and focuses on
the commitments to be made or not. This is
especially true when external partners are not new to this type of
projects, and when the community lacks experience.

In
the next article we will begin to address the essential technical aspects
for the GIS  setting up methodology.

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