Tackling Lockdown

16 June 2020

< back to Knowledge Library

Lock-down arrives. The lights are turned off and we all head home.

We were fortunate – being paperless it was more a matter of upending the office to send everyone home. Out went computer screens, chairs, and plants. The previously full felt a little sad.

The upside

For us, our team is exceptional so they setup their home offices, put their heads down and got through the work. The work was constant, and challenging – helping businesses through very dark hours for many was draining.

Watching how our team came together and pushed through was amazing.

At the same time, we’ve always been very reliant on our internal processes and having all our systems “playing nicely”. This meant no interruption from the change in physical location. Everyone was just as productive as they were in the office. Phones rung, meetings went smoothly, the fitness board got updated and Friday night drinks still happened.

The downside

The hard part for us was getting work finished. With our customers (rightly) focusing on their own businesses, we struggled to get work out the door. Then, we’d pick up new work in place of the jobs we couldn’t finish.

This drops our productivity (jobs taking longer), increases turnaround times, and generally leaves us all feeling a little frustrated. We end up with too many jobs on the go, and have to-do lists growing exponentially.

It’ll also cause a cash-flow problem in a couple of months.

What we’re doing

For us, we’ve spent lock-down putting in a new workflow system (spending the time to work on our business at the same time as helping customers work on theirs). This fundamentally changes how we manage our back-office and internal to-do items.

It won’t change anything from the client-facing side, instead making us more efficient with how we manage our work and ultimately get things done quicker.

There’s no secret sauce in the software we’re using, or how we’re using it. The secret sauce lies in how our systems play with each other.

In the past, we’ve had systems sitting on their own. Invoices loaded in Xero wouldn’t fall into our process for chasing overdue debts. Sales leads would sit in our sales pipeline, but might miss customer newsletters. Jobs would sit on a list, but might not have time budgets assigned to them. KPIs might be captured, but manually from multiple places. This created a mishmash of systems with no clear path from one to the other.

The mishmash is now solved – we have a clear road-map showing how the systems play together. Staff know who does what, and which system does what. There’s clear responsibility, and a clear process.

This means we’re starting to fix the problem of jobs taking too long. We’re dropping the number of jobs we’re working on at any point. We’ve got clarity on what’s critical to move today. This in turn fixes the cash-flow problem we’ve got coming in a couple of months.

What you can do

You need a view of everything from sales, to operations and back office. It’s then spotting the gaps – areas where you’re double handling or where you have blind spots.  It’s getting sales calls made quicker, jobs finished sooner, and invoices out the door more promptly. 

Getting your systems and processes playing nicely is no small feat.

We won’t see Covid again (well….) but we will see another shock. The ability of any business to get through comes down to the resilience of it’s people and it’s systems.

This initial health check might see you needing new software or re-imagined processes. With proper setup and support to get the software or process ingrained in your business, you’ll see increased efficiency and profit margins.

The unfortunate truth

Covid hasn’t happened before, but other shocks have. Think GFC, Christchurch earthquake, Kaikōura earthquakes.

We won’t see Covid again (well….) but we will see another shock. The ability of any business to get through comes down to the resilience of it’s people and it’s systems.

For a bottom up look at how we manage please reach out to Hamish (hamish@convexaccounting.co.nz). We’re happy to step you through what we do and how we think about it. Otherwise, if you’d like access to our Health Check guide drop us an email.

HM v2

for more help feel free to reach out. Get in touch with Hamish Mexted