Process vs Personnel - The True Source of Business RoadblocksJan 31, 2024
Listen to the podcast version here.
Do you feel like your team isn’t getting things done the way they used to?
Maybe project deliverables are taking longer.
Or customer complaints have increased lately.
Your natural assumption may be that you have an employee problem.
But before you head to HR to start the paperwork, take a look at your processes first.
I’ve seen it time and time again – whether it’s a single employee or an entire department – people tend to get blamed when bad things happen.
- Customer invoices are delayed? Nancy in receivables isn’t doing her job.
- Orders shipped late? Operations needs to get their act together.
In the fast-paced world we operate in, it’s easier to blame someone for a problem instead of taking the time to figure out why it’s happening in the first place and fix it.
Your “unproductive” team could be struggling with a process issue or a capacity issue, or both.
I worked for a company awhile back that was experiencing this issue.
They’d been on a fast growth trajectory, pedal to the floor almost from day 1.
The owners operated with a shoot from the hip, figure it out as we go along mentality.
They ran their teams lean and expected them to work long hours to get the job done. It’s not surprising that order delays and errors increased, department priorities weren’t in alignment, and lots of good people quit because they couldn’t handle it anymore.
In most instances, the process (or lack of one) was causing the issues, and not any one individual. But it took a long time for them to accept that they needed to pay more attention to the process.
And then, in classic fashion, they paid too much attention to the process.
I know this sounds weird, but it happens all the time.
Managers were given authority to change a process whenever they thought it could be improved. In theory, this sounds like a good idea. If the process isn’t working, change it, right?
But here’s what happened:
- A single process could change several times in one week.
- Changes were often verbal or via email, with little to no training.
- No current process document existed for them to refer back to.
- Managers didn’t let other departments know that changes had been made that could affect the process down the line.
- There was constant confusion between departments trying to figure out what was going on.
- Employees were exhausted trying to keep up with all the changes and lost the motivation to do their jobs right, because what that meant changed all the time.
There are a few lessons to learn from this:
- As the CEO, it’s your responsibility to see beyond the now and think longer term about how changes you are making today will impact the future.
- You need to be proactive, anticipate roadblocks, build your processes to minimize their impacts and empower your team to work together to find solutions when challenges arise.
- You need an operations system in place that supports your long-term vision and your team – you need both to succeed.
Everything in your business is connected.
If one of your goals in to increase revenue, then you need to understand everything that goes into supporting that goal.
It’s not just about increasing your sales team or developing a new program to make more money.
It’s about mapping out every step in the process to acquire the customer, process the order, collect payment, and ensure that the customer is happy with your performance and wants to continue doing business with you.
If any one of those things isn’t optimized and fully integrated with the steps that come before and after it, it can have a huge negative impact over time.
This is what I refer to as the Cohesive Cash Flow System – your operations are optimized to generate consistent cash flow, increase profits, and remove the kindling that’s causing all the fires you spend so much time putting out every day.
Clients are often surprised as they go through this process when we get to the root of a problem they are experiencing.
Remember Nancy in receivables? People assumed she just wasn’t getting the work done?
What we found out is that Nancy couldn’t issue the invoice because the sales rep wasn’t following their process for gathering customer information to perform a credit check and the sales manager wasn’t making it clear that this was important.
For Nancy, no credit check meant she couldn’t issue the invoice because no payment terms had been agreed upon. The sales rep just assumed the order would be Net 30 and moved on to the next sale. This misunderstanding led to longer times to invoice and decreased cash flow significantly.
We changed the process so that the sales rep would send contact info to Nancy, and she would reach out directly to handle the credit check. Nancy would keep the sales rep up to speed on the credit check process and let operations know when it was ok to ship the first order.
So, the sales rep didn’t have to do any extra work, operations didn’t ship orders without authorization, and Nancy could get her invoices out on time. It made a huge difference in cash flow and employee morale. They were working together to serve the customer instead of working against each other.
Remember the operations team that was shipping orders late?
When we dug into this issue, we discovered that the sales reps were making delivery promises without verifying the lead time for the products. This was causing delivery issues because products weren’t always in stock or current order volume was larger than normal leading to a longer lead time to get the order shipped.
We implemented some process changes so the sales reps had better access to inventory levels and lead times in the warehouse so they could manage expectations with the customer on the front end. This greatly reduced customer complaints about late deliveries and improved the relationship between the sales reps and operations staff.
In both instances, we put in measurements and a feedback system so we could gather information on how things were going from all parties, before making adjustments to the process, keeping everyone engaged and working together to increase efficiency over time.
Want to learn how you can leverage this in your business? I invite you to book your Cash Flow Optimization call with me today.
The Cohesive Cash Flow System is one pillar of my Cash Flow Ignition Methodology.
The other two pillars – the Decisive CEO Mindset and the Cultivated Success Blueprint - work together with the Cohesive Cash Flow System to create a business that can generate sustainable cash flow long term and change course as needed to achieve your goals.
With the Decisive CEO Mindset, you’re in control – you’re confidently calling the shots, making decisions that pave the way for growth and success.
Feeling isolated and overwhelmed?
A thing of the past.
You know exactly what you need to make critical decisions and have a support team in place to help you manage the stress of being a CEO and make taking care of yourself a priority.
Your Cultivated Success Blueprint is the roadmap to achieving your success.
You intentionally map out how you will achieve your goals and implement tools and measurements to support your growth and success.
No more wondering what the next steps are or finding out too late that you’ve veered off course.
It’s all laid out in your Cultivated Success Blueprint, so you know what to do and when to fast-track your success.
If you’re interested in learning how my Cash Flow Ignition Methodology can ignite your cash flow engine, I invite you to book your Cash Flow Optimization call with me today. On this call, we’ll tackle your immediate cash flow concerns and outline actionable steps for quick improvement. I'll walk you through the Cash Flow Ignition Methodology, explaining how it accelerates results. If it resonates with you, I’ll share some options post-call on how we can work together so you can achieve success faster.