As mentioned in our last blog, we are highly focused on business services, and as we grew, both organically and through acquisition, our administrative, billing, operational, human resource and accounting challenges developed exponentially.
As we said before, we are not facilities managers, and I will circle back to why we are focusing our efforts on facilities managers from an outsider’s perspective.
Let’s begin with how we started with an Executive team that recognised an exacerbating situation that had the potential to thwart growth, profit, and investment ambitions. We set up a small team and gave them time away from daily tasks to concentrate on how to improve life for the real stakeholders. The employees, at all levels, the customers, the suppliers, and the way we were perceived by the outside world. The clear instruction was delivered passionately by the Executive, that if we look after all these areas, the business will look after itself.
Blank canvass for the team, represented by the main areas of the business. The leader polled the members, and it was quickly agreed that they would look at exactly what they did now, identify the issues, and then work out how to improve them. It wasn’t quite the classic ‘As-Is – To-Be’ approach of the business transformation clan, it was a group of people giving the real-world picture of what was wrong, and if they could find and recommend a solution, they would, and if there were things they could not resolve, then they would simply highlight those challenges to the business.
Whilst most businesses are the same, not all have the time or inclination to step back and reflect. We learn most from our own mistakes, but it can be significantly less expensive to learn from other peoples’! So here goes.
The group discussions leaned more toward controlling costs and improving operations, rather than sales and marketing. In noting the concerns of the team, it was decided that it would be easier to promote the company and address these issues once the core was addressed.
After agreeing on what the company does, and why, we got down to the nitty-gritty, which really started to flag the issues. In no order of importance, here is what we identified.
Extending life of resources
Replacing servers, laptops, cars, and phones was very expensive, but was put into proportion when we looked at the cost of replacing people.
We resolved that a fully inclusive asset management and maintenance system, and a comprehensive Human Resources system would be the biggest help.
Do More with less
There was some downtime for the resources that we had, and everyone said they felt they spent too long on admin.
Better resource scheduling was needed. Project and resource planning improvements were called for, with better visibility of who was doing what and where, and who else could do it? More control of mobile assets was called for.
Keeping Accurate Records
With so many different people contributing to customer work, it was a job to collate all the relevant information that made up a job or a project.
A single place to store everything in a structured manner was the recommendation and put a stop to emails and individuals’ spreadsheets that were stored only on staff laptops.
Projects and Jobs
Each customer job can vary enormously – but standardise what we can. All jobs/projects involve time, people, the customers’ people and taking onboard the customers’ pain so they can get on with their core business. Some elements are standard service, and some are bespoke to customers. They all need support.
We needed a standard project template, and a help-desk system to standardise and manage our processes and procedures.
The training was sporadic – and repeats were expensive.
Addressing the pandemic gave us half the answer – in recording online meetings. The team decided the other half would be installing an internal e-learning solution that could also be used by customers and new starts.
Staying with the employees, most seemed to see timesheets as a necessary burden, that was done on paper or spreadsheet and collated for payroll, billing and project costing.
Automation would help here – especially if it could be done on the job and remotely.
The cost of getting things wrong in HR had become a significant concern from Finance – getting the right people, and keeping them. Interviews, assessments, reviews, developments, promotions, on-boarding, off-boarding, and getting honest feedback on what we can do better; were all flagged.
The team was unsure how to resolve this, but thought that a specialised HR system that everyone had permissions-based access to would be a considerable help.
There are too many systems to learn, and from an IT perspective, each with different terms & costs, interfaces, logins, passwords, capabilities and version control.
Reducing the number of systems would be a considerable cost saving.
The team was not best placed to address the finance issues, but noted:
Accurate billing – the cost of billing queries, though never truly calculated, was very high.
Accurate work in progress valuation, was impossible as accurate and timely information was not available on projects – too much reliance on Managers’ judgement.
Asset valuation – was a significant challenge.
Petty cash management across all the offices and teams was an irritation – why can’t people record what they are spending money on.
Expense management – needs to be addressed soon.
Too much was being done by individual salespeople over the phone, in emails. Answering customer queries. The current CRM system was not being used by everyone.
It was recommended to re-implement the CRM system; allow customers to order through the website, and have a secure customer area for order tracking and support
If you are interested in reading about Intalio’s Integrated Facilities Management Software powered by Odoo, then register for our next free online webinar that will be held on June 10th, 2021 and hosted by Andy Scott, Senior Business Development Manager at Intalio, along with Tony Farhat, Subject Matter Expert in Facilities Management Solutions at Ever Business Solutions.