This summer marked the second anniversary of PCH Business Support and as every business is unique, so every client project has been different. It’s not always easy to explain the breadth of the services and support I can offer, yet the scenario below provides a little insight, as its one which has come up several times over the last 24 months.
In many technology start-ups there is an innovative product, process or system which initially sells well. New people are needed as the company grows rapidly and confidence grows. Then things start to slow down, the honeymoon period is over and the MD or directors can feel as if they are in danger of going backwards, overwhelmed with the workload.
In many cases they have had limited management, leadership or business training, it’s all been about the product but once the team gets to five to ten members of staff — managing those staff, the information and business processes, becomes the day job.
Business owners or directors may become stressed with all-consuming workloads, which potentially leads to poor decision making becomes routine. The focus can become exclusively operational. It’s all about ‘how can I get the product out of the door to meet customer demands?’ and not about ‘how can I plan for a sustainable future?’ Planning and strategic development doesn’t happen, overheads grow, and then profits begin to stagnate or fall.
Its typically at this point I get a call. A significant proportion of tech scale-ups collapse due to this failure to plan for sustainability and to remain strategic.
To help companies heading down this destructive route, it’s important to quickly understand the business and get involved in the team. This helps me understand how decisions are made, how internal systems function and clarify roles and responsibilities.
My starting point is to identify the objectives of the owner and then create a plan that moves them — over time — to a position where they no longer run the day to day activities. They need to spend their time on strategic direction, product development, markets, efficiencies and economic factors.
One MD wanted to ensure effective internal communication, stopping the entire team to update them after every customer conversation — up to 20 times a day — without really understanding the damage this was causing to productivity. Let alone frustration of their constant interruptions.
I helped the team to adopt a simple App based system allowing customer calls to be logged, evaluated, prioritised and outcomes tracked. These were shown on screen when a staff member was able to look, assess and respond accordingly.
The impact was instant, achieving better results and staff satisfaction from day one.
I worked with them to develop a management process, generate management information and KPIs, which then allowed the owner to manage without feeling completely overwhelmed.
My role is often like this — working directly with the decision maker as part of the team, for a short, flexible period, developing strategy, creating plans and managing tasks.
I bring an external perspective and the experience of working as a successful project manager, I can see where the bottle-necks are and prioritise where action can be taken quickly, gradually and then more long-term. I get involved and become a team resource for a short period, to help get the changes implemented and deliver results.