courthouse-clocktowerHere in New Hanover County, the community, elected officials and county staff cooperate to balance a high quality of life with a progressive business and economic climate.

At less than 200 square miles, New Hanover County is the second smallest – geographically – of the 100 North Carolina counties; however, it is home to more than 220,000 people.

New Hanover County is not just a great place in which to live or visit. New Hanover County is also a great place to do business. Tourism, film production, the service and retail sectors are the engines that power our economy.

Our Mission: New Hanover County is committed to progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow.

The government of New Hanover County is committed to ensuring that you are safe, healthy and secure; that is our promise to you.

County ManagerNew Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet serves as Chief Administrator of county government and maintains responsibility for administering all departments under the general control of the five-member Board of Commissioners.

The county manager’s work includes the development of the county’s annual budget. The budget is the policy document, financial plan, and operations guide and communications device of county government. It reflects the county’s response to the needs of the community and residents’ requests for services. New Hanover County’s government operates on a $352.1 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2016 and ends June 30, 2017, serving more than 220,000 residents.

In addition, the manager and his executive leadership team are responsible for aligning the operations of the County to the adopted strategic plan and advancing the County’s mission and vision through five key focus areas: superior public health, safety and education, intelligent growth and economic development, productive strategic partnerships, strong financial performance, and effective county management.

Mr. Coudriet has served as the County Manager since July 2012. Prior to his appointment, he served as Assistant County Manager for New Hanover County for four years and as county manager in Franklin and Washington counties, N.C.

Coudriet has twenty years of public administration experience, with more than a decade as a county manager in North Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from East Carolina University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

He is a native of eastern North Carolina. Chris and along with his wife, Leigh, and two children Montgomery, and Silas, reside in Wilmington.

New Hanover County has received the final economic development target analysis report from Jay Garner titled Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment and it’s critical companion piece, the Competitive Realties Report.

Manager's Message

New Hanover County Best Practices

Posted August 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I thought you might enjoy reading my most recent Greater Wilmington Business Journal Insight article, which highlights some of the ways that New Hanover County is being innovative, developing best practices, and delivering value for our citizens…

I often say New Hanover County employs the best and brightest, and I truly believe that. We have a workforce committed to public service, with a focus on developing innovative programs to be good stewards and successfully serve our community.

In July, 10 New Hanover County initiatives were awarded Achievement Awards by the National Association of Counties (NACo). These programs were chosen because they are collaborative, successful and sustainable. They are the best of the best. In fact, New Hanover County received the highest number of Achievement Awards in North Carolina. We are seen as a leader in both the state and nation, and that is a great honor.

The internal business process of New Hanover County always seeks to develop fiscally sound programs that improve operational effectiveness. The county’s Information Technology (IT) Department is a prime example of this.

As a centralized department, our IT staff services all county agencies – from our libraries to the sheriff’s office, and everywhere in between. Over the years, county departments have increased their reliance on IT to implement technology solutions for greater efficiency and more streamlined processes.

Faced with fewer staff and greater demands for service, IT needed a way to ensure that resources were focused on the county’s highest priorities and that it was able to deliver on its commitments in a consistent way. So, IT instituted the Scrum method, which is a subset of processes for agile project management.

By implementing this new management method, our IT Department has gone from a 50 percent project completion rate to a 90 percent completion rate without hiring any new staff. It came at no cost to the county but has dramatically benefited the operations of IT and the county as a whole. This success not only earned the department a NACo Achievement Award, but also won first place in the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) 2016 Excellence in Innovation Awards in August.

Here’s a quick look into this best practice, something from which your own organization or business could benefit.

The county’s IT department used the Scrum method to break projects down into small pieces called sprints.  IT determined its sprint length to be one month, so each project manager breaks projects down into tasks a month at a time.

By focusing on smaller, more iterative deliverables, IT is able to focus on activities that will ultimately move a project to completion in a timely manner. Maintaining an active backlog of work and only “sprinting” work approved by the management team also ensures the entire department is working on the projects that will bring the highest return to the county.

The sprint period includes weekly “stand-up” meetings in the IT Department. All of the staff participate – literally standing up for the meeting – and answer three questions: “What task did you complete last week?”; “What tasks are you planning to complete this week?”; and “What impediments do you face in completing your tasks?”

By focusing on just these three questions, the meetings are quick – usually lasting about 30 minutes – and all team members are provided with a snapshot of every project’s status in the department. Managers then focus on removing any impediments for the teams so they, in turn, can focus on completing tasks.

For a visual of the department’s progress, boards can be seen in the back of the office with colorful Post-it® Notes. These notes list individual tasks for projects and they are moved among the To Do, Doing and Done columns. It’s a simple way of tracking each task and at the end of the month, most of the sticky notes are in the Done category. Impediments are also prominently displayed until a manager removes them for the team.

One other key component of Scrum is a meeting called the retrospective. At the end of a sprint, the entire IT Department comes together to discuss how the process went. Staff discusses what kept the department from meeting its promises and how to remove barriers more efficiently so work can progress in a predictable way. Through these retrospectives, IT team members learn to work together to solve problems.

Scrum process manuals abound on the internet and in bookstores. Originally used in the software development industry, the concept has found its way into project management and has blended in with traditional methods for keeping projects on track and teams focused.

New Hanover County IT did not invent Scrum but the department did study the methods and selectively applied the approaches that best fit the culture of the department and the county. The systems were chosen to provide more predictability and control of the work going on in the department, as well as enhance communication across the department about current projects and their priorities.

Sometimes the most efficient programs are the simplest to implement and maintain. Any business can take the concepts of Scrum and apply them to a department that has project-based work. The results speak for themselves: an increase of 40 percent in priority projects completed on time, a better focus on the projects that have the greatest impact on the services that are delivered and an informed and engaged workforce.

This is among one of the best practices New Hanover County implements to ensure operational effectiveness and build a culture of innovation and collaboration. These recent national and state awards further highlight our commitment to being the model of good governance and keeping our community safe, healthy and secure.

Click here to view a NHCTV video about our IT department’s award-winning project management initiative.

New Hanover County’s First Comprehensive Plan

Posted July 19, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I am pleased to tell you that the very first Comprehensive Plan – “Plan NHC” – has been adopted in New Hanover County. This is a historic achievement, and it … Read More »

Proposal Would Bring Water & Sewer Service To U.S. 421 Industrial Corridor

Posted June 15, 2016 at 9:59 am

In May, I wrote an Insight column for The Greater Wilmington Business Journal about the proposed $16.7 million project to extend water and sewer service to the U.S. 421 corridor in … Read More »

New Hanover County Receives Historic Wilmington Foundation Awards

Posted May 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Last week, New Hanover County and the Board of Commissioners received two awards for the county’s contributions to making downtown better. The awards went to our 320 Chestnut building renovation and the new CFCC Humanities … Read More »

New Hanover County Receives Triple-A Bond Rating

Posted April 21, 2016 at 3:56 pm

I have great news to share!  New Hanover County has again received a Triple-A bond rating, the highest rating a county can achieve, from both Moody’s Investor Services (Moody’s) and … Read More »

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