By Gen Guanci MEd, RN-BC, CCRN-K
Depending upon when your fiscal year starts you may be in the midst of budget development or will be in the next few months. When it comes to the development of a “Magnet®” budget careful consideration should be given to the full spectrum of the journey and not just to the costs associated with application and site visit. In addition, costs should be included in the initial development of the annual budget, not just “added costs” incorporated into the already developed budget. The journey is a multi-year journey, so costs will be spread over several budget years. Also, many if not most, of the costs will remain after an organization reaches its excellence destination so that will also need strong advocacy and consideration. Organizations often underestimate the cost of their journey, so be sure to allow adequate time for brainstorming all the potential costs associated with your journey. Costs to consider include:
- Initial education costs: To make an informed decision to move forward, decision-makers must be knowledgeable about what it will take to reach your goal. The costs for participation in local, regional, and national award-specific education programs must be budgeted for (e.g., registration, travel, etc.). Additionally, site visits to award-winning organizations is a learning experience that should not be missed—and therefore should also be included in the budget.
- Cost of a readiness assessment: Organizations that have gone through the journey and used an external partner will confirm the added value of an external resource. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have the expertise, time, and assessment experience to complete the readiness assessment internally, or will it be more cost-effective in the long run, to employ the resources of an external consultant?
- Does your organization’s culture frown upon hearing less than perfect feedback from those who work there? If so, you will need honest feedback from an external individual.
- Do you see what needs to be done, but others do not agree with you? Or, do you work in an organization that places high value on what an external partner might say?
- ANCC costs: Included in this group are the fees associated with the initial application, off-site appraiser/reviewer fees, and appraiser/review team site visits. The ANCC fees depend on the size of your organization: the larger your organization, the higher the award fees.
- External consultant fees (if applicable): You can control how much or how little involvement the consultant has in your journey and the services the consultant offers can vary. Most will offer support in developing the structures and processes needed for successfully achieving the award or designation, the mentoring and coaching of key personnel in the interpretation and development of submission documentation, and site visit preparation.
- Human resources costs: These include a program manager, as well as administrative support and individuals needed to support the systems, processes, and structures implemented as part of your journey. Careful consideration should be given to have these be stand-alone roles as opposed to adding on to someone’s current position.
- Essential structures and processes implementation costs: These could include capital equipment, unit-specific resources, and information technology resources, as well as nonproductive time for staff to participate in the systems and processes. Don’t forget to budget for staff education to support your new systems, processes, and infrastructures.
- Document costs: Consideration must be given to the format of your submission (CD, flash drive, website, etc.) and if you will have an external expert complete document review and feedback.
- Marketing costs: Your marketing costs include the costs incurred before, during, and after the award journey. How will you market the process and outcome to your staff, stakeholders, patients, and community? Several grantors require public notices to be posted in more than one format prior to site visits. This format could include newspaper ads, social media, posters placed throughout your organization, and even radio and TV spots. Consideration should also be given to the costs associated with how you will let everyone know of your success.
- Celebration cost: Consideration should be given not only to the receipt of the designation celebration, but to additional celebrations along the journey in order to help maintain momentum. There are several milestones throughout an award journey that welcome a celebration: when you send in your documentation, when you complete your site visit, or even in the middle of a bleak winter when your staff is feeling stressed. Celebration costs could include amenities such as food, giveaways, decorations, photos, and the like.
- Award/designation sustainment costs: A good general rule to operate under is that all the previously budgeted costs will continue throughout the life of your Magnet® designation. When reapplying for redesignation, you will need to show verification that you have not only sustained your award status but have raised the bar—which often adds additional costs. Don’t forget to budget for the completion of a vulnerabilities assessment that will help identify risk areas that could be based upon changes in the award or designation program.
Just as when renovating a home, keep in mind that things often cost more and take longer to implement than originally thought, so plan accordingly. Using the home renovation suggestion of adding 15–20% to what you think you need, both in terms of time and dollars, is a good practice to adopt.
If you need help building and/or addressing the business case for your budget, contact Gen Guanci or Marky Medeiros. We can help!