by Guest Blogger – Scott Newman

In Part 1 of this blog, I shared some of the reasons WHY organisations should choose to do an Organisational Review.  This article poses some questions for you to consider in your business, regardless of industry sector. How are things really going?

First things first – your clients, without them there is no business.  Who are you targeting, what is your offering and how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?  When did you last measure your value proposition and feedback?  Where is your industry headed, and what is its maturity?  Is the sector tired, with old technologies, conventional thinking and a lack of innovation, perhaps an ageing workforce? These are all addressable issues.

First things second – your people! – without them there is no-one to serve your clients.  Your people are your most important asset and usually your most expensive cost line.  How effective are your people?  Are they busy or productive and what is the difference?  Are the right people in the right roles and are those roles clearly defined? Are you adequately managing performance?  These two factors are where the rubber hits the road.  Are you leveraging more junior staff and using outsourcing / offshoring when you should?
Most organisations here could do with a good lick and polish. How do you attract the right staff, how do you retain them, and how do you invest in their futures when your organisation keeps pressing ahead with cost reductions again?  You remember the axiom – look after your staff and they will look after your customers, right? How do you keep everybody focussed when the sky seems to be falling in?

Leadership effectiveness.  It all starts at the top.  How effective is your Board or leadership team?  Does your company have a vision, mission and clear measurable result areas with realistic targets? What gets measured, gets managed so they say.  Have you structured your operations around your company strategy?  Is your view of your opportunities tired or tainted and how do you know if you have reached your point of maximum effectiveness?  Are you possibly at the point where you have tunnel vision, when groupthink takes reign in your leadership team and you start to revisit the same old strategies?  Are your leaders efficient or effective? There is a difference.  People centric leadership is fundamental right now in challenging times.  Culture is king.

Developing business.  What’s your selling strategy?  What do you bid?  Everything?  Some companies do and with hits rates <10%, it’s no wonder staff are demoralised.  There is a better way, by adding clear thinking and pragmatic process.  Have you adequately resourced up in business development and are targets in place?  Is your CRM system supporting or hindering you?  Do you have a current sector and time based marketing plan?   Do you employ hunters, farmers or both?  Have you considered Agency agreements?  What role is social media now playing and how effective are you in using it? Many companies don’t do these well and a wealth of improvement is possible.

Cost savings / efficiency levers – where do you look? Typically this involves a review of your P&L or ledger by line, in the detail, month in, month out.  You must review all your outgoings, your property expenses, labour efficiency and utilisation.   Some other things to think about – what about resource sharing with partners/peers, is this possible and how can it improve your competitiveness?  Are Grants available to assist you and how do you just the expense and achieve management of R&D?  And of course, don’t forget, you must remain solvent – cash is king too!

Other underrated improvement areas include:

Process Improvement – employees in organisations can become frustrated and disengaged by constantly going over the same ground facing the same unresolved problems through lack of skill. Tools based on Lean and six sigma principles can help you.

ICT can become all-encompassing and before you know it, your business carries a high overhead cost because your staff become slaves to the very system that should be enabling them; the tail wags the dog!  The value of simplicity in the design of your business support systems cannot be under-estimated and there are solutions here.

And lastly, for business owners – begin with the end in mind. This is so important and there are so many SME’s that are just cruising along and will not realise their full potential because a success mindset is not in place.  Company valuation upon sale will be heavily discounted if your business is reliant on one or two individuals; support systems and methodologies are weak and clear differentiator’s non-existent.